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The Right Resistance: The ignited and smoldering Trump/Pence dispute was destined to erupt

“We were right! There is something to the rumors of Donald Trump and Mike Pence not speaking and not liking each other! Let’s call (gameshow host) Steve Harvey, what we’ve got is a genuine Republican family feud breaking out all over the place!”

Such was likely the rallying cry in many an establishment media newsroom this past week when word rolled in that, in a speech, former Trump veep Mike Pence had apparently thrown caution to the wind and openly criticized his boss over the former president’s persistent and personal jabs regarding the latter’s role in certifying the individual states’ electoral votes after the 2020 election. The two men didn’t see eye-to-eye on the matter (Pence had previously admitted so), and then the January 6th riot happened and the quarrel was moved to the background for a while. Now that senile president Joe Biden’s been in office for over a year and people are continuing to talk about 2024, the skeletons are rattling in the closet and folks are airing their dirty laundry. The liberal media talkers must love every minute of it. Another day in the American political soap opera. Or was it? Brie Stimson reported at Fox News:

“Former President Trump responded … hours after former Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech that he rejected the idea that he could have used his power on Jan. 6, 2021, to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

“’Just saw Mike Pence’s statement on the fact that he had no right to do anything with respect to the Electoral Vote Count, other than being an automatic conveyor belt for the Old Crow Mitch McConnell to get Biden elected President as quickly as possible,’ Trump wrote in an official statement. Trump argued that if ‘obvious signs of voter fraud or irregularities exist’ Pence could have done something about it. “In a speech in Florida earlier in the day, Pence said Trump was ‘wrong’ when the former president claimed recently that Pence could have ‘unilaterally’ changed the results... ‘I had no right to overturn the election,’ Pence continued. ‘Frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.’”

Wow. Talk about igniting a powder keg. Pence’s speech was most assuredly intended to draw some sort of response… from someone. You don’t insinuate that Donald Trump was acting “un-American” and expect to let dead dogs lie. So be it, I guess. It’s hard to tell exactly what Pence’s motivations were for doing this. Why now? Why this way (naming names and opening wounds)? What is there to gain by calling Trump “wrong”? History will judge, one way or the other. Initiating a public pissing match with someone like Trump is a lose-lose situation, especially for someone in Pence’s precarious historical position.

The most obvious explanation is probably the real one. Pence is sick of Trump impugning his actions and his good name to carry the 2020 grudge forward and score political points. To this point, Pence wasn’t regarded as a particularly aggressive or vindictive politician, but he’s also never been thought to sit idle while the disloyal opposition, a.k.a. Democrats, ripped a pound of flesh for no good reason.

I wasn’t privy to the internal dealings of the Trump White House, but by all appearances, Pence was closely involved with all major policy debates and deliberations. Everyone knows Trump keeps a counsel of one on final decision-making -- himself -- but he also is regarded as a man who consults with a close circle of trusted advisors to hear opinions and present arguments before selecting between them.

I envision Pence was a voice for political conservatives, and a darn good one. Trump handled the ebb and flow of politics, but it was men like Pence who supplied the details. My opinion.

Presumably Pence was right there in Trump’s orbit during the four turbulent years of the Trump administration. He was close by while the media and soulless enemies like Nancy Pelosi, Chucky Schumer and the DNC relentlessly pecked at his boss. Trump’s enormous presence attracted and shielded his vice president from much of the worst flak. The Indianan wasn’t seen as popular, but he was able to stay in the shadows for almost his entire time in office. Lest we forget, Trump originally tasked Pence with handling the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, or Wuhan, if you prefer) coronavirus issue. Then, when the matter exploded beyond all contemplation about two years ago, Trump went front and center, accepting the consequences to his administration. This was no small action. The president could’ve deflected all of the responsibility to Pence -- and then ditched him when the temperature got too hot. But he didn’t.

Again, by appearances, Pence was a most loyal lieutenant. How many occasions were there where he could’ve jumped out from behind the Trump cover and lit into his boss? If he were a purely political opportunist -- like some are now accusing him of being -- it would’ve been easy to “distance” himself from Trump and develop a reputation for “impartiality” and “bipartisan” censure of the president. The media would’ve treated the turncoat like a conquering hero. All the adoration they’re currently heaping on Liz Cheney would’ve been Mike’s for the asking. Pence never did it. He stayed true to the course. He left the spotlight to Trump alone. Trump took the credit for his administration’s successes, which the president was entitled to do. But there never was any indication that Pence was disruptive in any way. So, perhaps it’s understandable that Mike may have reached his tolerance level for criticism he believes is unfair and unfounded.

I’m not here to litigate the dispute between Trump and Pence. Heck, I’m not even here to moderate it. And I’m not about to play the role of arbitrator, even though I received a certificate for dispute resolution in law school (cough, cough)! I’m merely pointing out that there are two sides to every story and it’s premature to take either man’s point of view in this instance.

Trump’s motives for tearing into Pence are less difficult to decipher. One, he’s genuinely angry that his vice president didn’t do what he asked him to do in a time of need. Who wouldn’t carry a grudge if the one person who’s closest to the situation and technically has the power to do something about it and refuses to act? Trump is the one who was elected president; Pence was on the same ballot, but be honest… who ever casts a vote for the top of the ticket because of the veep? Did anyone purposely opt for senile Joe because cackling Kamala was there with him? I think not. Maybe some identity politics driven Democrat honk took affirmative action into consideration, but they would’ve chosen Biden anyway.

At any rate, Trump carries grudges and here, he thinks he has a genuine axe to grind. He won’t come right out and say it, but Trump must see this feud with Pence as politically advantageous for 2024 as well. By calling out Pence, Trump leaves no doubt (not that there was much to begin with) that he’ll be seeking a different running mate in the next couple years. It serves as a heads-up not only to Pence, but the potential short list of would-be Trump ticket sharers.

Not so subtle message: I’m looking for someone who will be like Mike Pence as vice president but take direction when I say the matter is really important.

Finally, Trump is clearing the field of fire for 2024. It’s no secret that the 2016 and 2020 GOP nominee is almost certain to run again, and why not eliminate a potential challenger before the race even gets started? As it is, Pence’s only chance to possibly succeed would be to receive Trump’s blessing. It’s Trump’s movement, not Pence’s.

Whatever the motivations on either side, the cat’s out of the proverbial bag. Or the genie’s out of the bottle. The bell’s been rung. The ink is dry on the page. What’s done is done. Someday, years from now, Trump and Pence could let bygones be bygones and reconcile. At Trump’s age, it’s not likely to happen.

Because of Trump’s persona, penchant for the spotlight and the ruminations of history, Mike Pence will never be president. It’s foolish for the media to keep open the possibility of a 2024 run, because even if Trump opts out of the field, there’s little chance Pence would catch fire with the grassroots. There are simply too many good conservative alternatives ahead of the former vice president. This is no small consideration.

Making a big deal of the Trump/Pence dispute is something the media excels at, finding controversy and antagonism to create divisions and anger where there otherwise wouldn’t be any. Trump could benefit from the attention. Pence won’t. Either way, the 2024 GOP presidential race is for Trump to decide. Stay tuned.

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