Monday, October 23, 2017

And A Moron Shall Lead Them

Tom Tomorrow wrote the following in the e-mail which brought today's 'toon to the blogger's In Box:

Hey all,

Queueing this up early before I head to Iowa City for my weekend speaking gig, which will be over by the time you read this. I will be speaking/have already spoken at the Englert Theater, where I used to go see movies as a kid, back in the days when they always ran cartoons before the movie. I spent endless hours in that room, between the ages of 5 and maybe 24 or so. It was a vaudeville theater before it was a movie theater, and has returned to its roots as a live performance venue (after an uncertain period when it might have been shut down, or maybe even torn down -- I was long gone from Iowa City at that point, though I did write a letter to the local paper in support of its preservation). Anyway, I have a lot of history in that town and with that room, and it's a kind of weird and cool moment to show my own work there, as I am about to do/have already done, depending on your perspective. I'll let you know how it went next week!

Until then,
Dan (aka Tom)

Tom's/Dan's 'toon title ("State of Denial") could just as easily be the state motto of his immediate destination (Iowa). The Morons in that State of Denial gave the Moron-in-Chief a vote-margin that was second only to St. Dutch in 1984. Of course, the Moron-in-Chief would insist that the election statistics were incorrect and should be investigated by the Commission on Election Integrity because there must have been widespread fraud in Iowa's 1984 vote. Actually, this a nation of denial. If this is a (fair & balanced) fulfillment of H. L. Mencken's 1920 prophecy, so be it.

[x TMW]
State Of Denial
By Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins)


Tom Tomorrow/Dan Perkins

[Dan Perkins is an editorial cartoonist better known by the pen name "Tom Tomorrow." His weekly comic strip, "This Modern World," which comments on current events from a strong liberal perspective, appears regularly in approximately 150 papers across the U.S., as well as on Daily Kos. The strip debuted in 1990 in SF Weekly. Perkins, a long time resident of Brooklyn, New York, currently lives in Connecticut. He received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism in both 1998 and 2002. When he is not working on projects related to his comic strip, Perkins writes a daily political blog, also entitled "This Modern World," which he began in December 2001. More recently, Dan Perkins, pen name Tom Tomorrow, was named the winner of the 2013 Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning. Even more recently, Dan Perkins was a runner-up for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning.]


Copyright © 2017 This Modern World/Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins)



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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Today, The Nickster Presents A Most Def Oval Office Jam (Plus One Clinker)

In January 2017, The Nickster (Nicholas Kristoff) announced a "Donald Trump Poetry Contest" and some of the contributions filled today's essay in the NY Fishwrap. This blogger liked/appreciated all of the selected entries — save one. Perhaps The Nickster must be even-handed with the inclusion of a hateful selection by a Moron-supporter in Asbury, NJ. This blogger is under no such constraints in this blog: the blogger hates the Moron-in-Chief and is sorry there isn't more of 'im. And, the hatred is even more intense toward the morons who voted for a person lower than pond-scum to defile the Oval Office. There is no pity for any of that despicable lot: may they all experience the worst that life has to offer. No exceptions and no exemptions. If there is a Hell, may they all burn together for eternity. And their Moron-in-Chief may bring about a conflagration that will rain fire and fury on all of them. If this is a (fair & balanced) post-election wish, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
Trump Is Inspirational ... For Poetry
By The Nickster (Nicholas Kristoff)


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My readers have the best words, as Donald Trump might say. Evidence for that comes from the caliber of the 2,750 poems submitted to my Trump poetry contest. With the help of the Poetry Society of America, I’ve picked my winners, and here they are, offering us a mix of humor, bite and hope.

Richard Kenney, a published poet from Port Townsend, WA, offered “A Prayer”:

Dear Generals Three:
If he asks for The Football,
Link arms: Take a knee.

Lisa Grunberger, an associate professor at Temple University who is Jewish, wrote about the vandalism of her house in Philadelphia. An excerpt:

A “J” spray-painted on my olive green house in South Philly,
Its white-hooked tail grazes my daughter’s head.

A skinhead, says my neighbor Jorge,
Un racist blanco, no entiendo,

Holding my hand inside his hand
Far longer than any gringo would.

He smells of sawdust and cologne.
I shoot a picture with my phone

Of my daughter underneath the “J.”
Evidence is always good to gather.

She traces the letter with her small finger.
She’s just learning about how letters

Make words, and words make sentences.
Doesn’t yet know sentences can kill:

Arbeit macht frei. Sentences can lie:
Make America Great Again. Sentences

Can heal: I have a dream. She’s fished
A pen from my bag and draws a “K” beside the “J.”

Advanced Placement students at Pittsburg High School in a high-poverty part of the San Francisco Bay Area offered several excellent poems. Natalie Calderon, a 17-year-old Latina student, wrote “Deception”:

America, the so-called land of the free
But is it still free if I take a knee?
Our president wants to “Make America Great Again”
But keeps putting roadblocks in the path of equality
I’m worried things will only get worse from here
I adjure to feel secure but how can I when
My so-called leader is acting so immature
My hope in humanity is fading
Because of all the degrading
My heart hurts as racism is pervading
I feel anger in my soul as it anchors my stomach
My spirit is damaged by the baggage of hate I carry
But I must stay strong for the struggles to come
I just hope my pride doesn’t go numb

Many entries attacked Trump, but not all. John Zengel of Asbury, N.J., says he’s a conservative who disagrees with Trump but thinks Democrats need to drop the condescension. He wrote this poem, “Perspective From a Hard-Working American,” to reflect the thinking of his father:

What the liberal elite don’t get
Is that Trump speaks my language.
If that makes me a racist, so be it.
I’m a hard-working American.

You say you love the poor,
But your sympathy goes to Africa,
And my taxes are given to takers.
What about hard-working Americans?

Your tree-huggers are after our jobs;
Your “values” are after our families;
Your diversity is after our God
Threatening hard-working Americans.

So go ahead, ignore us “deplorables”
And laugh at his scandals, his stupidity, his immorality, his hair.
But who will be laughing in ’20?
Us hard-working Americans.

Some of the verse was despairing, but Michael Collins of Salem, OR, wrote about making a difference in “No Matter How Small”:

I’m sorry for my tone, of late.
It’s tiring, decrying hate,
And likely tiresome as well
But ever since the hammer fell
And Trump ascended to the throne
I’ve told myself my voice alone
Won’t make a difference, but that I
Should not interpret that: Don’t try.
The Whos that only Horton hears
In Dr. Seuss’ book reached ears
Besides the elephant’s when they
Cried all together, so, O.K.,
I’ll keep on shouting, We are here!
A waste? Perhaps, but it’s sincere.

In a similar vein, Lee Robinson, a retired lawyer in Comfort, TX, ended her elegy on an uplifting note. Her poem, condensed here, is called “Who Says Trump and Poetry Are Incompatible?”

We know a poem can be maniacal, the best ones
Always unpredictable. Don’t poets sometimes rave?
Pound for example: profound, but mad as the Hatter,
And maybe a traitor. As for the tweets, if Dylan Thomas
Were still with us, might not he tweet his late-night sullen art?
Perhaps only poetry, after prose has failed us,
Is brave and big enough for this Trumpian time.
Think of Wordsworth, The world is too much with us,
Or Arnold: And we are here as on a darkling plain.
Dickinson would tell us to turn the TV off, the phone
And iPad too: The Soul selects her own Society.
Did Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwock foretell our president
Come whiffling through the tulgey wood, and burbling…

But if I had to choose one poem to give to him,
I’d give him [Maya] Angelou:

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

# # #

[Nicholas D. Kristof writes op-ed columns that appear twice each week in The New York Times. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, he previously was associate managing editor of The Times, responsible for the Sunday Times. Kristof received a BA (government, Phi Beta Kappa) from Harvard College and then received a BA (law) from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. In 1990 Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, also a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China's Tiananmen Square democracy movement. They were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer for journalism. Mr. Kristof won a second Pulitzer in 2006, for commentary for what the judges called "his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur and that gave voice to the voiceless in other parts of the world." Kristof's most recent book (with wife and co-author, Sheryl WuDunn) is A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity (2014).]

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Question O'The Day: Would Former President Herbert Hoover Have Hurled Rolls Of Paper Towels At The Starving Survivors Of The Great War (WWI)?

Considering the thesis of today's essay on presidential leadership styles, the words of St. Hofstadter (Richard Hostadter) concluding a Hoover-chapter in The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It (1948) echo in this blogger's memory:

...He [Hoover] tried to lead the nation out of the wilderness and back to the comforts and splendors of the old regime. He had given his warnings and they had been spurned. Perhaps, after all, it was the spirit of the people that was not fundamentally sound.

If this is (fair & balanced) historical assessment, so be it.

[x New Yorker]
Hating On Herbert Hoover
By Nicholas Lemann


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Last year, the economist Robert Gordon published a book titled The Rise and Fall of American Growth, which set out to debunk the notion that we live in a great age of innovation. The celebrated inventions of the past half century, like the personal computer and the Internet, Gordon argues, have increased productivity and transformed people’s lives far less than did the leading inventions of the half century between 1870 and 1920, like household electricity, indoor plumbing, and the automobile. “Most aspects of life in 1870 (except for the rich) were dark, dangerous, and involved backbreaking work,” he wrote in a paper that appeared a few years before the book. People’s homes were dark and poorly heated, and smoky from candles and oil lamps. “But the biggest inconvenience was the lack of running water,” Gordon noted. “Every drop of water for laundry, cooking, and indoor chamber pots had to be hauled in by the housewife, and wastewater hauled out.”

It was into the lower end of such circumstances that Herbert Hoover, the thirty-first President of the United States, was born, in 1874. Hoover was the son of devout Quakers who lived in the frontier village of West Branch, Iowa. His father, a blacksmith, died when Herbert was six, and his mother died three years later. At the age of eleven, he was sent, by train, along a just completed rail line, to a small settlement in Oregon, to live with an uncle, who treated him coldly and loaded him down with chores. Quiet, awkward, and a poor student, Hoover somehow managed, by his young adulthood, to have made himself into an exemplar of his generation’s America, a technologically advanced world power. By early middle age, he was a celebrated international hero. The times demanded industrial-scale achievements, not limited to industry itself; Hoover was a public-service superman, a mega-bureaucrat. In 1910, the Kansas journalist William Allen White—who became one of Hoover’s closest friends and his leading publicist—proclaimed the dawn of a new age: “Just as the same hundred men or so are the directors of all our big banks, of all our great railroads, and of many of our public service corporations—directing the centripetal forces of American society—so another group of a hundred men, more or less, is found directing many of the societies, associations, conventions, assemblies, and leagues behind the benevolent movements—the centrifugal forces of American society.” Within a few years, Hoover had placed himself at the head of that second group.

