Trump is, alas, not that man. He’s had multiple opportunities to rise to the occasion during the pandemic and show the strong, compassionate leadership the country craves. Instead, he is focusing his attention on his paranoid jeremiad against nonexistent mass voter fraud — more intent on staying in his job than doing it. It’s sad that even the compassionate and intelligent people he’s close to, such as first lady Melania Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump, can’t seem to use the influence they have to move him to action.

Pence, however, is not beset with regret or consumed with wild conspiracy theories. He is a serious and compassionate man who surely understands the gravity of the situation and has the administrative ability to oversee a federal emergency effort. He has also spent four years patiently building and wielding influence within the White House, including as head of the administration’s Coronavirus Task Force. He’s not the president, but perhaps he can persuade the president to let him act like one now.

Pence should also be cognizant of the political moment. Many polls show that he leads the prospective field of potential Republican nominees in 2024 if Trump does not run again. He would surely cement that status if he were to visibly head an effort designed to save American lives. Such a role would also subtly distance himself from the man in whose shadow he has toiled. While Trump fiddled and America burned, Pence rounded up the local fire brigades to douse the flames.