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A lot has been said about the fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head during the debate with Kamala Harris. Given the fact that Joe Biden was the only adult participating in the presidential debate, the Pence/Harris vice presidential event was fairly consequential. I don’t think a fly merits the degree of attention it received.

Given the fact that Mr. Pence seems to be controlled by a mobile robotics device, I assumed that he may have been wired to faithfully follow the dictates of a megalomaniac, but he simply has not been programmed to brush off flies.

I don’t think Pence gets the blame he deserves for his participation in the most morally and ethically corrupt administration in the country’s history. He may look like the quintessential Republican statesman: The smug superiority with never a hair out of place and a voice always pitched to an ever-so-reasonable timbre. He doesn’t even wince when Donald Trump makes one of his idiotic statements. But, the image is much closer to a pious caricature than it will ever be to Lincoln.

Self-righteous finger wagging about anything that smacks of sex seems to be an integral part of right-wing religious convictions. I’m sure Jerry Falwell, Jr. did his share of it before he was forced to tender his resignation as the head of Liberty University, a Mecca for those who aspire to get their higher education on the straight and narrow. Among his other peccadilloes, Mr. Falwell enjoyed watching his wife have sex with another man.

Mr. Pence refuses to eat alone with a woman and he won’t attend occasions where alcohol is served without his wife by his side. This might impress people whose moral compass is fixed in centuries long past, but by today’s standards, it seems to evidence a singular inability to exercise some self-control over a rampaging libido. Just get a grip, Mike.

Despite the Puritan façade, in many ways, the vice president is more morally adrift than his boss. The thought of a Pence elevation to the Oval Office is the only reason that anyone could possibly wish that Mr. Trump be allowed to finish out his term.

Trump, who demonstrates the validity of his inane ramblings by holding his hands out like he is measuring the size of an imaginary fish, is what he is. He isn’t a phony nincompoop; he is a genuine one with neither the skill nor the desire to present himself in any other way. There is something perversely admirable in that, although how any intelligent person could still support him will probably assume a status in enduring mysteries alongside Amelia Earhart and Jack the Ripper.

Pence drips platitudinous sanctimony as if pouring more syrup on moldy pancakes will make them more digestible. He is a consummate phony who must know by now that Trump is the antithesis of everything he supposedly reveres.

If Pence won’t eat a hot dog without his devoted wife at his side, Trump has a history of lechery that D. H. Lawrence would be hard pressed to chronicle. Truth has to be the cornerstone for any Christian beliefs. Trump lies as easily as he breathes. Civility and compassion, especially towards those less fortunate (“the least among you”) must be extended to everyone. Pence is an integral part of an administration that separated children from their families.

Although most everyone’s past transgressions pale when they are contrasted with Donald Trump’s libidinous, corrupt history, Squeaky Clean Mike isn’t without his own skeletons. Mr. Pence lost his bid to represent Indiana in the House in 1990 because he used campaign contributions to pay his mortgage, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees, and car payments for his wife (presumably so she could join him in restaurants filled with women).

He used the same excuse that cornered politicians have used since the Stone Age: It wasn’t exactly illegal.

Mr. Pence was appointed to oversee the response to the coronavirus in February after the boss finally conceded that it might be more than a Democratic hoax. With Pence’s appointment, any hope that the government’s ability to address the most urgent problem facing the nation without it being riddled with political interference was effectively quashed. That tradition has been faithfully adhered to as 210,000 Americans have succumbed to COVID-19, more deaths than in any other country in the world. Great job, Mike.

The vice president’s go-to excuse seems to revolve around his baseless opinion that the Trump administration “slowed the progress” of the virus. I don’t even know what that could possibly mean. How do people who have adamantly downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic and scoffed at any measures by medical professionals to combat it have the gall to say that they slowed the swath of death and misery that the virus has cut across the United States?

If Trump’s corruption and avariciousness is just an old story as far as politics go in America, Pence’s motives are more difficult to pinpoint. The idea that serving as vice president is historically proven as a way to ascend to the White House is wishful thinking on a gigantic scale when you have a personality that wouldn’t illuminate the corners of a shoebox. The best spin anyone could possibly put on Pence’s slavish subservience is that, for the sake of injecting his personal and religious convictions into the official policies of the federal government, he is willing to both excuse and condone Trump’s outrageous conduct and inhumane cruelty.

If Trump has little or no conception of the pain and havoc he causes, Mike Pence knows exactly what is happening to this country and his willing complicity makes him a worse human being.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Journal.


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