Among the cruelties of popular political history is that almost everyone below the level of President winds up being forgotten, and one-term Presidents are usually remembered as failures. Nobody demonstrates this better than Hoover. He was elected in 1928 with four hundred and forty-four electoral votes, carrying all but eight states—and it was the first time he had run for political office. Four years later, he got fifty-nine electoral votes and carried just six states. What intervened between his two Presidential runs was the 1929 stock-market crash and the early years of the Great Depression. Hoover was doomed to be remembered as the man who was too rigidly conservative to react adeptly to the Depression, as the hapless foil to the great Franklin Roosevelt, and as the politician who managed to turn a Republican country into a Democratic one. (The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives that began during Hoover’s Presidency lasted for all but four of the next sixty-two years.) Even now, if you were a politician running for office, you would invoke Hoover only to compare your opponent to him.

Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times (2017), by Kenneth Whyte, the former editor of the Canadian newsmagazine Maclean’s, helpfully lays out a long and copious résumé that doesn’t fit on this stamp of dismissal. An inaugural graduate of Stanford, where he studied mechanical engineering and geology, Hoover became a mining engineer at a time when that was as glamorous and potentially profitable a career as launching a tech startup would be for a Stanford graduate now. His first job was as a two-dollar-a-day “mucker” in a California mine, but not much more than a year later he was supervising large gold-mining operations in Western Australia for a prominent London firm, at a sizable salary. Before he turned thirty, he was married and a father, running a large gold mine in Tientsin, China, and highly prosperous. Hoover seems to have been an almost brutally tough, obsessively hardworking manager; certainly charm was not the secret to his success. “It simply comes to this: men hate me more after they work for me than before,” Whyte quotes Hoover writing to his brother during his Australia period. He soon broke with his employers and struck out on his own, mainly as a financier of mining projects, rather than as a manager of them, and did very well for himself. The Hoovers moved to London and lived in a large town house. In his memoirs, Hoover remarked, “Pre-war England was the most comfortable place in which to live in the whole world. That is, if one had the means to take part in its upper life. The servants were the best trained and the most loyal of any nationality.”

The years of Hoover’s rise, the first two decades of the twentieth century, were a heyday for those innovations which, in ways Robert Gordon has emphasized, made America modern. It was also the period in which a good deal of the familiar institutional architecture of the United States was created: big corporations and universities, the first government regulatory agencies, structured and licensed professions, charitable foundations, think tanks. The project had a glamour that’s hard to conjure today. Liberal intellectuals like Walter Lippmann and Herbert Croly saw the establishment of a class of trained, technocratic experts as essential to the future of democracy. In business, efficiency experts like Frederick Winslow Taylor and Frank Gilbreth systematized the operations of industrial mass production, down to the physical movements of workers on an assembly line. Psychologists like Lewis Terman invented tests that could be used to sort the population en masse. Hoover was a creature of the engineering division of this milieu. “It is a great profession,” he wrote in his memoirs. “There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standard of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high privilege.”

Biographers usually become well acquainted with their subjects not just as public figures but also as people who lead ordinary daily lives in the company of their co-workers, friends, and family. Unless the subject is a monster, all that intimacy typically turns the biographer into a personal partisan. This did not happen with Whyte and Hoover. Dour, phlegmatic, unreflective, and unrevealing, Hoover doesn’t come across as being much fun to spend time with, even if the time you’re spending is in his Presidential library, in Iowa. Biographers want psychological access, but Hoover, though the records he left behind are vast, has the quality of not being personally present in a life that, for a long while, produced one triumph after another. He was “largely a mystery to himself,” as Whyte puts it. At one point during his account of Hoover’s rise, we’re offered this character assessment: “He was determined to succeed by any means necessary, subordinating questions of right or wrong to the good of his career and driving himself crazy with his hunger for power and control, his hypersensitivity to perceived threats to his independence and stature, and his overarching need to measure up.”

It wasn’t that Hoover was a hypocrite, pretending to be something other than a man preoccupied with operational efficiency; it was that emotional life just wasn’t his métier. A letter he wrote to one of his sons explaining why he wouldn’t be home for Christmas says it all: “I feel the separation more than you will ever appreciate but I know that you will understand that it is entirely in the interest of other children.” He was self-involved in a way that extremely successful people often are, but that’s different from being selfish. All the evidence suggests that Hoover was genuinely devoted to what he construed as the public good, with the proviso that he wanted his devotion to be recognized.

What gave him renown enough to make him a plausible Presidential candidate was his self-appointment as the manager of an international effort to get food into Belgium after it had fallen to the Germans during the First World War. His aim, Whyte writes, was “to provide almost the entire food supply for a nation of 7.5 million people, indefinitely.” This required getting food mostly from the United States, collecting it in London, and then shipping it across the English Channel and into territory controlled by a country with which Britain was at war—all with not much more than a wisp of an official position. Whatever qualities had made Hoover successful as an operator of mines in remote areas also made him successful at delivering relief under emergency conditions. He borrowed money to buy food before he had succeeded in getting government assistance. He persuaded George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Hardy, and other leading authors to publish statements in support of his efforts. He negotiated with food brokers and shipping companies. At a time when the world adored people who had spectacular organizational skills, here was somebody using them not to build a factory or administer an empire but for purely humanitarian purposes. Hoover was a logistical saint.

In 1917, after many years in London, Hoover returned to the United States, won the friendship and admiration of President Woodrow Wilson, and was made the director of a new government agency called the United States Food Administration, which was charged with managing the national food supply now that the country was a participant in the war. Hoover “boldly asserted dominion over the entire food chain in America,” Whyte tells us. “He licensed all persons and businesses engaged in the production of food, from packers, canners, and bakers to distributors, wholesalers, and retailers.” This was another widely publicized triumph: the troops abroad and the folks back home were well and reliably fed. By 1920, Hoover was thinking about running for President, as a get-things-done type who wasn’t identifiably Democratic or Republican. He wound up not entering the race, but he eventually declared himself a Republican and was appointed Secretary of Commerce by President Warren Harding. Hoover turned that usually obscure position, which he held through most of the nineteen-twenties, into a platform for further increasing his fame, culminating in one more turn as the orchestrator of a vast relief effort, after the Mississippi River flood of 1927.

In those days, Hoover was, Whyte observes, on the liberal edge of the Republican Party. Whyte calls him “progressivism incarnate,” meaning progressive in the sense of that era: a believer in progress, planning, and an expanded federal government that used its power to accomplish technical missions. Hoover, who as Commerce Secretary made himself into the first federal official with power over new industries like aviation and broadcasting—Congress created the FCC partly to take control of the airwaves away from him—appears to have been among the first people to appear on long-distance broadcast television and to use radio as a way to reach a national audience during a crisis. He also loved taking on projects like standardizing the sizes of bricks and wood screws. In 1928, after Calvin Coolidge, perhaps feeling pressured by Hoover’s obvious Presidential ambitions, announced that he would not be running for a second term, Hoover devised a notably modern Presidential campaign, with a professional advertising expert and a pollster on staff. “We had summoned a great engineer to solve our problems for us; now we sat back comfortably and confidently to watch the problems being solved,” Anne O’Hare McCormick, reporting on Hoover’s Inauguration, wrote in the Times. “The modern technical mind was for the first time at the head of a government.”

Whyte, however unsympathetic he finds Hoover personally, is almost entirely on his side as a policymaker—not least when it comes to his handling of the economic crisis that began a few months into his Presidency. As early as 1923, Hoover was warning publicly that, sooner or later, the booming economy of the nineteen-twenties was going to go bust. He was particularly focussed on the New York banks’ dangerous practice of lending money to investors so that they could buy stocks “on margin,” which overheated the markets and generated white-knuckle risk for the borrowers and the banks alike. In the early months of his Presidency, he began selling his own stocks in anticipation of a crash. And when the crash came, on October 29, 1929, Hoover immediately grasped its importance and began exploring what to most of Washington seemed like the outer acceptable limit of an aggressive government response to an economic crisis. “It was just the sort of emergency the American people had with so much confidence elected him to meet,” Whyte writes.

Hoover launched infrastructure-building projects unprecedented in scale. Convinced that the heavy reparations payments imposed on Germany after the First World War were making the Depression more severe in Europe, he organized a politically risky moratorium on them. He created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to pump government-supplied capital into the economy, and he proposed some of the ideas that later became the heart of the New Deal’s response to the Depression, like agricultural loans, deposit insurance, a government home-mortgage agency, and the forced separation of commercial and investment banking. The atmosphere surrounding these activities was typically Hooverian: he confronted the Depression the way he had the humanitarian crises that brought him to the Presidency, with sheer hard work. Surrounded by a circle of loyal aides who had served him for decades and who were known collectively as the Firm, he apportioned his long days at the office (he was the first President to keep a telephone on his desk) into series of eight-minute appointments. Whyte reminds us that the press, specifically the Times, consistently praised Hoover’s efforts and took each temporary halt in the bad economic news as a sign that the Depression had ended. And, at least in the early innings of the 1932 campaign, it was by no means clear that Franklin Roosevelt had in mind an economic policy that was terribly different from Hoover’s.

Progressivism did not rest firmly within either of the political parties; it produced Presidents who were Republican, like Theodore Roosevelt, and Democratic, like Wilson. The coming of the New Deal turned most Republican Progressives into conservatives, though, and none more than Hoover. Like many politicians, Hoover preferred to think of himself as someone who had reluctantly answered a call to public service, rather than as someone who craved power, but he took losing very hard. He blamed his defeat substantially on the advent of a new kind of media smear machine that he believed was directed by the Democratic National Committee, whose products included a series of widely publicized books with titles like The Strange Career of Mr. Hoover Under Two Flags and Hoover’s Millions and How He Made Them. Two weeks before Roosevelt’s Inauguration, Hoover sent the President-elect a strained, handwritten letter proposing a joint effort to avert a looming banking crisis; Roosevelt chose not to answer for eleven days. In 1934, ignoring the advice of friends who thought it would come across as “the bitter musings of a defeated man,” Hoover published a best-selling book that he imagined to be a devastating critique of Roosevelt (though it never mentioned his name), called The Challenge to Liberty.

In 1936 and again in 1940, Hoover hoped that his party would turn to him again to set things right, and was surprised and hurt when it didn’t. As the rise of Adolf Hitler forced Roosevelt to become a foreign-policy President, Hoover began to disapprove of him diplomatically just as much as he did economically. He believed that, if left alone, Hitler, whom he had visited in 1938, would direct his ambitions eastward and wage a mutually destructive war with the Soviet Union, leaving Britain and Western Europe alone. He published another of his many books just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, urging the United States to stay out of the war, and he always considered Roosevelt’s decision to form an alliance with Joseph Stalin to be unconscionable.

