Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 28, 2011

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PENCE'S DECISION.... Rep. Mike Pence (R) of Indiana, a darling of the far-right, has flirted for quite a while with the notion of a presidential campaign. Yesterday, however, the former House Conference chairman announced that he would skip the race for the White House.

Pence's decision not to seek national office in favor of a likely run for governor of Indiana is a major blow to conservative activists and tea party leaders, who saw Pence as someone who could unite the traditional GOP base -- evangelical and social conservatives -- with the tea party's fiscal hawks.

And it's left a major opening for someone in a heavily crowded GOP presidential field: At the Value Voters Summit last year, Pence won the straw poll for both president and vice president, beating better-known candidates like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.

"I am selfishly disappointed," said Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center and longtime conservative activist who was among a group of Washington conservatives urging Pence to run for president -- and whose support is now up for grabs. "I don't have a number two. I had a number one and a whole bunch of people are running for number two."

Nationwide, Pence is far from a household name, but in conservative circles, the guy is something of a giant. Pence's willingness to consider a presidential campaign wasn't just the result of an unhealthy ego; he was actively being pushed to run by the likes of Dick Armey and former Rep. Jim Ryun. Ralph Benko, a Republican consultant and veteran of the Reagan White House, actually created an organization committed to drafting Pence. "He's the complete package," Benko said of Pence last week.

In the short term, Pence's announcement will cause some scrambling in 2012 circles, with other all-but-announced candidates reaching out to Pence's backers for support. Indeed, the congressman will now have one of the year's most sought after endorsements.

But stepping back, it's worth pondering two questions: (1) why in the world would anyone consider Mike Pence a credible presidential candidate? and (2) how woefully underwhelming is the existing GOP 2012 field if major players were giving serious consideration to a dimwitted House member?

I can appreciate the fact that Pence's unyielding right-wing voting record on literally every issue is appreciated by the far-right -- he checks all the boxes, taking a very conservative line that satisfies all the various party factions.

But to say that the guy isn't ready for prime time is a dramatic understatement. Pence has no areas of expertise, has no major pieces of legislation to his name, has demonstrated no working understanding of any area of public policy, and after spending five minutes watching him speak on any subject, it becomes clear that he's conspicuously unintelligent.

I'm reminded of something Matt Yglesias wrote a while back about the Indiana congressman. "Mike Pence is a moron, and any movement that would hold the guy up as a hero is bankrupt," Matt explained, adding, "I would refer you to this post from September about the earth-shattering ignorance and stupidity of Mike Pence.... [I]t's really staggering. In my admittedly brief experience talking to him, his inability to grasp the basic contours of policy question was obvious and overwhelming."

That Pence is skipping the presidential campaign is probably a good thing for the country. But that so many Republicans wanted him to run in the first place is a reminder of the sorry state of the Republican field and the contemporary GOP in general.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

One of my best friends for almost 40 years works for a US security agency, and he's had to meet with, and testify before Congressional committee's often, and he says that Pence is the dumbest MFer in Congress, if not on the whole planet - bar none.
Maybe he hasn't met Bachmann, S. King, or Goemert.
But then, maybe he has.
I'll have to ask him in a week when I see him at a Super Bowl party.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 28, 2011 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

" serious consideration to a dimwitted House member?"

-but apparently smart enough to see that the re-election of Obama is a given.

Posted by: DAY on January 28, 2011 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

We elected George Bush didn't we? Wisconsin elected Bachman.

Posted by: edr on January 28, 2011 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

...he checks all the boxes...
...it becomes clear that he's conspicuously unintelligent.

Conspicuous unintelligence IS one of the boxes.

Posted by: Jennifer on January 28, 2011 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Looks like we dogged a real opportunity to solidify progressives. Oh well, there is always PALINaroundwithterrorists and NitNewt. Sorry, I know most of you are just finishing breakfast and would like to keep it down...

Posted by: stevio on January 28, 2011 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Wisconsin elected Bachman.

Well that explains a lot. I was always confused by her presence in the Minnesota delegation, they just seem so sensible outside her. Now I find it's those wily Badgers who are actually responsible. :)

Posted by: Realist on January 28, 2011 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

There are no tea party deficit hawks. You could say the same of fiscal conservatives. They don't exist. It's a myth like Jesus.

If you look at the last 30 years the republicans have increased the deficit and the debt every time they are in charge of the country.


Back to the Tea Pee's.

The TEA PARTY DOES NOT EXIST. They are nothing more than the base of the GOP. They are the ignorant white trash of the Republican party. The same people that showed up with misspelled signs supporting Palin and McCain.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

They still see Bush in a favorable light and believe Obama and the Dems bankrupted the country.

I like to call them political mental patients.

Posted by: sensistar on January 28, 2011 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

(1) why in the world would anyone consider Mike Pence a credible presidential candidate?

Come on. It's been painfully obvious for many years now that the oligarchy needs a malleable golem, someone who does what he/she is told, and who is generally conspicuously lacking empathy for anyone who is non-rich.

(2) how woefully underwhelming is the existing GOP 2012 field if major players were giving serious consideration to a dimwitted House member?

See the answer to #1.

