The much-respected Public Policy Polling group in a recent poll blared the headline "Americans now evenly divided on Impeaching Trump." This is no surprise. The presidential election results were barely finalized in November when the furious talk, speculation, and outright calls began for Trump's impeachment. Since then, not a moment has passed without an article, a petition, a constitutional or ethics expert, or a Democratic congressperson musing about or demanding impeachment. Trump hasn't committed any act yet that even remotely rises to the high bar of impeachment offenses. And even if he had, or in the future does, the GOP controlled House and the GOP controlled Senate would have to approve it and then try and convict him. The chances of that happening are slim to none--at this point.
If the point is ever reached where Trump is deemed expendable by the GOP the presidential succession is clear; you get VP Mike Pence. Now some of the more conspiratorial minded think that this was the GOP game plan all along. Elect Trump, let him stumble, and bumble, make a complete buffoon of himself, and then trip over some shady business deal or blatant obstruction of justice or some falsehood that endangers national security, and then he's toast. At that point, Pence who knows the legislative process through and through, is tightly connected to the GOP establishment, and is a proven administrator steps in.
The conspiracy angle is a colossal stretch. However, the desirability of Pence running the White House show is not. Pence in fact would be the ultra-conservative's dream come true. Every major civil liberties, civil rights, and education, and environmental groups have consistently given him straight Fs on their report cards for elected officials. While every conservative and ultra-conservative group has given him straight As on their legislative report card.
The checklist of Pence positions on the issues reads like a what's what of the Heritage Foundation and ultra-conservative think tank positions. His anti-position on same sex marriage, public school emphasis, union protections, hate crimes laws, corporate checks, and equitable corporate taxing, separation of church and state are well known and were well-honed during his stint as Indiana governor. Unlike Trump in the White House, he was able to translate his fixed-in-stone believes into law and public policy. He did it because he knew how to skillfully work the levels of political power, made no wildly inflammatory statements, and was personally pleasant and affable. In other words, he worked stealthily, quietly, and largely under the media and public radar scope to do his political dirty work. Pence's crafty, under public view style was on full display when with no fanfare, public statements, or defiant tweets, cast the tie-breaking voted to confirm the atrocious Betty DeVos as Trump's Education Secretary.
On issues, such as building a border wall, immigrant restrictions, Obamacare, and public education, Pence would not do or say anything inflammatory to stir tens of thousands to immediately sprint to the streets in anger, or have Hollywood celebrities thundering at him from nationally televised film award ceremonies, or have legions of advocacy groups furiously taking out ads and sending out action alerts on something outrageous that came of his mouth. However, the result would be the same. He'd figure out a way to get the money and the congressional support to build a border barrier. He'd institute tighter immigration controls with the full support of Congress. He'd come up with a plan that the GOP and maybe even some Democrats could agree on to dump Obamacare. He'd gradually increase funding and resources, and shape policy directives for vouchers, religious schools, and charter schools. He'd get rid of the Common Core requirement along the way.
He'd do it all very quietly and with a bland smiling face. He'd do what Trump only talks about doing, and that's manipulate the political process to get rid of political enemies while changing the policies of his they oppose. A textbook example was his spat with Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction during his tenure as Governor. She opposed many of his education policies. So, what did he do? He simply created a new education agency, funded it, and then reworked the Superintendent position to where the superintendent had to be appointed by the Board of Education. Now guess who appointed the members of the Board? That person was not someone not named Governor Pence.
President Pence would not instantly and perpetually mobilize millions here and abroad against his policies. There would be no juicy, media pandering, sensational sound bites. His speeches would be tightly scripted, carefully calibrated, and strictly on policy emphasis. He would be continually closeted with the GOP House and Senate leadership to insure the smooth and coordinated radical administrative, judicial and legislative changes that ultra-conservatives have long pined for on everything from abortion to climate change to unlimited Wall Street and Corporate giveaways to public education to the SCOTUS.
So, remember, impeach Trump, and you get Pence. But, unlike Trump, he'd do it all with a bland poker face, and a smile.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of In Scalia's Shadow: The Trump Supreme Court ( Amazon Kindle). He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.