Finally, not long after Roosevelt died, Hoover’s exile ended. Following a meeting with Harry Truman at the White House, he was made an honorary chair of a body called the President’s Famine Emergency Committee. He used this as an occasion to reprise his decades-past role as a one-man food-distribution tsar in postwar Europe. The following year, a newly Republican Congress put him in charge of a vast efficiency study of the federal government. The Hoover Commission, run with typically obsessive thoroughness by its septuagenarian namesake, produced nineteen separate reports and two hundred and seventy-three recommendations. A second Hoover Commission, appointed by Dwight Eisenhower, issued its three hundred and fourteen additional recommendations just a few weeks before Hoover’s eighty-first birthday.

It’s unlikely that any President elected in 1928, even Roosevelt, would have been returned to office in 1932. The magnitude of the economic disaster was just too great to be politically survivable. Whyte asserts, implausibly, that, “after three years of backbreaking work, Hoover had in fact stopped the depression in its tracks and by most relevant measures forced its retreat.” In fact, when Roosevelt took office the unemployment rate was at its all-time historical peak, twenty-five per cent, and the entire American banking system had stopped functioning. Even if Hoover had been able to devise a perfect plan for surmounting the disaster, his lack of political skills would have prevented him from enacting it. As stoutly as Whyte defends Hoover’s policies, he has to concede that his subject wasn’t much of a politician. Hoover set out to govern in the manner in which he had accomplished the spectacular feats that had brought him to the Presidency: as an administrator of genius. Being a novice at electoral politics, he was unused to campaigning, had a strong preference for giving jobs in his Administration to businessmen rather than to politicians, didn’t consider party-building part of the President’s job, and didn’t understand that the constitutional system demands that an effective President spend a great deal of time courting members of Congress. He tried to defeat the Depression by grinding it down from behind his desk. In 1932, he felt it was unseemly for a sitting President to campaign for reëlection, so, for the most part, he didn’t.

In order to secure the firm support of William Borah, a powerful Republican senator from Idaho (in those days, the Republican Party’s hold over the West was shaky, because its voters had a strong liberal-populist bent), Hoover promised during the 1928 campaign that he would, if elected, call a special session of Congress to consider legislation that would help farmers. He kept the promise, but the special session’s main attention turned from agriculture to trade policy. A fiesta of politicking by hundreds of narrow economic interests, which Hoover was either unwilling or unable to control, wound up producing the notoriously protectionist Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which certainly didn’t address, and may well have worsened, the economic crisis. Another example of Hoover’s poor political instincts was his handling of Prohibition, which was then in its final years. He had been raised in a strict teetotalling environment. In his memoir, he wrote, “There was only one Democrat in the village. He occasionally fell under the influence of liquor; therefore in the opinion of our village he represented all the forces of evil.” He, like many leading Republicans, had no real anti-alcohol passion but worried about offending the large dry constituency among the Party’s voters. He wound up saying nothing very clear about it, and so let Roosevelt, who was firmly wet, use Prohibition’s unpopularity to propel his campaign.

These were big mistakes, but Hoover’s fundamental error—or his fundamental stand on principle, depending on your point of view—was ideological as well as political. It concerned the size and the scope of the federal government. Hoover’s active confrontation of the Depression was limited to economic management; he staunchly resisted the idea that the government should help individuals through employment programs or direct payments. Roosevelt created the Works Projects Administration, Social Security, and other programs that conferred benefits directly on people in need. During Hoover’s term, federal revenue was about three per cent of the gross domestic product. Roosevelt had more than doubled that figure even before the Second World War began. By the time of his death, it was twenty per cent, where it would roughly hover for the next seven decades. Roosevelt increased the number of federal employees from about five hundred thousand to more than six million. Republicans may complain about big government, but Roosevelt’s enlargement set a baseline that we take for granted today, and that frees us to think about politics along other lines. Hoover believed that a small central government was the only possible distinctively American alternative to Socialism, Communism, and Fascism. Roosevelt demonstrated that the United States could respond to the Depression by making government much bigger without losing its identity as a capitalist democracy, and he couldn’t have done this if a voting majority hadn’t been persuaded that he was right. Hoover, though, considered Roosevelt’s tendency toward statism to be morally wrong. He certainly couldn’t have admired Roosevelt as a manager.

Even loyal aides to Roosevelt found him maddening. He used his charm as an aid to elusiveness. Everybody left a meeting with Roosevelt believing he had agreed to whatever the person had asked for. Nobody could figure out exactly what he thought. He encouraged rivalries and overlapping responsibilities. The man who was a trusted family member to Americans who listened to him on the radio was unknowable to the people in his immediate vicinity. Hoover, though by no means open, was always forthright, and he inspired intense loyalty among those who worked for him. But it turns out that managerial excellence doesn’t assure Presidential success in this country—though we’re still tempted by the thought that it might. If you asked people, in the abstract, whether they’d rather have a President who was a superbly charming professional politician or one who had come from nothing, built a successful business, and accomplished astonishing feats of altruism, they would probably choose the latter. We think that we don’t need politicians; we even think that we’d be better off without them. The truth is that in a democracy, especially during a national emergency, they’re the only people who can get things done. # # #

[Nicholas Lemann is Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism and Dean Emeritus of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. Lemann graduated from Harvard University (BA — magna cum laude — history) in 1976, but has never attended a school of journalism. He is the author — most recently — of The Promised Land : The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America (1991). See his other books here.]

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Today's Best Advice: Be Careful What You Wish For

The hoopla surrounding the latest ploy by Amazon to establish HQ2 (a second HQ) in a location determined by lottery as towns and cities across the land threw their virtual hats into the ring. The spectacle reminded this blogger of an equivalent mania in the post-Civil War US to gain a foothold in the national railway system by attempting to lure one or more railroads to include their location on the map of the Union Pacific, Santa Fe, or Burlington railways. Cornfields would become gateways to Pacific. When unchosen, the passed-over communities attempted to organizing their own railway: in Quanah, TX, the scheme took the form of a local railway that connected Quanah with a nearby gypsum-mining center (Acme, TX, now a ghost town). The project was modestly named the Quanah Acme & Pacific Railroad. It was known through most of its existence as the Quit Arguin' & Push (QA&P) because of frequent equipment breakdowns. Now, the great sweepstakes of the 21st century are in motion. To this blogger's horror, he lives in a hapless city that failed to address infrastructure needs for decades and now holds a place in the upper half of the 10 cities with the worst traffic situations in the US. Just what this city needs: 50,000 additional commuters in its already inadequate traffic system. The local motto can be, "Quit Arguin' & Sit In Bumper-to-Bumper Traffic for Hours." If this is a (fair & balanced) urban disaster awaiting the light of day, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
How Amazon Took Seattle’s Soul
by Egas (Timothy Egan)


TagCrowd cloud of the following piece of writing

created at TagCrowd.com

I live in the city that hit the Amazon jackpot, now the biggest company town in America. Long before the mad dash to land the second headquarters for the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon found us. Since then, we’ve been overwhelmed by a future we never had any say over.

With the passing of Thursday’s deadline for final bids, it’s been strange to watch nearly every city in the United States pimp itself out for the right to become HQ2 — and us. Tax breaks. Free land. Champagne in the drinking fountains. Anything!

In this pageant for prosperity, the desperation is understandable. Amazon’s offer to create 50,000 high-paying jobs and invest $5 billion in your town is a once-in-a-century, destiny-shaping event.

Amazon is not mining coal or cooking chemicals or offering minimum wage to hapless “associates.” The new jobs will pay $100,000 or more in salary and benefits. In Seattle, Amazon employees are the kind of young, educated, mass-transit-taking, innovative types that municipal planners dream of.

So, if you’re lucky enough to land HQ2 — congrats! But be careful, all you urban suitors longing for a hip, creative class. You think you can shape Amazon? Not a chance. It will shape you. Well before Amazon disrupted books, music, television, furniture — everything — it disrupted Seattle.

At first, it was quirky in the Seattle way: Jeff Bezos, an oversize mailbox and his little online start-up. His thing was books, remember? How quaint. How retro. Almost any book, delivered to your doorstep, cheap. But soon, publishers came to see Amazon as the evil empire, bringing chaos to an industry that hadn’t changed much since Herman Melville’s day.

The prosperity bomb, as it’s called around here, came when Amazon took over what had been a clutter of parking lots and car dealers near downtown, and decided to build a very urban campus. This neighborhood had been proposed as a grand central city park, our own Champs de Elysees, with land gifted by Paul Allen, a Microsoft co-founder. But voters rejected it. I still remember an architect friend telling me that cities should grow “organically,” not by design.

Cities used to be tied to geography: a river, a port, the lee side of a mountain range. Boeing grew up here, in part, because of its proximity to spruce timber used to make early airplanes. And then, water turned the industrial engines that helped to win World War II.

The new era dawned with Microsoft, after the local boy Bill Gates returned with a fledgling company. From then on, the mark of a successful city was one that could cluster well-educated people in a cool place. “The Smartest Americans Are Heading West” was the headline in the recent listing of the Bloomberg Brain Concentration Index. This pattern is likely to continue, as my colleagues at the "Upshot" calculated in picking Denver to win the Amazon sweepstakes.

At the bottom of the brain index was Muskegon, MI, a place I recently visited. I found the city lovely, with its lakeside setting, fine old houses and world-class museum. When I told a handful of Muskegonites about the problems in Seattle from the metastatic growth of Amazon, they were not sympathetic.

What comes with the title of being the fastest growing big city in the country, with having the nation’s hottest real estate market, is that the city no longer works for some people. For many others, the pace of change, not to mention the traffic, has been disorienting. The character of Seattle, a rain-loving communal shrug, has changed. Now we’re a city on amphetamines.

Amazon is secretive. And they haven’t been the best civic neighbor, late to the charity table. Yes, the company has poured $38 billion into the city’s economy. They have 40,000 employees here, who in turn attracted 50,000 other new jobs. They own or lease a fifth of all the class A office space.

But median home prices have doubled in five years, to $700,000. This is not a good thing in a place where teachers and cops used to be able to afford a house with a water view.

Our shiny new megalopolis has spawned the inevitable political backlash. If you think there’s nothing more annoying than a Marxist with a bullhorn extolling a failed 19th-century economic theory, put that person on your City Council. So Seattle’s council now includes a socialist, Kshama Sawant, who wants “the public” to take over Amazon ownership. Other council members have proposed a tax on jobs. Try that proposal in Detroit.