Steve, really, it's okay to state the obvious. The oligarchs will not submit someone who is thoughtful about inequality or who is empathetic to the plight of anyone not affiliated with the banksters. It's okay to call them liars (not "confused" or some other 'civil' term as is your wont), and it's okay to point out that they are all ciphers.

Posted by: terraformer on January 28, 2011 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for those links, which remind me of why I first started reading Yglesias. (But oh how fallen, how changed ...)

Posted by: somethingblue on January 28, 2011 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm, 'amiable dimwit.' What could possibly go wrong with that?

Posted by: MattF on January 28, 2011 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

"pushed to run by.....former Rep Jim Ryun"

Pun intended?

Posted by: berttheclock on January 28, 2011 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Morning Joe had a piece today on "the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination." Everyone they discussed either a: hasn't announced that they're running or b: specifically announced they're NOT running. Shouldn't we wait for at least two people to line up on their marks before we call it a "race?"

Posted by: slappy magoo on January 28, 2011 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Terraformer is on target. Pence "looks" the part, could play a president on the silver screen, handsome with good hair. I'm a little slow but it finally became clear to me that the GOP perfect candidate is a good looking, malleable, compassion free, wealth worshiping stoodge like Pence. Palin could be dangerous, she might defy her handlers and start a nuclear war.

Posted by: Kathryn on January 28, 2011 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Pence and the Lovely Lass Lindsey Graham went with Senator McCrap on a trip to Iraq. During that trip, they went to an outdoor market in Bagdad. The Army provided security via several hundred troops and a major utilization of helicopters.

After that 'shopping trip', Pence declared that "The markets in Bagdad are as safe as any outdoor markets in Indiana." The following week that Bagdad market was targeted for bombings and mulitple civilian deaths. I have not gone to any outdoor markets in Indiana since.

It has long been my contention that Mike Pence is 'the 2nd stupidest person on the face of this planet and we are still looking for the one person stupider'.

BUT, he has a 'pretty face' and he remembers his Frank Luntz talking points well; therefore he is a 'credible' teabagger candidate.

Posted by: SadOldVet on January 28, 2011 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

That Pence is skipping the presidential campaign is probably a good thing for the country.

I dunno. I for one would welcome the opportunity for American voters to take a good look at the true face of know-nothing movement conservatism and (apart from the 28% Tea Party dead-enders) reject it entirely.

Remember, Republicans usually have to pretend they support popular New Deal policies and aren't trying to impose a Christian theocracy. Pence makes no such pretense.

Posted by: Gregory on January 28, 2011 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

But to say that the guy isn't ready for prime time is a dramatic understatement.

You're forgetting the Most Important Criterion: is Pence someone with whom you'd like to have a beer?

Posted by: josef on January 28, 2011 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

From the footage of Pence
I've seen,
I've thought him merely a Putz
who looked and dressed
quite clean!
-Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 28, 2011 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

These people seem to forget that Americans elect presidents from one of five categories: Governors, Vice-Presidents, Senators, War Heroes, or high-level Cabinet members.

Nobody has made it to the Presidency after only serving in the House except Lincoln, and that was an unusual election. Maybe that's why Pence wants to run for governor.

Posted by: Speed on January 28, 2011 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

"He is the complete package" pretty much says it all. If Pence is the "package" the GOP thinks is the real deal, then they are in bad shape. Why? because the hard line he espouses is nowhere near what the majority of American's want or believe. The GOP is a dying breed, dependent on older white racists and crazy people.
Pence may say he's not running, but these guys lie all the time so there is plenty of time for him to change his mind. Just take a look at who has expressed interest in the nomination...Palin, Bachmann, Gingrich, Giuliani, and a host of has been's and never will be's.

Posted by: T2 on January 28, 2011 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Pence has no areas of expertise, has no major pieces of legislation to his name, has demonstrated no working understanding of any area of public policy, and after spending five minutes watching him speak on any subject, it becomes clear that he's conspicuously unintelligent.

Palin without the starbursts. But pretty soon Palin will be Palin without the starbursts; as a penile-American, Pence doesn't have to worry about losing his looks.

Posted by: Joey Maloney on January 28, 2011 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

From the movie Forrest Gump: Stupid is as stupid does ....

On the NPR story this am about the tea party "caucus" in the senate - all 3 stooges, a very earnest TPer was exhorting DeMint to cut 1.4 trillion OUT OF THIS YEARs budget.

Pence seems like a good fit for them.

Posted by: bigtuna on January 28, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Palin's going to be pissed that you've passed the "conspicuously unintelligent" mantle to Pence, Steve.

Not that he's undeserving, of course.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on January 28, 2011 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Surely the Republicans would never nominate a dimwit!

Posted by: short fuse on January 28, 2011 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

A friend of mine attended Hanover College in Indiana in the late 1970s - early 1980s. He had an RA who was, in his words, "a real dipshit, complete moron, but president of one of the frats and hated anyone who wasn't a big-shot from money."

The RA?

Mike Pence.

Plus ca change, etc.

WF

Posted by: Wes F. in Hapeville on January 28, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

"We elected George Bush didn't we? Wisconsin elected Bachman." Posted by edr @ 8:20.

