A leftover from last night in which the former vice president continues to chase his dream of one day leading the “hang Mike Pence” party.
Apparently he’s decided that, even as the prime target of the insurrection, he can’t remain politically viable without being anti-anti-insurrection himself.
Let me suggest that the key driver in why the media remains interested in January 6 isn’t because they’re out to demean anyone. It’s because Pence’s former boss remains insanely consumed with falsely alleging fraud in the election that precipitated the riot, to the point where he seems to believe the results might still be decertified this year. The rioters gathered that morning in Washington to hear Trump allege cheating a few hours before Congress would meet to certify Biden’s win, knowing how desperate he was to obstruct the process. They reacted accordingly. But instead of the GOP showing remorse for having supported the “stop the steal” propaganda that led to that, practically everyone except Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger has bitten their tongues. Day after day Trump continues to push the narrative that he was defrauded out of reelection and nearly all of Republican Washington either agrees with him enthusiastically or dares disagree only in the gentlest terms.
For instance, here’s another pitiful creature like Pence who’s doing her best to walk the line between acknowledging the reality that Biden won fairly and feeding the delusional grievance about election-rigging that’s now become mandatory for GOP hopefuls:
Nikki Haley calls Donald Trump a friend and says she would consult with him before embarking on a White House bid, but the former United Nations ambassador disagrees with the former president when it comes to the outcome of the 2020 election.
“There was fraud in the election, but I don’t think that the numbers were so big that it swayed the vote in the wrong direction,” Ms. Haley said in an interview ahead of a Tuesday evening appearance at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif…
“He has a strong legacy from his administration,” Ms. Haley said. “He has the ability to get strong people elected, and he has the ability to move the ball, and I hope that he continues to do that. We need him in the Republican Party. I don’t want us to go back to the days before Trump.”
“Trump is right that meaningful fraud occurred but not *quite* so meaningfully that it changed the result” almost counts as courage among what’s left of the prostrate, benighted GOP establishment to which Haley and Pence belong. Her position makes no sense: By “fraud” I assume she means organized fraud, the kind Republican voters care about, in which case why would Biden’s allies risk committing a crime like fraud on a scale sufficiently small that he didn’t actually need the bogus votes they provided to win?
She’s not trying to make sense, though. She’s trying to stay balanced on a political highwire. Tell Republican voters there was fraud, tell swing voters that it didn’t change the outcome, and hope that the blowback to the mushiness of your position from either side doesn’t push you off.
In the clip below Pence touts his campaign work for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin in arguing the party should focus on the future, not past events like January 6. But again, the party can’t do that because Trump won’t let the election go. Just ask … Glenn Youngkin:
Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin continues to call for an “audit” of the voting machines in his state, an echo of the Republican push to investigate 2020 election results around the country following former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of fraud.
“I think we need to make sure that people trust these voting machines,” Youngkin said at a Monday event hosted by a Richmond civics group, according to a video reviewed by POLITICO. “I grew up in a world where you have an audit every year, in businesses you have an audit. So let’s just audit the voting machines, publish it so everybody can see it.”
Biden won Virginia by 10 points. Faulty voting machines didn’t create that margin and Youngkin knows it. But he’s on a highwire just like Haley is. How can he wink at the MAGA voters he needs by pandering to their paranoia while also reassuring swing voters that he’s not a crank? His solution is to focus on process. He’s not saying the vote was rigged, he just wants to give Trumpers a few more months of hope that they might yet uncover the great vote-rigging conspiracy. That’s what a sane, centrist, “electable” establishment Republican has to do to turn out all corners of his base nowadays.
And that’s why the media remains focused on January 6. It’s because the “rigged election” fantasy remains front and center in Republican politics thanks to Trump, practically becoming a litmus test for high office. If Ron DeSantis were to run in 2024 and declare categorically that Biden won legitimately and it was time for everyone to get over it, he’d be dead on arrival in a GOP primary. Meanwhile, Republicans in some states have used the suspicion encouraged by Trump about the integrity of the last election as a pretext to expand the power of GOP-controlled institutions over the administration of the next one. With Trump-backed loyalists like Jody Hice in Georgia aiming to replace election officials like Brad Raffensperger who refused to meddle in his state’s process, the pieces are falling into place for a second attempt at overturning the election if it doesn’t go Trump’s way again in 2024. Except this time he’ll have personnel he can count on in key roles at the state level to look for reasons to toss Democratic ballots. And possibly state legislatures who’ll be willing to appoint their own slate of pro-Trump electors in states where he falls short.
If Mike Pence were serious about leading the party into the future, he’d be more worried about that than trying to turn coverage of Trump’s January 6 fixation into a new “deplorables” grievance for the MAGA base.
Here’s Pence with Hannity last night. Exit question: Even if the media were trying to demean Trump voters by focusing on the riot, how demeaned could they possibly feel when more than half of them regard the riot as an example of “patriotism” or “defending freedom”?