If there were a Toady Magazine and it had a "Toady of the Year" Award, Mike Pence would have swept it every year from 2017 to 2022. But not in 2023. It is hardly a secret that in private, nearly all Republican senators despise Donald Trump even more than they despise Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), but none of them dares to say a word criticizing Trump in public, That also holds for many other current and former Republican office holders, including—until this past Saturday—Mike Pence.
On Saturday, Pence spoke at the annual dinner for journalists at the prestigious Gridiron Club and said: "History will hold Donald Trump accountable for Jan. 6. Make no mistake about it: What happened that day was a disgrace, and it mocks decency to portray it in any other way. President Trump was wrong. His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day."
What got into Pence? Food poisoning? Something in the water? Was he just in a foul mood? Was he unable to eat dinner because there were women in the room and none of them was his wife? Or is he running for president in the non-Trump lane? No other high-profile Republican, let alone a presidential candidate, has hit Trump so directly and hard. All the others (at least in public) treat him as "he who shall not be named." Pence's remarks had the room buzzing all evening. Mostly with two questions:
If Pence follows up and continues to bash Trump, he will take a lot incoming fire from his former boss. Will he fight back? If so, it could help him if Trump flames out, but that seems unlikely at the moment. More likely, an open battle between Trump and Pence would allow Ron DeSantis to say he was the adult in the room and not have to bother attacking Trump himself, just letting Pence do all the heavy lifting. (V)