As a Seattle native, I miss the old city, the lack of pretense, and dinner parties that didn’t turn into discussions of real estate porn. But I’m happy that wages have risen faster here than anywhere else in the country. I like the fresh energy. To the next Amazon lottery winner I would say, enjoy the boom — but be careful what you wish for. # # #

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero (2016). See all other books by Eags here.]

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Today's Cartoon Says It All About The Oddest Couple In The Executive Branch

A regular (and young) reader of this blog deserves an H/T for sending the following e-mail that reported sighting a hand-painted sign on a street in Scottsdale, AZ (an illiberal suburb of Phoenix):

YOU CAN'T FIX


STUPID


BUT YOU CAN


VOTE IT IN

If this is a (fair & balanced) affirmation of the Mike Peters cartoon in this blog-post, so be it.

[x New Yorker]
The President Pence Delusion
By Jane Mayer


TagCrowd cloud of the following piece of writing

created at TagCrowd.com

On September 14th, the right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, who last year published a book titled In Trump We Trust (2016), expressed what a growing number of Americans, including conservatives, have been feeling since the 2016 election. The previous day, President Trump had dined with Democratic leaders at the White House, and had impetuously agreed to a major policy reversal, granting provisional residency to undocumented immigrants who came to America as children. Republican legislators were blindsided. Within hours, Trump disavowed the deal, then reaffirmed it. Coulter tweeted, “At this point, who DOESN'T want Trump impeached?” She soon added, “If we’re not getting a wall, I’d prefer President Pence.”

Trump’s swerve did the unthinkable—uniting Coulter and liberal commentators. After Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, Gail Collins, the Times columnist, praised Vice-President Mike Pence as someone who at least “seems less likely to get the planet blown up.” This summer, an opinion column by Dana Milbank, of the Washington Post, appeared under the headline “ 'PRESIDENT PENCE' IS SOUNDING BETTER AND BETTER.”

Pence, who has dutifully stood by the President, mustering a devotional gaze rarely seen since the days of Nancy Reagan, serves as a daily reminder that the Constitution offers an alternative to Trump. The worse the President looks, the more desirable his understudy seems. The more Trump is mired in scandal, the more likely Pence’s elevation to the Oval Office becomes, unless he ends up legally entangled as well.

Pence’s odds of becoming President are long but not prohibitive. Of his forty-seven predecessors, nine eventually assumed the Presidency, because of a death or a resignation. After Lyndon Johnson decided to join the ticket with John F. Kennedy, he calculated his odds of ascension to be approximately one in four, and is said to have told Clare Boothe Luce, “I’m a gambling man, darling, and this is the only chance I’ve got.”

If the job is a gamble for Pence, he himself is something of a gamble for the country. During the tumultuous 2016 Presidential campaign, relatively little attention was paid to how Pence was chosen, or to his political record. And, with all the infighting in the new Administration, few have focussed on Pence’s power within the White House. Newt Gingrich told me recently that the three people with the most policy influence in the Administration are Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Pence. Gingrich went on, “Others have some influence, such as Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn. But look at the schedule. Pence has lunches with the President. He’s in the national-security briefings.” Moreover, and crucially, Pence is the only official in the White House who can’t be fired.

Pence, who declined requests for an interview, is also one of the few with whom Trump hasn’t overtly feuded. “The President considers him one of his best decisions,” Tony Fabrizio, a pollster for Trump, told me. Even so, they are almost comically mismatched. “You end up with an odd pair of throwbacks from fifties casting,” the former White House strategist Stephen Bannon joked, comparing them to Dean Martin, the bad boy of the Rat Pack, and “the dad on ‘Leave It to Beaver.’ ”

Trump and Pence are misaligned politically, too. Trump campaigned as an unorthodox outsider, but Pence is a doctrinaire ideologue. Kellyanne Conway, the White House counsellor, who became a pollster for Pence in 2009, describes him as “a full-spectrum conservative” on social, moral, economic, and defense issues. Pence leans so far to the right that he has occasionally echoed ACLU arguments against government overreach; he has, for instance, supported a federal shield law that would protect journalists from having to identify whistle-blowers. According to Bannon, Pence is “the outreach guy, the connective tissue” between the Trump Administration and the most conservative wing of the Republican establishment. “Trump’s got the populist nationalists,” Bannon said. “But Pence is the base. Without Pence, you don’t win.”

Pence has taken care to appear extraordinarily loyal to Trump, so much so that Joel K. Goldstein, a historian and an expert on Vice-Presidents who teaches law at St. Louis University, refers to him as the “Sycophant-in-Chief.” But Pence has the political experience, the connections, the discipline, and the ideological mooring that Trump lacks. He also has a close relationship with the conservative billionaire donors who have captured the Republican Party’s agenda in recent years.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump characterized the Republican Party’s big spenders as “highly sophisticated killers” whose donations allowed them to control politicians. When he declared his candidacy, he claimed that, because of his real-estate fortune, he did not need support from “rich donors,” and he denounced super PACs, their depositories of unlimited campaign contributions, as “corrupt.” Pence’s political career, though, has been sponsored at almost every turn by the donors whom Trump has assailed. Pence is the inside man of the conservative money machine.

On Election Night, the dissonance between Trump’s populist supporters and Pence’s billionaire sponsors was quietly evident. When Trump gave his acceptance speech, in the ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, he vowed to serve “the forgotten men and women of our country,” and promised to “rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, and hospitals.” Upstairs, in a room reserved for Party élites, several of the richest and most conservative donors, all of whom support drastic reductions in government spending, were celebrating. Doug Deason, a Texas businessman and a political donor, recalled to me, “It was amazing. In the VIP reception area, there was an even more VIP room, and I counted at least eight or nine billionaires.”

Deason’s father, Darwin, founded a data-processing company, Affiliated Computer Services, and in 2010 he sold it to Xerox for $6.4 billion. ACS was notorious for outsourcing US office work to cheaper foreign-labor markets. Trump campaigned against outsourcing, but the Deasons became Trump backers nonetheless, donating a million dollars to his campaign. Doug Deason was enlisted, in part, by Pence, whom he had known and supported for years. “Mike and I are pretty good friends,” Deason said, adding, “He’s really the contact to the big donors.” Since the election, Deason has attended two dinners for wealthy backers at the Vice-Presidential residence.

Among the billionaires who gathered in the room at the Hilton, Deason recalled, were the financier Wilbur Ross, whom Trump later appointed his Secretary of Commerce; the corporate investor Carl Icahn, who became a top adviser to Trump but resigned eight months later, when allegations of financial impropriety were published by The New Yorker; Harold Hamm, the founder and chairman of Continental Resources, an Oklahoma-based oil-and-gas company that has made billions of dollars through fracking; and David Koch, the richest resident of New York City.

Koch’s presence was especially unexpected. He and his brother Charles are libertarians who object to most government spending, including investments in infrastructure. They co-own virtually all of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the United States, and have long tapped their combined fortune—currently ninety billion dollars—to finance candidates, think tanks, pressure groups, and political operatives who support an anti-tax and anti-regulatory agenda, which dovetails with their financial interests.

During the campaign, Trump said that Republican rivals who attended secretive donor summits sponsored by the Kochs were “puppets.” The Kochs, along with several hundred allied donors, had amassed nearly nine hundred million dollars to spend on the Presidential election, but declined to support Trump’s candidacy. At one point, Charles Koch described the choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton as one between “cancer or heart attack.”

Marc Short, the head of legislative affairs in the Trump White House, credits Pence for the Kochs’ rapprochement with Trump. “The Kochs were very excited about the Vice-Presidential pick,” Short told me. “There are areas where they differ from the Administration, but now there are many areas they’re partnering with us on.” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, who has accused the Kochs of buying undue influence, particularly on environmental policy—Koch Industries has a long history of pollution—is less enthusiastic about their alliance with Pence. “If Pence were to become President for any reason, the government would be run by the Koch brothers—period. He’s been their tool for years,” he said. Bannon is equally alarmed at the prospect of a Pence Presidency. He told me, “I’m concerned he’d be a President that the Kochs would own.”

This summer, I visited Pence’s home town of Columbus, Indiana. Harry McCawley, a retired editor at the Republic, the local newspaper, told me, “Mike Pence wanted to be President practically since he popped out of the womb.” Pence exudes a low-key humility, but, McCawley told me, “he’s very ambitious, even calculating, about the steps he’ll take toward that goal.”

McCawley, who died, of cancer, in September, knew the Pence family well, in part because the Vice-President’s mother, Nancy Pence Fritsch, wrote a chatty column for the newspaper for several years (“MEMORIES BLOSSOM WITH ARRIVAL OF SPRING”). Eighty-four and energetic, Fritsch met me for coffee this summer, along with her eldest son, Gregory, who is in the antiques business in the Columbus area. Like the Vice-President, they are good-looking, with chiselled features, and have an unpretentious, amiable manner. They ribbed each other as they reminisced about the years when the Pences’ six children lived with their parents in a series of modest houses. There was so little to do in the way of entertainment, Gregory Pence recalled, that “we sometimes got in the car with our parents on Friday nights and followed after the fire truck.” All the boys had nicknames. “My name was General Harassment,” Gregory said. “Michael’s was Bubbles, because he was chubby and funny.”

“Michael’s hilarious,” his mother agreed. “I attribute it to the Irish. We’re faith-filled, and have a good sense of humor.” The family identifies as Catholic, and Mike was an altar boy. “Religion is the most important thing in our lives,” she said. “But we don’t take it seriously. I don’t proselytize.”

Pence’s maternal grandfather was from Ireland, but his paternal grandfather, Edward Joseph Pence, Sr., came from a German family. Brief mentions of Edward in the press have described him as having worked in the Chicago stockyards, leaving the impression that he was poor. But Gregory told me that Edward was well off, with a seat on the Chicago Stock Exchange. “Grandfather Pence was a very hard man,” Gregory said. Edward refused to provide financial support when Gregory and Mike’s father, Edward, Jr., went to college; an aunt loaned him the tuition, but he had to leave law school when he ran out of money. “Grampa Pence was a gambler!” Fritsch chimed in. “He played cards and went to Las Vegas.”

Fritsch went to secretarial school. With a laugh, she recalled that she met her first husband “in a club—in other words, a tavern.” A Korean War veteran, Edward Pence, Jr., was in uniform that night. (He had won a Bronze Star, which the Vice-President keeps in his office.) In 1959, after leaving law school, he moved with Fritsch from Chicago to Columbus, where he sold fuel to gas stations, farms, and convenience stores. Shortly after their arrival, Michael Pence, the couple’s third child, was born.

