(Jan. 14) Vice President Mike Pence is the unsung hero of the past four years.

The courage and competence of Pence before and during the assault on the U.S. Capitol last week finally showed the world what has been occurring behind the scenes for the entire Trump presidency. As President Trump blundered from one needless controversy to another, it was Pence who kept the executive branch as a whole from careening entirely out of control.

In some respects, Pence did for four years what former White House chief of staff Al Haig did for the final four months of Richard Nixon’s presidency. As Secretary of State Henry Kissinger put it, “by sheer willpower, dedication and self-discipline,” Haig “held the government together” as the Watergate-plagued Nixon grew frighteningly unstable.

This assessment is based on a mosaic of information gleaned from several sources for the past four years, combined with some admittedly significant reading between the lines. Don’t be surprised, though, to hear this assessment borne out in the coming years as sober insider retrospectives begin emerging.

This goes against the oft-vitriolic criticism of Pence, especially from some angry Never-Trump conservatives who blame him for “enabling” the president’s abuses. However, the critics ignore the very nature of the office of vice president, which often has a publicly emasculating effect no matter how dutifully the vice president serves the country. John Adams called it “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.” John Nance Garner said the office “isn’t worth a pitcher of warm (spit).” George H.W. Bush was particularly beleaguered, with the Doonesbury comic strip saying he had put his “manhood in a blind trust,” Newsweek asserting on its cover that he had to fight a “wimp factor,” and columnist George Will writing that Bush was “emitting … a thin, tinny ‘arf’ — the sound of a lapdog.”

The vice presidency was not created to serve as a public counterweight to the president.

Nonetheless, Pence has done his duty well….


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