The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion It’s time to start thinking about President Pence

(Tom Toles)

This has been the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week for President Don’t-tell Truth. It has been bad enough that it might be time to pause and shudder at the thought of Michael R. Pence becoming the 46th president of the United States. But more on that in a minute.

The predicament that the current president finds himself in is hardly surprising. A man like him weaves a web of falsity and dirty dealing by his very nature, and eventually this pattern becomes not only apparent to everybody, but also intolerable. The important question is how soon it gets revealed and how many people become collateral damage along the way. It is beginning to look as though special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has assembled the detritus of low roads that President Trump has traveled into a picture that is either legally damning or at least politically terminal. Which brings us to Pence.

What to think about a President Pence? Actually not that much. The conventional thing to say about a Pence presidency is that he might be even worse than Trump. That would require a prodigious talent. Pence might embody a lot of undesirable opinions and traits, but one thing he isn’t is worse than Trump. Trump is quite correct when he boasts that nobody is as skilled as he is, at least in the planetary-size charlatan category. Trump, like all truly great grifters, is amply endowed with a con artist’s charisma. It takes a special, ineffable talent to lie with a tone of sincerity beguiling enough to sweep (almost) half the crowd into your tent, make them chant for you AND buy your seriously defective and dangerous product at a preposterously inflated price.

Pence does not have that gift. He has all the charisma of an undertaker, as he stands somberly to one side in case the Trump presidency should suffer a premature misfortune. And Trump won’t go quietly, if he goes at all. The amount of wreckage that he would or will leave in his wake is not a presidency that anyone should wish to inherit. See Gerald Ford, only times 100.

So, yeah, think about President Pence, for about 30 seconds, and then start thinking past this dismal chapter of American history. Democrats need to be thinking about 2020 and laying a broad, solid foundation over the next two years for the kind of country Americans actually want. Please don’t waste time on some miserable compromise infrastructure bill to demonstrate how serious you can be about small beer. Chart a vision and a compelling agenda. Affordable health care, economic fairness and yes, above all, an urgent rescue of an environment that is unraveling even faster than Trump’s vast web of deception.

There is massive work to be done, and we had better act like we mean to do it.

(Note: I have a bit of travel coming up, so I might miss a day or two of blogging.)

More cartoons and blog posts by Tom Toles:

The good news is we are only burning up a little bit of our planet at a time

‘How can one possibly respond to this?’ By stopping Trump and his insane climate policy.

On climate, Trump has learned a new way to learn nothing

Let’s pave Paradise and put up some poppycock