Fritsch said of life in Indiana, “I hated it. I always looked forward to going back to Chicago.” But the family stayed, gradually moving into the upper middle class—Edward became part owner of an oil distributorship—and switching from the Democratic to the Republican Party. Fritsch had worshipped the Kennedys, but, she said, “I guess I became a Republican because my husband was one. I was a Stepford wife.”

“She was like the Scarecrow in ‘The Wizard of Oz [film],’ ” Gregory said at one point.

“You see what I have to put up with?” she shot back. Growing more serious, she explained that, until she went back to school, at sixty-five, to get a college degree in psychology, she “didn’t have much self-esteem.”

“That’s when she got her brain,” Gregory said.

Edward, Jr., like his father, was a tough disciplinarian. Gregory recalled, “If you lied to him, you’d be taken upstairs, have a conversation, and then he’d whack you with a belt.” He expected his children to stand up whenever an adult entered the room. “He’d grab you if you didn’t,” Gregory said. At dinner, the kids were forbidden to speak.

While Gregory was in college, he was sleeping late on a visit home when his father pulled the covers off him and told him to get up for church. “I said he couldn’t tell me what to do anymore, because he was only paying half my college tuition,” Gregory said. His father stopped paying his tuition altogether. “He was black and white,” Gregory said. “You were never confused where you stood. My brother’s a lot like him.”

Columbus, which has a population of forty-five thousand, was dominated by a major engine manufacturer, Cummins, and escaped the economic woes that afflicted many other parts of the region. But McCawley, the newspaper editor, told me that, while Pence was growing up, Columbus, “like many Indiana communities, still had vestiges of the Ku Klux Klan.” The group had ruled the state’s government in the twenties, and then gone underground. In Columbus, landlords refused to rent or sell homes to African-Americans until Cummins’s owners demanded that they do so. Gregory Pence insisted that the town “was not racist,” but contended that there had been anti-Catholic prejudice. Protestant kids had thrown stones at him, he recalled. “We were discriminated against,” Pence’s mother added.

The Pence children attended St. Columba Catholic School through eighth grade. Mike discovered a talent for public speaking that made him a favorite with the nuns. In fifth grade, he won a local oratory contest, defeating kids several years older. “When it came his turn, his voice just boomed out over the audience,” his mother told the newspaper. “He just blew everybody away.” In high school, Pence won third place in a national contest. When his mother recalled Mike as “a good student,” Gregory said, “Not a fabulous one. I don’t think he stood out. He was class president, but that wasn’t cool.” Nonetheless, by senior year, Mike was talking to classmates about becoming President of the United States.

Mike Pence attended Hanover College, a liberal-arts school in southeast Indiana. On a visit home, he told his father that he was thinking of either joining the priesthood or attending law school. His father suggested he start with law; he could always join the priesthood later. Shortly thereafter, to his family’s surprise, Pence became an evangelical Christian. His mother said that “college gave him a different viewpoint.” The story Pence tells is that he was in a fraternity, and when he admired another member’s gold cross he was told, “You have to wear it in your heart before you wear it around your neck.” Soon afterward, Pence has said, he attended a Christian music festival in Kentucky and “gave my life to Jesus.”

His conversion was part of a larger movement. In 1979, during Pence’s junior year in college, Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, to mobilize Christian voters as a political force. Pence voted for Jimmy Carter in 1980, but he soon joined the march of many Christians toward the Republican Party. The Moral Majority’s co-founder, Paul Weyrich, a Midwestern Catholic, established numerous institutions of the conservative movement, including the Heritage Foundation and the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of far-right congressional members, which Pence eventually led. Weyrich condemned homosexuality, feminism, abortion, and government-imposed racial integration, and he partnered with some controversial figures, including Laszlo Pasztor, a former member of a pro-Nazi party in Hungary. When Weyrich died, in 2008, Pence praised him as a “friend and mentor” and a “founding father of the modern conservative movement,” from whom he had “benefitted immeasurably.”

While in law school, at Indiana University, Pence met and married Karen Batten, a schoolteacher whom he had noticed playing guitar in a church service. A friend at the time, Dan LeClerc, told me, “He was head over heels.” Pence took her ice-skating; she made him taco salad for dinner. Soon, anticipating a proposal, she began carrying in her purse a gold cross with the inscription “Yes.” Eight months after they began dating, he asked her to marry him, having buried a ring box in a loaf of bread that he’d brought on a walk, ostensibly to feed ducks. They shellacked the loaf. Pence’s friends have called Karen his “prayer warrior.”

The couple became almost inseparable. One Christmas, she gave him an antique red phone, connected to a “hotline” whose number only she knew. As the Washington Post reported, he kept it on his office desk long after the advent of cell phones. At home, they worked out on twin treadmills. And, as Rolling Stone reported in January, he referred to her in front of guests as “Mother.” Pence’s office has disputed the account, but a former Indiana Democratic Party official told me, “I’ve heard him call her Mother myself.” Pence also began observing what’s known as the Billy Graham rule, meaning that he never dined alone with another woman, or attended an event in mixed company where alcohol was served unless his wife was present. Critics have argued that this approach reduces women to sexual temptresses and precludes men from working with women on an equal basis. A Trump campaign official said that he found the Pences’ dynamic “a little creepy.” But Kellyanne Conway defended him vigorously, telling me, “I’ve been a female top adviser of his for years, and never felt excluded or dismissed.” She went on, “Most wives would appreciate a loyal husband who puts them first. People are trying to bloody and muddy him, but talk about narrow-minded—to judge his marriage!”

In 1987, a year after Pence graduated from law school, LeClerc, his old friend, was asked by a mutual acquaintance, “Guess who’s running for Congress?” He drew a blank. Pence’s decision, at the age of twenty-nine, to challenge a popular incumbent Democratic congressman surprised many people, including his father, Edward, who thought that it was silly, given that Mike was a young newlywed with no steady job. But after Mike entered the race Edward became his biggest booster, helping him raise money and put up lawn signs. Then, just a few weeks before the Republican primary, Edward, who was fifty-eight, had a heart attack and died. Mike won the primary, but the Democratic incumbent, Phil Sharp, was reëlected.

In 1990, Pence tried and failed again to unseat Sharp, waging a campaign that is remembered as especially nasty. One ad featured an actor dressed in Middle Eastern garb and sunglasses, who accused Sharp, falsely, of being a tool of Arab oil interests. But Pence’s campaign foundered after the press revealed that he had used donations toward personal expenses, such as his mortgage and groceries. It wasn’t technically illegal, but it violated the trust of his supporters and sullied his pious image. “Mike burned a lot of bridges,” Gregory recalled. “He upset a lot of his backers. It was partly because of immaturity, but he really was kind of full of shit.”

The following year, Mike Pence wrote an essay, carried by local newspapers, titled “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner,” in which he said, “A campaign ought to demonstrate the basic human decency of the candidate.” He admitted to reporters that he had violated this standard, and said that he had no “interest in running for elected office in the foreseeable future,” but added that if he ever did he would not wage a negative campaign. “I think he realized he’d besmirched himself,” Sharp told me. “He comes across as Midwestern nice, but it was mean and shallow.” Sharp, who after two more terms joined the faculty at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and is now semi-retired, remains unimpressed by Pence. “This is not a person, in my limited exposure, about whom I’d ever say, ‘Wow, he should be President!’ ”

Pence took a job at a law firm in Indianapolis, where he handled mainly small-claims and family cases, and started each day by praying with colleagues. An Indiana attorney recalled, “He was a big, jocular, friendly guy who would put his arm around you at the local pub. He probably weighed a hundred pounds more than today.” There was a clear hierarchy in the Indianapolis legal world, and Pence was far from its top rungs, relying on referrals for work. “There were dozens of guys like that,” the lawyer said. “But the great American story is that a guy like Mike Pence is now Vice-President.”

Gregory said of his brother, “Law wasn’t really his thing,” adding, “He’s completely unmotivated by money. I don’t think he would think for one second about it, if it weren’t for Karen.”

“Service is his motivation,” Pence’s mother said.

“And, of course, popularity,” his brother added. “He had ambitions.”

Pence was thrown a lifeline in 1991, when he was offered a job as president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a tiny new think tank that promoted free-market policies. Pence joked that some people called the foundation “an old-folks home for unsuccessful candidates,” but it gave him a steady paycheck and valuable exposure to the burgeoning universe of business-funded conservative nonprofit groups. The foundation was part of the State Policy Network, a national web of organizations that had been launched at Ronald Reagan’s suggestion. It was designed to replicate at a more local level the Heritage Foundation’s successful promotion of conservative policies. One of the State Policy Network’s founders, Thomas Roe, a construction magnate with strong anti-union views, was said to have told a Heritage board member, “You capture the Soviet Union—I’m going to capture the states.”

In a 2008 speech, Pence described himself as “part of what we called the seed corn Heritage Foundation was spreading around the country in the state think-tank movement.” It isn’t fully clear whose money was behind the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, because think tanks, as nonprofits, don’t have to disclose their donors. But the early funders of the Heritage Foundation included some Fortune 500 companies, in fields such as oil, chemicals, and tobacco, that opposed health, safety, and environmental regulations.

Cecil Bohanon, one of two adjunct scholars at Pence’s think tank, had a history of financial ties to tobacco-company front groups, and in 2000 Pence echoed industry talking points in an essay that argued, “Smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, two out of every three smokers doesn’t die from a smoking-related illness.” A greater “scourge” than cigarettes, he argued, was “big government disguised as do-gooder, healthcare rhetoric.” Bohanon, who still writes for the think tank’s publication, also has ties to the Kochs. Last year, John Hardin, the head of university relations for the Charles Koch Foundation, told an Indiana newspaper that the Kochs had been funding Bohanon’s work as a professor of free-market economics at Ball State University “for years.”

Even as Pence argued for less government interference in business, he pushed for policies that intruded on people’s private lives. In the early nineties, he joined the board of the Indiana Family Institute, a far-right group that supported the criminalization of abortion and campaigned against equal rights for homosexuals. And, while Pence ran the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, it published an essay arguing that unmarried women should be denied access to birth control. “What these people are really after is contraceptives,” Vi Simpson, the former Democratic minority leader of the Indiana State Senate, told me. In 2012, after serving twenty-eight years in the legislature, she ran for lieutenant governor on a ticket with the gubernatorial candidate John R. Gregg, who lost the election to Pence. Simpson believes that Pence wants to reverse women’s economic and political advances. “He’s on a mission,” she said.

Pence’s true gift was not as a thinker but as a talker. In 1992, he became a host on conservative talk radio, which had been booming since the FCC, in 1987, repealed the Fairness Doctrine and stopped requiring broadcasters to provide all sides of controversial issues. At a time when bombastic, angry voices proliferated, Pence was different. Like Reagan, who had become his political hero, he could present even extreme positions in genial, nonthreatening terms. “I’m a conservative, but I’m not mad about it,” he liked to say. He welcomed guests of all political stripes, and called himself “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.”

