Commentary: Donald Trump’s Desperate Truth

first_imgBy John INDIANAPOLIS – Every big news story reveals illuminating truths.The battle over President Donald Trump’s possible impeachment is no exception.Here’s one: Trump is worried about Vice President Mike Pence.John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.comHe has reason to be. It’s not that Pence will turn on him. No, it’s that Pence will begin to look like an attractive alternative to the constant chaos of the Trump presidency.That’s why the president threw the vice president under the bus a few days ago by saying Congress should investigate Pence’s phone calls, too. Trump knows that many Republicans in the House of Representatives – where Pence served for a dozen years – and the Senate would prefer to deal with a President Pence rather than him.One reason is ideological. Pence is more conventionally conservative than Trump, who in the past has mused about adopting a single-payer healthcare system, among other rightwing heresies.Conservatives know Pence is one of them. He never met a tax cut he didn’t like. He believes regulating big business is always wrong but that restricting women’s reproductive choices or the right of members of the LGBTQ community to pursue happiness is okay.But that’s not at the heart of the discomfort Republican officeholders feel. They say quietly that Pence would be more predictable and easier to deal with than Trump.Many Republicans in Congress have the same Trump fatigue much of the country experiences. They’re tired of the non-stop stream of silly, often self-destructive fights, the daily Twitter-fueled feuds and the endless upheaval.They want a little peace.Pence would give them that.That weariness of spirit accounts for the assessments by veteran GOP political strategist Mike Murphy and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, that between 30 and 35 Republican senators would vote to remove Trump from office if they could so by secret ballot.There’s another dynamic at work, too.When Trump took the oath of office, the members of the Republican Party establishment had two big-ticket items on their agenda. They wanted a huge tax cut for the wealthy, and they wanted to gain control over the U.S. Supreme Court.They needed Trump’s help with those things.He delivered.Trump nominated Federalist Society-approved conservatives Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh for the nation’s highest court, and he signed one of the deepest and most regressive tax cuts in American history into law.But now that those two things have been done, Republicans don’t need his help as much as they once did. Given their druthers, they’d opt not to renew the Donald Trump White House reality show for another season.But there is a complicating factor.They’re scared of Donald Trump. They fear primary challenges or, just as bad, that his relatively small but ferociously loyal base of voters would desert the GOP in a general election.For that reason, they will cling to him until it becomes clear that standing with Trump costs them more than abandoning him.That’s the way politics works.There is a lovely myth that Republicans during the Watergate era took principled stands when they pushed President Richard Nixon out of office. The reality is Republicans saw they were headed for disaster in the 1974 congressional elections if Nixon still was the head of the party when voters went to the polls. They threw him overboard to save themselves.It was an act of self-preservation, not political courage.Whatever his other faults, Trump’s own instincts for self-preservation are first-rate. As polls began to show that more and more Americans now favor impeachment, the president saw a way to create an additional barricade for political self-defense.The line of succession says that should a sitting president die or leave the office for any reason, the vice president becomes president. If the vice president can’t do so, then the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives becomes president.Trump’s implication of his vice president was a message – and not a subtle one. He was warning any wavering Republicans that, should they be tempted to abandon him, he’d take Pence down with him. That would leave them with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, as president.Does that seem a bit panicky on the president’s part?Yeah, but these are desperate times for him.They call for desperate measures.That reveal desperate truths.FOOTNOTE: John Krull is the director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img

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