(Oct. 30)  Former Vice President Mike Pence, who announced on Oct. 28 that he is suspending his presidential campaign, may never get the credit he deserves for singular service to our nation. We all should hope his public service, in some significant capacity, is not at an end.

Even before election to Congress in 2000, Pence was a great proselytizer of conservative philosophy through presidency of a state think tank and through a statewide Indiana radio show. In Congress, he immediately became a fierce but always civil leader of fiscal conservatives, bravely but respectfully standing up to a president of his own party (George W. Bush) when Pence thought Bush was spending too much.

On all three legs of the traditional conservative stool — economic, defense, and social — Pence showed one could be a legislative stalwart without being radical or nihilistic.

Numerous conservative leaders tried to talk Pence into running for president in 2012, but instead he ran for and won Indiana’s governorship. There, he was an effective tax-cutting, education-reforming chief executive who expanded early childhood offerings and road building without busting the state budget or bond rating.

Pence’s greatest service, though, came as vice president. Critics of former President Donald Trump blame Pence for excusing and “enabling” Trump’s misbehaviors, abuses, and failures, but they miss three key considerations. First, the very nature of the vice presidency is such that even strong men appear obsequious. (Consider columnist George Will writing that then-veep George H.W. Bush emitted the “thin, tinny ‘arf’… of a lap dog.”) Second, Pence carefully parsed words so that he praised or defended only the specifics of Trump’s behaviors that he could honestly defend.

Third and by far most importantly, Pence more than Trump was largely responsible for the parts of Trump’s record that conservatives celebrate as achievements, while Pence kept the administration and the nation’s interests from going off the rails as the mercurial orange billionaire bounced from one dangerous impulse to the next…. [The full column is at this link.]


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