“His radio career gave him great statewide name recognition,” Jeff Smulyan, the CEO of Emmis Communications, on whose radio stations Pence’s program aired, said. “He’s likable, and a great self-promoter.” Smulyan, a Democrat, added, “I’m not sure how he’d fare in a detailed policy debate, but Mike knows what Mike believes.” In 1994, Pence was on eighteen Emmis stations, five days a week. By then, he’d lost weight and had three children; he’d also amassed a Rolodex full of conservative connections and established a national network of wealthy funders. In 2000, when a Republican congressman in northern Indiana vacated his seat, Pence ran as the Party favorite, on a platform that included a promise to oppose “any effort to recognize homosexuals as a discrete and insular minority entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.” He won, by a twelve-point margin.

Once Pence got to Washington, Conway said, his background “in the think-tank-slash-media axis really equipped him to defend and explain an argument in a full-throated way.” Pence was in demand on the conservative speaking circuit, and frequently appeared on Sunday talk shows. “He was invited to Heritage, gun owners’ groups, property-rights groups, pro-life groups, and pro-Israel groups,” Conway recalled. “People started to see an authentic, affable conservative who was not in a bad mood about it.” Michael Leppert, a Democratic lobbyist in Indiana, saw Pence differently. “His politics were always way outside the mainstream,” Leppert said. “He just does it with a smile on his face instead of a snarl.”

Pence served twelve years in Congress, but never authored a single successful bill. His sights, according to Leppert, were always “on the national ticket.” He gained attention by challenging his own party’s leaders, both in Congress and in the George W. Bush Administration, from the right. He broke with the vast majority of his Republican peers by opposing Bush’s expansion of Medicaid coverage for prescription drugs, along with the No Child Left Behind initiative and the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the government’s emergency bailout of banks. Conway calls him “a rebel with a cause.” In 2004, the House’s most conservative members elected him to head their caucus, the Republican Study Committee. Pence joked that the group was so alien to the Party’s mainstream that running it was like leading a “Star Trek” convention. “He was as far right as you could go without falling off the earth,” Mike Lofgren, a former Republican congressional staff member, who has become a Trump critic, told me. “But he never really put a foot wrong politically. Beneath the Bible-thumping earnestness was a calculating and ambitious pol.”

In 2006, Pence boldly challenged the House Minority Leader at the time, John Boehner, a more centrist Republican from Ohio, for his post. Pence got wiped out, but in 2008 Boehner—perhaps trying to contain Pence’s ambition—asked him to serve as the Republican Conference chair, the Party’s third-highest-ranking post in the House. The chair presides over weekly meetings in which Republican House members discuss policy and legislative goals. Pence used the platform to set the Party’s message on a rightward course, raise money, and raise his profile.

After Barack Obama was elected President, Pence became an early voice of the Tea Party movement, which opposed taxes and government spending with an angry edge. Pence’s tone grew more militant, too. In 2011, he made the evening news by threatening to shut down the federal government unless it defunded Planned Parenthood. Some Hoosiers were unnerved to see footage of Pence standing amid rowdy protesters at a Tea Party rally and yelling, “Shut it down!” His radicalism, however, only boosted his national profile. Pence became best known for fiercely opposing abortion. He backed “personhood” legislation that would ban it under all circumstances, including rape and incest, unless a woman’s life was at stake. He sponsored an unsuccessful amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would have made it legal for government-funded hospitals to turn away a dying woman who needed an abortion. (Later, as governor of Indiana, he signed a bill barring women from aborting a physically abnormal fetus; the bill also required fetal burial or cremation, including after a miscarriage. A federal judge recently found the law unconstitutional.)

Pence’s close relationship with dozens of conservative groups, including Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ top political organization, was crucial to his rise. A key link to these groups was provided by Marc Short, the current White House official, who in 2008 became Pence’s chief of staff at the Republican Conference. Short had grown up in moneyed conservative circles in Virginia, where his father had helped finance the growth of the Republican Party, and he had run a group for conservative students, Young America’s Foundation, and spent several years as a Republican Senate aide before joining Pence’s staff. His wife, as it happened, worked for the Charles Koch Foundation, and he admired the brothers’ anti-government ideology. A former White House colleague described Short to me as “a pod person” who “really delivered Pence to the Kochs.”

In June, 2009, Short brokered Pence’s first invitation to address a Koch “seminar,” as the brothers call their secretive semi-annual fund-raising sessions for top conservative donors. The theme of the gathering, in Aspen, Colorado, was “Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity.” Pence’s speech was a hit. Short told me, “I’ve never seen someone who can take a complex subject and distill it in a heartbeat like he can.” He’d also never seen “anyone who is as dedicated a public servant, and lives their faith as Mike does.” Short, who is a devout Christian, said, “People often profess faith that’s not lived out, but with him it’s lived out each and every day. It guides him. It’s his core.”

The Kochs, who are not religious, may have been focussed more on pocketbook issues than on Pence’s faith. According to Scott Peterson, the executive director of the Checks & Balances Project, a watchdog group that monitors attempts to influence environmental policy, Pence was invited to the Koch seminar only after he did the brothers a major political favor. By the spring of 2009, Koch Industries, like other fossil-fuel companies, felt threatened by growing support in Congress for curbing carbon emissions, the primary cause of climate change. Americans for Prosperity devised a “No Climate Tax” pledge for candidates to sign, promising not to spend any government funds on limiting carbon pollution. At first, the campaign languished, attracting only fourteen signatures. The House, meanwhile, was moving toward passage of a “cap and trade” bill, which would charge companies for carbon pollution. If the bill were enacted, the costs could be catastrophic to Koch Industries, which releases some twenty-four million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year, and owns millions of acres of untapped oil reserves in Canada, plus coal-fired power plants and oil refineries.

Pence, who had called global warming “a myth” created by environmentalists in their “latest Chicken Little attempt to raise taxes,” took up the Kochs’ cause. He not only signed their pledge but urged others to do so as well. He gave speeches denouncing the cap-and-trade bill—which passed the House but got held up in the Senate—as a “declaration of war on the Midwest.” His language echoed that of the Koch groups. Americans for Prosperity called the bill “the largest excise tax in history,” and Pence called it “the largest tax increase in American history.” (Neither statement was true.) He used a map created by the Heritage Foundation, which the Kochs supported, to make his case, and he urged House Republicans to hold “energy summits” opposing the legislation in their districts, sending them home over the summer recess with kits to bolster their presentations.

According to the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, after Pence began promoting the Kochs’ pledge the number of signatories in the House soared, reaching a hundred and fifty-six. James Valvo, the policy director for Americans for Prosperity, who spearheaded the pledge, told the Reporting Workshop that support from Pence and other Republicans helped “a scrappy outlier” become “the established position.” The cap-and-trade bill died in the Senate.

Short said that he “didn’t recall the Kochs ever asking for help on the issue,” adding, “The Republican Conference believed it was a winning issue because of the impact that the bill would have had on jobs.” In any event, the pledge marked a pivotal turn in the climate-change debate, cementing Republican opposition to addressing the environmental crisis.

Peterson said that the Checks & Balances Project hadn’t detected “much money going from the Kochs to Pence before he promoted the ‘No Climate Tax’ pledge.” Afterward, “he was the Kochs’ guy, and they’ve been showering him with money ever since.” Peterson went on, “He could see a pathway to the Presidency with them behind him.”

Indeed, by 2011 Pence had reportedly become Charles Koch’s favorite potential candidate for President in 2012. Andrew Downs, a political scientist who directs the nonpartisan Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, in Fort Wayne, said, “People thought Pence was gearing up for a Presidential run.” Downs pointed out that when Pence was in Congress “he probably had a shot at becoming Speaker of the House.” Downs continued, “Instead, he spoke at a lot of engagements with a national focus, and visited places like Iowa and New Hampshire. Running for President isn’t an idea that just occurred to Mike Pence when he joined the ticket in 2016. It goes back a long way.”

But the House of Representatives is a tough platform from which to get elected President. And so, in 2012, after mulling over his national prospects, Pence ran instead for governor of Indiana. “The conventional wisdom is that he ran for governor so he could check that box, get some executive experience, and then run for President,” Downs said. Pence won the governor’s race, but with only forty-nine per cent of the vote. “He was scary to the center,” Bill Oesterle, a co-founder of Angie’s List, an Indiana company that collates user reviews of local contractors, said. Oesterle, a Republican, contributed a hundred and fifty thousand dollars to Pence’s campaign. David Koch contributed two hundred thousand dollars.

Pence’s commitment to the Kochs was now ironclad. Short, his former chief of staff, had become a top operative for the Kochs, earning upward of a million dollars a year as president of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the brothers’ Virginia-based membership group for big conservative donors. It served as a dark-money bank, enabling donors to stay anonymous while distributing funds to favored campaigns and political organizations. (During the past decade, the group has pooled an estimated billion and a half dollars in contributions.) The Kochs’ national political network, which had offices in nearly every state, became the most powerful and best-financed private political machine in the country. At least four other former Pence staffers followed Short’s lead and joined the Koch network, including Emily Seidel, who joined Freedom Partners, and Matt Lloyd, who became a Koch Industries spokesman. In 2014, a Republican strategist told Politico that “the whole Koch operation” had become “the shadow headquarters of Pence for President.”

Pence’s tenure as governor nearly destroyed his political career. He had promised Oesterle and other members of the state’s Republican business establishment that he would continue in the path of his predecessor, Mitch Daniels, a well-liked fiscal conservative who had called for a “truce” on divisive social issues. “Pence was very accommodating,” Oesterle said. But after he was elected he began taking controversial far-right stands that, critics believed, were geared more toward building his national profile than toward serving Indiana voters.

At first, Pence highlighted fiscal conservatism. In 2013, he proposed cutting the state income tax. An internal report by Americans for Prosperity described the proposal as an example of the Kochs’ “model states” program “in action.” Indiana Republicans, who had majorities in both legislative chambers, initially balked at the tax cut, deeming it irresponsible. But Americans for Prosperity acted as a force multiplier for Pence, much as it is now promising to do for Trump’s proposed federal tax cuts. The group mounted an expensive campaign that included fifty rallies, two six-figure television-ad blitzes, and phone-bank calls and door-to-door advocacy in fifty-three of Indiana’s ninety-two counties. Eventually, the legislature went along with what Pence often describes as “the largest income-tax cut in the state’s history,” even though Indiana already had one of the lowest income taxes in the country, and had cut it only once before. Trump has recently described Pence’s record as a template for the White House’s tax plan, saying, “Indiana is a tremendous example of the prosperity that is unleashed when we cut taxes.” But, in the view of Andrew Downs, the Indiana political scientist, “the tax cuts were fairly meaningless.” Residents earning fifty thousand dollars a year received a tax cut of about $3.50 per month. Pence claimed that the cut stimulated the economy, but John Zody, the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, told me, “Our per-capita income is thirty-eighth in the nation, and not climbing.” The state recently had to increase its gas tax by ten cents per gallon, to repair its crumbling infrastructure.

