Vice President Pence speaks in Charlotte on April 20. (Chuck Burton/AP)

In 2008, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had his head handed to him for seeking to explain a pervasive anger in parts of the American populace by saying that “they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” 

In 2016, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was lambasted for calling those self-same people a “basket of deplorables.”

But I expect that no one will object, nor even notice, that George F. Will, a conservative icon, referred to those same people as “the vicious portion of [the] population” who represent a “mobocratic spirit” [“The fine art of governing by groveling,” op-ed, May 10]. 

Oh, and these were not his own words. They were the words of Abraham Lincoln in 1838, in response to the lynching of an abolitionist newspaperman. Hmm . . .

Is that a depressing sign of our failure to elevate the “vicious portion of [the] population,” or perhaps is it somewhat reassuring in that as we have overcome this in the past, we will likely overcome it again today?

Thanks to George F. Will for condemning the over-the-top obsequious adulation of Vice President Pence toward the president and Mr. Pence’s public praise of former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt. All that is indeed horrifying. But it goes beyond that: Where is the outrage, especially among the evangelical Christians close to the vice president, about our president’s lapses in truth, morality and civility, and his disrespect of the norms of social discourse? Unfortunately, Mr. Pence’s silence on these matters indicates a lack of moral leadership at a time when we need it the most. That failure may be the most horrifying of all horrors regarding our vice president, perhaps more than all that fawning.