To become vice president, Pence—who had been the kind of Republican who preached about morality and virtue—looked past all Trump’s sordid scandals and sleazy smears. For the past four years, he has dutifully played the role of the suited Stepford man, nodding along pleasantly during Trump’s unhinged speeches. He stood by Trump’s side as Muslims were banned, as children were separated from their parents, as white supremacists were elevated, as peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square were tear-gassed.
So it wasn’t hard for Pence not to blink when confronted with the wretched death toll of 210,000 dead from COVID. He is accustomed to such things by now. Nothing can shock him. Nothing can move him.
In a way, this demonstrates the depth of the problem we face: Even if Trump loses by a massive margin in November, Mike Pence will still be hanging around on the periphery, trying to position himself to run for the presidency himself. Looking back on the wreckage of the last four years, some people have suggested the creation of something like a truth and reconciliation commission. That’s not likely, for any number of reasons, but we do need at least to find a way to ask this hard question: How can we allow people—like Pence—who were responsible for our egregious COVID death toll to continue in public life?