In a few surprising instances, Pence veered from conservative orthodoxy. In 2014, he broke with many other Republican governors and agreed to expand Medicaid in Indiana. He declared that his proposal was “the kind of health-care reform that puts working Hoosiers in the driver’s seat.” He was no fan of Obamacare: when it passed, he likened the blow to 9/11. Nevertheless, Pence negotiated with the Obama Administration and established waivers that made the expansion acceptable to him. Among other things, all Indiana residents were required to demonstrate “personal responsibility” by paying something toward the cost of their medical services. Critics argued that such measures were needlessly punitive toward poor residents. Americans for Prosperity, which objects to any form of government health care, gently reproached Pence for “meeting Washington’s demands.” But the Medicaid-expansion plan was, and remains, popular in the state.

After this apostasy, Pence tilted back toward the right. At the last minute, he killed an application for an eighty-million-dollar federal grant to start a statewide preschool program. Education officials in Pence’s own administration favored the grant, but conservative opponents of secular public education had complained. When reporters asked Pence about his decision, he said only that the federal government had attached “too many strings.” But, as Matthew Tully, a columnist at the Indianapolis Star, wrote, “he could not name one.” Eventually, after widespread criticism, Pence reapplied for the grant. Tully concluded that Pence had a “fatal flaw”—he was “too political and ideological” to be a good governor. “His focus was on the next step up, not the job at hand,” Tully wrote.

Political handicappers noticed that Pence was spending a lot of time taking trips to states with important Presidential primaries and mingling with big out-of-state donors. In the summer of 2014, Pence spoke at an Americans for Prosperity summit in Dallas. At the event, he stood by Short’s side and declared himself “grateful to have enjoyed” David Koch’s support. That fall, Pence reached out to Nick Ayers, a young, sharp-elbowed political consultant, to see if he would help him in a 2016 Presidential run. Nothing came of it, but Pence clearly had White House ambitions.

In the spring of 2015, Pence signed a bill called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which he presented as innocuous. “He said it protected religious freedom, and who’s against that?” Oesterle recalled. But then a photograph of the closed signing session surfaced. It showed Pence surrounded by monks and nuns, along with three of the most virulently anti-gay activists in the state. The image went viral. Indiana residents began examining the law more closely, and discovered that it essentially legalized discrimination against homosexuals by businesses in the state.

“The No. 1 challenge we face in Indiana is the ability to attract and retain talented people,” Oesterle said. “If the state is seen as bigoted to certain members of the community, it makes the job monumentally harder.” The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Oesterle said, “was not an issue of Pence’s creation”—it had “gurgled out” of the far-right fringe of the Indiana legislature. But, he added, “there was a lack of leadership.” In his view, Pence should have prevented it and other extreme bills from moving forward. “You can see it happening in Washington now,” Oesterle said. “He’s not that effective a leader, or administrator. Extremists grabbed the initiative.”

The outcry over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was enormous. Gay-rights groups condemned the bill and urged boycotts of the state. Pete Buttigieg, the young gay mayor of South Bend, who is a rising figure in the Democratic Party, told me that he tried to talk to Pence about the legislation, which he felt would cause major economic damage to Indiana. “But he got this look in his eye,” Buttigieg recalled. “He just inhabits a different reality. It’s very difficult for him to lay aside the social agenda. He’s a zealot.”

In an effort to quell criticism, Pence consented, against the advice of his staff, to be interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on his Sunday-morning show on ABC. Stephanopoulos asked him five times if it was now legal in Indiana for businesses to discriminate against homosexuals, and each time Pence was evasive. Pence also sidestepped when Stephanopoulos asked him if he personally supported discrimination against gays. “What killed him was his unwillingness to take a clear position,” Oesterle said. “You saw the conflict between his ideology and his ambition. If he’d just said, ‘Look, I think people should have the right to fire gay people,’ he would have been labelled a rigid ideologue, but he wouldn’t have been mocked.”

Smulyan, the broadcasting executive, began getting calls from acquaintances all over the country, asking what was wrong with Indiana. The hashtag #BoycottIndiana appeared on Twitter’s list of trending topics, and remained there for days. Alarmed business executives from many of the state’s most prominent companies, including Cummins, Eli Lilly, Salesforce, and Anthem, joined civic leaders in expressing disapproval. Companies began cancelling conventions, and threatening to reverse plans to expand in the state. The Indiana business community foresaw millions of dollars in losses. When the NCAA, which is based in Indianapolis, declared its opposition to the legislation, the pressure became intolerable. Even the Republican establishment turned on Pence. A headline in the Star, published the Tuesday after the Stephanopoulos interview, demanded, “FIX THIS NOW.”

Within days, the legislature had pushed through a less discriminatory version of the bill, and Pence signed it, before hastily leaving town for the weekend. But he clearly had not anticipated the outrage he’d triggered, and then he had tried to save his career at the expense of his professed principles. Steve Deace, an influential conservative radio host, told me that Pence’s reversal was “almost the worst conservative betrayal I’ve witnessed in my career.” He added, “He had no chance at national office after that, other than getting on the Trump ticket.” Similarly, Michael Maurer, the owner of the Indianapolis Business Journal, who is a Republican but not a hard-line social conservative, said, “It just exploded in his face. His polls were terrible. I bet he’d never get elected again in Indiana. But he went from being a likely loser as an incumbent governor to Vice-President of the United States. We’re still reeling!”

Pence loyalists rushed in to help. Matt Lloyd, Pence’s former congressional staffer, left his communications job with Koch Industries to work with him in Indiana. Ayers, the political operative whom Pence had consulted in 2011 about a Presidential run, became an outside adviser. The state also signed a seven-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollar contract with a public-relations firm, Porter Novelli, which proposed running ads featuring gay and lesbian couples posing in front of Indiana landmarks. But Pence’s mistake could not be airbrushed away. Lawn signs saying “Fire Pence!” began appearing across the state.

“His tenure in Indiana was characterized by a lot of missteps,” Buttigieg said. “He was always decent to me, but over all there was a sense that every few months something got bungled. He’s definitely not the mastermind behind the curtain that some people suspect.”

In 2015, Ed Clere, a Republican state legislator who chaired the House Committee on Public Health, became aware of a spike in the number of HIV cases in southern Indiana. The problem appeared to be caused by the sharing of needles among opioid abusers in Scott County, which sits across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky. In a place like Scott County, Clere said, “typically you’d have no cases, or maybe one a year.” Now they were getting up to twenty a week. The area was poor, and woefully unprepared for a health crisis. (Pence’s campaign against Planned Parenthood had contributed to the closure of five clinics in the region; none had performed abortions, but all had offered HIV testing.) That same year, the state health commissioner called Indiana’s HIV outbreak a public-health emergency.

Clere came of age during the AIDS crisis, and had read Randy Shilts’s best-selling account, And the Band Played On (1987). He tried to get the legislature to study the possibility of legalizing a syringe exchange, which he felt “was a matter of life and death,” and could “save lives quickly and inexpensively.”

But conservatives blocked the idea, and Pence threatened to veto any such legislation. “With Pence, you need to look at the framework, which is abstinence,” Clere said. “It’s the same as with giving teen-agers condoms. Conservatives think it promotes the behavior, even though it’s a scientifically proven harm-reduction strategy.” In March, 2015, Clere staged a huge public hearing, in which dozens of experts and sufferers testified about the crisis. Caught flat-footed, Pence scheduled his own event, where he announced that he would pray about the syringe-exchange issue. The next day, he said that he supported allowing an exchange program as an emergency measure, but only on a temporary basis and only in Scott County, with no state funding. Clere told me that he spent “every last dime of my political capital” to get the bill through. After Scott County implemented the syringe exchange, the number of new HIV cases fell. But Republican leaders later stripped Clere of his committee chairmanship, a highly unusual event. “I commend Representative Clere for the efforts to help the state deal with this,” Kevin Burke, the health officer in neighboring Clark County, told me. “But he paid a price for it.”

Clere remains bitter about Pence. “It was all part of his pattern of political expediency,” he said. “He was stridently against it until it became politically expedient to support it.” Clere, a Christian who opposes abortion, told me that he now finds Pence’s piety hypocritical. “He says he’s ‘pro-life,’ ” Clere said. “But people were dying.” When Clere was asked whom he would rather have as President—Trump or Pence—he replied, “I’d take Trump every day of the week, and twice on Sunday.”

Pence likes to say of himself, “I am a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” But Clere is not alone in questioning Pence’s political purity. After the November, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, Pence, like several other U.S. governors, issued a controversial executive order barring the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state. The Archdiocese of Indiana had long been deeply involved in resettling refugees, including Syrians, and was about to welcome a new Syrian family. In the hope of reversing Pence’s ban, Joseph Tobin, the bishop of Indianapolis, requested a meeting.

Tobin, who has since been elevated to cardinal and become the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, told me that he emphasized to Pence that the Syrian family was fleeing violence and terror, and had been vetted for nearly two years while living in a Jordanian refugee camp. He also explained that the family had relatives in the area. Tobin brought along a former refugee who now had a good job at an Indiana hotel, as an example of how successful the resettlement process was. Tobin is revered in the Catholic community of Indiana in which Pence grew up. “I really think he thought it over,” Tobin said. “There was some anguish.” But in the end Pence told him, “I need to protect the people of the state.”

“I respect that,” Tobin replied. “But this isn’t a threat.” Pence didn’t change his mind. Later that week, the Syrian family was sent to Connecticut. Eventually, federal courts struck down Pence’s executive order as discriminatory. I asked Cardinal Tobin if there was a Christian argument in support of turning the refugees away. After a pause, he quietly said, “No.”

Pence has also been criticized for his treatment of Keith Cooper, a former resident of Elkhart, Indiana, who spent nine years in prison for an armed robbery that he didn’t commit. He was released in 2006, but on the condition that he admit guilt, which made it impossible for him to get a decent job. The prosecutor and the Indiana Parole Board, citing DNA evidence and victim recantations, urged Governor Pence to pardon him immediately. But Pence dragged out the process for years. “He didn’t do a thing to help me,” Cooper told me. Pence finally left the decision to his successor, Governor Eric Holcomb, who is also a Republican. Holcomb granted Cooper a pardon within weeks of taking office. It was the first time in Indiana that a pardon was granted on the basis of innocence, rather than clemency.

