Finally! Written confirmation of what we’ve long known: Steve Bannon doesn’t think highly of Mike Pence, or “Wobbly Pence,” as incorrigible provocateur Milo (with Bannon’s approval) referred to the former Indiana governor. So much was revealed in emails released to Buzzfeed earlier this week:
“An unfortunate necessity.” “A deal with the devil.” “The price we pay for cruzbots and a #nevertrump movement.”
After being ousted by John Kelly’s West Wing purge, Bannon is setting his sights (and siccing his disciples) on the GOP establishment. Despite his proximity to the President, Pence is a top mark.
If the first salvo is a sign of what’s to come, then it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Vice President. The VP’s support for establishment favorite Luther Strange in the Alabama GOP primary couldn’t stave off the junior Senator’s loss to maniacal Christian nationalist Roy Moore, the Bannon-backed disgraced former Alabama Chief Justice.
With that hefty win under his belt, Bannon looks to continue trolling Pence and the GOP establishment, replicating his success in other races around the country, targeting the likes of incumbents Senators John Barrasso (WY) and Roger Wicker (MI), and setting the stage for an no-holds-barred war to control the conservative narrative which will no doubt see Pence in action in the trenches.
What a week it has been! And where better to begin than last week.
The release of emails revealing the alt-right’s condemnation of Pence comes at an opportune time, really, at least for those fighting on the fringe front.
Last week, Mike Pence experienced a rather unfamiliar feeling for residents of the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue adult day care center: a surge in popularity. This bump in favorability seemingly irked his boss, already reeling from reports that his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had called a “fucking moron.”
The following week—directed by a Commander in Chief apparently unburdened by the need to handle several historically devastating natural disasters and the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history—Pence ran up several hundred thousand dollars in travel costs to condemn protests by San Francisco players against racial injustice, walking out of the stadium after several 49ers kneel during the national anthem.
This primetime “statement” on NFL Sunday cost $242,000. Had he skipped the political stunt, his travel to Las Vegas for a scheduled appearance at the memorial prayer walk would have cost $45,000. That leaves taxpayers footing $200,000.
When he finally did arrive in Las Vegas, he refused to address gun control, instead continuing to offer thoughts and prayers to all those affected.
And all that was before the workweek started.
Following the memorial prayer walk on Sunday, Pence flew to California for three days of fundraising for GOP congressional candidates (including Russia’s fave House member, Dana Rohrabacher) and speeches about the administration's recent tax proposal. On Monday, he found himself in Sacramento, pledging federal assistance to fire-swept Northern California just days before the President threatened to abandon Puerto Rico recovery efforts. On Tuesday, he was in Bakersfield visiting The Spaceship Company, where he received a tour of businesses developing commercial space flight capabilities. This comes a week after he introduced a reconstituted National Space Council and promised to put humans on the moon again.
Never one to pass up a PR scam, the President and his team sent out a fundraising email Monday—subject line “VP under fire for standing for”—seeking donations to the GOP in the wake of the taxpayer-funded NFL stunt. But by Wednesday, Trump had apparently forgotten his reverence for the military and the troops, remaining seated during an interview with Sean Hannity (where the topic was… respect for the flag and troops) while “Retreat,” the traditional signal of end of the official duty day on military installations, played in the distance. The President jested that the song was being played in celebration of the Fox News host’s ratings.
Pence waded into the feud between Trump and retiring Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, sparked by Corker’s comments that the President’s threats could lead the US “on the path to World War III.” Pence denounced the remarks as “empty rhetoric,” claiming instead that his boss had “restored the credibility of American power,” and that “no amount of criticism at home can diminish those results.”
Remember the email scandal? No, not the one involving Hillary Clinton—the one involving the AOL.com accounts Mike Pence kept as governor. Yep. That’s still a thing. This week it was reported that “Indiana officials are refusing to release an indeterminate number of emails...and they're not saying whether the vice president's lawyers influenced which messages should be withheld.”
The creepy veep, a noted climate change denier, has long been an ardent supporter of the destruction that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is wreaking on the natural world. So we’re sure he was all smiles when Pruitt declared “the war on coal is over” on Tuesday as he signed a rule to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Pruitt wants to eliminate federal tax credits to wind and solar power industries, preferring to trust utility companies to make the best decisions for the common good. And in what might very well be the most frightening signal of all, the phrase “climate change” does not appear in the EPA’s draft four-year strategic plan, nor any mention of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas.
On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that ended Affordable Care Act subsidies for the poor, eliminating regulations governing small businesses that join together to buy health insurance. The order will also lift limits on short-term insurance coverage and expand ways workers could use employer-funded accounts to buy their own insurance policies. In practice, this means cheap, junk coverage for healthier, younger consumers and higher costs for the sick. This policy is likely to cause chaos among health insurance exchanges and further undermine the ACA marketplace. After proudly announcing his destructive plan, Trump walked off, and Pence had to remind him to actually sign the EO.
What else is happening?
Pence’s former chief of staff and longtime aide of 12 years Josh Pitcock landed a new job at the tech company Oracle, having left the White House in August during the high-profile exodus including that included Bannon and press secretary Sean Spicer. He will assume the role of vice president of government affairs.
What does Pence have planned for the weekend?
Despite a poor showing in the Alabama primary, Pence plans on making an appearance in Virginia to stump for GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie at a campaign stop in Abingdon. The former lobbyist and ex-RNC chair stands for tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the working class, wants to lessen investment in infrastructure such as transportation and high-speed internet, and as chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee helped engineer redistricting that resulted in Republican takeovers of statehouses around the country. Shouldn’t come as any surprise that Mike is a BIG fan.