Uh, no, MINNESOTA elected Bachmann, not Wisconsin. There are a lot of nutcases in my home state of WI, to be sure, but not enough to vote for that idiot. That distinction belongs to the Gopher State.

Posted by: Patrick Star on January 28, 2011 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Hence, "Pence the dense..."

Posted by: Brian on January 28, 2011 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

"I had a number one and a whole bunch of people are running for number two." Heh, heh (with apologies to Beavis and Butthead).
Pretty much all you need to know about the modern Republican Party.

Posted by: Stoneman on January 28, 2011 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with terraformer above at 8:33 AM and with Kathryn at 9:08 AM.

OK, so Pence is a moron who checked all the blocks on the right-wing political checklist. So the right-wing Republicans desperately want him to run for President. What's going on here?

Someone with lots of money thinks that if Pence were elected President they could manipulate him. They want another President like George W. Bush. Who is that "someone"?

My first guess is that it is a group that includes the libertarian Koch Brothers (funders of the CATO Institute) and the radical Christian Reconstructionist Howard Ahramson, funder of the Discovery Institute and strong proponent of Intelligent Design. Certainly it includes the Evangelicals, the hate group "the Family Research Council" as well as the owners of the mega Churches.

There is definitely an effort by the oligarchs and their religious propaganda ministers (who make up the social conservatives) to take control of America away from the rest of us. The effort to do away with the inheritance tax, to force women to bear the children of rape, even down to female children at age 13 and even if it kills the women, as well as the effort to destroy the public education system are all symptoms of the attack to destroy America and exploit the ruins.

Anyone who wants more cities destroyed the way Bush destroyed New Orleans after Katrina will love the crew pushing the ultra-conservative Republican Astro-turf organization called the Tea Partiers. Give them power and they will destroy all of America, then blame the destruction on the Democrats and the liberals.

Posted by: Rick B on January 28, 2011 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

But to say that the guy isn't ready for prime time is a dramatic understatement. Pence has no areas of expertise, has no major pieces of legislation to his name, has demonstrated no working understanding of any area of public policy, and after spending five minutes watching him speak on any subject, it becomes clear that he's conspicuously unintelligent.

These are precisely Pence's strong points. If the popularity of Sister Sarah + Dubya didn't remind you, smarts + competence are a clear negative in today's GOP.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on January 28, 2011 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Dumb as a post.

But such nice hair.

As good an explanation of his appeal as any other I can think of.

Posted by: Rasputin22 on January 28, 2011 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Echoing some of the earlier commenters, when the GOP says they're looking for the next Ronald Reagan, this is what they mean.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on January 28, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

What can you say? Obviously the Republican base loves them some dumbbells. They want someone in the White House who's just like them.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on January 28, 2011 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the Republican base loves them some dumbbells! Frightened people are attracted to the dumb and simplistic leaders.

It's called identity politics. And those who want the power and wealth that goes with the leadership positions stoke the fears in their base to get there.

Posted by: Rick B on January 28, 2011 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Sell us a president, agency man
Smiling Big Brother, stern father perhaps
Sell us a president, agency man
A gay smiling nothing we know never craps

Let's try California,
(Pay us first before we do it!)
We'll get a smiling Nazi
And march him right on through it
Rent a baby
Kiss a baby
Ladies in for tea

And here's a bunch of speeches
We'll toss them in for free

Sell us a president, agency man
Smiling Big Brother, stern father perhaps
Sell us a president, agency man
A gay smiling nothing we know never craps

We'll sell him in the movies
On the tube throughout the year
We'll sell him by the buckets
To the Okies drinking beer
We'll teach him how to walk and talk
We'll putty up his chin
We'll print his picture everywhere
Of course the SCHMUCK will win

From the heart of old Death Valley
To the ruling of our land
A simple trick, you simple pigs
Just the way we planned

"Agency Man"
The Mothers of Invention
1968

Posted by: Death Panel Truck on January 28, 2011 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Frightened people are attracted to the dumb and simplistic leaders.

It's not fear half as much as hatred. Hatred of all things liberal. The base is programmed to despise those who espouse beliefs that do not benefit the rich and powerful. They're led to believe that someday they'll be rich too, so goddamnit, we gotta keep the liberals from punishing the wealthy, who earned every cent of their money through hard work! Regulations? Just another liberal plot to destroy the economy! Tolerance? Fuck that! There are still some brown people in the Middle East with oil? Bomb them!

Hate. The GOP base is percolating in it.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on January 28, 2011 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Mike Pence is a moron, and any movement that would hold the guy up as a hero is bankrupt,"

Has anyone ever seen L. Brent Bozo IV in action? He literally foams at the mouth and sprays spittle, and gets upset enough to threaten violence on the set, going to far as to get out of his seat and threaten to assault the object of his rage.

This is the son of L. Brent Bozo III, who was such a nut that William F. Buckley Jr. had to expel him from the National Review 40 years ago.

So, for this moronic fool to think that Mike Pence was the best guy to become President goes far to prove t hat "birds of a feather, flock together."

Posted by: TCinLA on January 28, 2011 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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