“It was all about Pence’s political career,” Cooper said. “As a Christian, he’s a hypocrite. He wouldn’t see me or speak with me. God doesn’t turn his back on the truth, but Pence just walked away from the truth. I couldn’t move forward in life. I was stuck in a dead-end job.” Cooper, who was operating a forklift at the time, now cares for his grandchildren. He has become friendly with the robbery victims who mistakenly identified him in a police lineup; they supported his bid for a pardon. “I forgive them,” he said. “They stood up for me.” He went on, “I forgive the prosecutor. He wrote a letter. And the parole board? They saw that justice happened. But I don’t forgive Mike Pence, and never will. He talks all this God stuff, but he’s biased. He hates Muslims, he hates gay people, and he hates minorities. He didn’t want to be the first white man in Indiana to pardon an innocent black man.”

A spokesman for Pence, who declined to be quoted, said Pence believed that Cooper needed to go back to court and face a retrial, instead of seeking a pardon.

Pence, seeing his poll numbers plummet, gave up on running for President, and decided to seek a second term as governor. Victory was far from assured. Once again, he faced John Gregg, a folksy Democratic lawyer. In the spring of 2016, polls showed the two in a dead heat.

The national election, meanwhile, was confounding expectations. As Trump picked up momentum in the Republican primaries, the Koch network became unexpectedly paralyzed. Marc Short pressed the brothers to dedicate their resources to stopping Trump and promoting his rivals. But executives at Koch Industries considered the strategy risky, and the brothers stayed out of the Presidential race. Frustrated, Short quit his job at Freedom Partners and signed on to Marco Rubio’s campaign.

The Indiana primary was on May 3rd. The previous month, Ted Cruz had trounced Trump in Wisconsin, but if Trump could win decisively in Indiana he was virtually certain to secure the nomination. The brain trust behind Trump’s Indiana campaign included people whose public images were very different from Pence’s. Among them were Roderick Ratcliff, the CEO of Centaur Gaming, the state’s largest gaming-and-racetrack business, and Steve Hilbert, a flamboyant entrepreneur who had been a business partner of Trump’s. Hilbert had built an insurance empire, Conseco, which had been valued at fifty-two billion dollars before collapsing into bankruptcy. He is currently married to his sixth wife, and has denied reports that they met when she popped out of a cake, topless, at his stepson’s bachelor party. In 1998, Hilbert loaned Trump money to buy the General Motors Building, and they had remained friends. In 2013, when Hilbert needed cash, Trump bought Hilbert’s Caribbean estate, and Hilbert and Melania Trump made a deal to sell skin-care products.

Despite Pence’s straitlaced reputation, he had closer ties with these figures than most people knew. As governor, he proclaimed his opposition to any expansion of the gaming industry, but, though the state had banned political contributions from casino operators, cash had flowed generously to him from such sources, through indirect paths. The state’s gaming companies, including Centaur, routed donations to “soft money” groups like the Republican Governors Association, which then transferred the money to Pence and other candidates. Pence, meanwhile, used executive orders to quietly grant several of the gambling industry’s wishes, such as allowing riverboat casinos to expand onshore.

In 2016, the largest donor to Pence’s gubernatorial campaign was the Republican Governors Association, and some of its major donors were casino companies. An LLC connected to Centaur contributed two hundred thousand dollars to the R.G.A. that year. The casino operator Sheldon Adelson contributed a million dollars. But the single largest donor to the RGA in 2016 was Koch Industries, which contributed more than two million dollars. Nearly all this cash, and much more, was divided between just two gubernatorial races that year, one of which was Indiana’s. That spring, David Koch also invited Pence to be a featured guest at a fund-raiser at his Palm Beach mansion, attended by about seventy of the Republican Party’s biggest donors.

Trump handily won the Indiana primary. Pence, who had tepidly endorsed Ted Cruz, switched to Trump. Pence’s history with Trump, however, was strained. In 2011, Pence had gone to Trump Tower in Manhattan, seeking a campaign donation. Trump brought up some gossip—the wife of Mitch Daniels, the outgoing governor of Indiana, had reportedly left him for another man, then reunited with her husband. According to the Times, Trump announced that he’d never take back a wife who had been unfaithful. Pence reacted stiffly, and their conversation grew awkward. Trump gave Pence a small contribution, but the coarse New York billionaire and the prim Indiana evangelical appeared to be on different wavelengths.

Nevertheless, in 2016, political insiders in Indiana began hearing that Pence would welcome a spot on the Trump ticket. “There was no doubt he’d say yes,” Tony Samuel, the vice-chair of the Trump campaign in the state, who was a lobbyist for Centaur and other companies, told me. Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairman at that point, arranged for Trump to meet Pence, and urged Trump to pick him. Pence was seen as a bridge to Christian conservatives, an asset in the Midwest, and a connection to the powerful Koch network. Kellyanne Conway, who had done polling work for the Kochs, pushed for Pence, too, as did Stephen Bannon, although private e-mails recently obtained by BuzzFeed indicate that he considered the choice a Faustian bargain—“an unfortunate necessity.”

Still, Trump remained wary. According to a former campaign aide, he was disapproving when he learned how little money Pence had. In 2004, the oil firm that Pence’s father had partly owned had filed for bankruptcy. Mike Pence’s shares of the company’s stock, which he had valued at up to a quarter of a million dollars, became worthless. In 2016, according to a campaign-finance disclosure form, Pence had one bank account, which held less than fifteen thousand dollars.

But in July Pence found a way to please Trump when he played golf with him at Trump’s club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Recognizing that Trump was susceptible to flattery, he told the media that Trump “beat me like a drum.”

Yet, in a phone conversation that I had with Trump during this period, he told me that he was torn about the choice. He noted repeatedly that Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, had been “loyal” to him. When I asked Trump if he shared Pence’s deeply conservative social views, he became uncharacteristically silent.

Trump came closer to picking Christie than is generally known. On July 11th, Christie appeared at a campaign event with Trump. Afterward, the Trump campaign informed him that the choice was down to him or Pence, so he needed to “get ready.” The next day, Trump flew to Indiana to do a campaign event with Pence. A tire on Trump’s plane developed a flat, so he and his son Eric, who had accompanied him, decided to stay the night. They joined the Pences for dinner at an Indianapolis restaurant. The foursome emerged looking happy. (Samuel, who was at the restaurant, told me that Trump tipped the chef a couple hundred dollars.)

At dawn on July 13th, Ivanka and Don, Jr., flew to Indianapolis to join their father for breakfast with the Pences at the governor’s mansion. The Times soon reported that Trump had asked Pence if he would accept the job, and that Pence had responded, “In a heartbeat.”

But the next night, according to someone familiar with the details, Trump called Christie and said, “I’ve got a question for you. Are you ready?”

“Ready for what?” Christie responded.

“Ready to do this with me,” Trump said.

“Are you offering?” Christie said.

“I’m asking you—but you’ve got to make sure you’re ready,” Trump said.

“I’m as tough as they come,” Christie said.

“OK,” Trump said. “I’m making the decision tomorrow. Stay by your phone.”

But Christie was left hanging for the next three days. He suspected that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner had intervened and turned Trump against him, because years earlier, as a US Attorney, he had prosecuted Kushner’s father for tax fraud and other crimes. Conway told me that this theory was wrong, but acknowledged, “It truly was a tie—almost a jump ball.”

Hoping to break the tie, Christie’s detractors made the case that he was politically toxic because of the Bridgegate scandal, in which officials had caused traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge in an act of reprisal against the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Trump began leaning toward Pence. “I wouldn’t say Trump was pushed into it,” a top Trump campaign aide told me. “He was led into it. Pence was made the most palatable choice by those around him.”

Before Pence’s trip to Bedminster, he had asked his brother Gregory to meet him at a Burger King. “He said, ‘Donald Trump wants to talk to me,’ ” Gregory recalled. They both knew what it was about. “I told him, ‘You have to go, you have no choice,’ ” Gregory said. As he saw it, his brother also had no choice about saying yes, if picked: “When your party’s nominee asks you to be the running mate, you have to do it.” But it was a gamble. As Gregory put it to me, “If he lost, he had no money, and he had three kids in college. He took out student loans for the kids. He’s got a retirement account, but I was afraid he’d run out of money in just a couple of weeks. He’d have to get a job. He was rolling the dice.” Some politicians in Indiana were surprised that Trump wanted to pick Pence, who was flailing as governor, and that Pence wanted to run with Trump. “The one thing you could count on with Pence was interpersonal decency, which made it strange that he joined the Trump ticket, the most indecent ticket any party’s ever put together,” Pete Buttigieg said. “But, really, he had nowhere else to go. His chances of getting reëlected were fifty-fifty at best.”

By July 14th, Trump’s aides had leaked that he was about to pick Pence, who had flown to New York for the announcement. But that night, as CNN reported, Trump called his aides to see if he could back out of his decision. The next morning, Trump called Christie and said, “They’re telling me I have to pick him. It’s central casting. He looks like a Vice-President.” A few hours later, Trump announced Pence as his running mate.

Several days later, at the Republican National Convention, Newt Gingrich, who had also been passed over for the Vice-Presidency, found himself backstage next to Trump while Pence was giving his acceptance speech. “Isn’t he just perfect?” Trump asked Gingrich. “Straight from central casting.”

The awkwardness between Pence and Trump didn’t entirely dissipate. When the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced, revealing Trump’s boast about grabbing women “by the pussy,” Karen Pence was horrified. According to a former campaign aide, Pence refused to take Trump’s calls and sent him a letter saying that he and Karen, as Christians, were deeply offended by his actions and needed to make an “assessment” about whether to remain with the campaign. They urged Trump to pray. When Trump and Pence finally did talk, Pence told him that his wife still had “huge problems” with his behavior. But in public Pence was forgiving, saying, “I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.” (A Pence spokesman has denied that there was any friction over the incident.)

Pence exceeded expectations in the Vice-Presidential debate, and traversed the Midwest tirelessly. “He did an amazing job,” Bannon said. “Lots of conservative groups had questions about Trump. He answered those questions.” The Kochs were delighted that one of their favorite politicians had joined the ticket, although, because of Trump’s stance against wealthy donors, Pence and the Kochs agreed to cancel a speech that he had been scheduled to give at their donor summit that August. The Kochs continued to withhold financial support from Trump, but Short, the former Koch operative, became a top adviser to Pence on the campaign. Some billionaires in the Kochs’ donor network—such as the hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer, who has also financed Bannon’s ventures—began backing Trump.

The Koch network gained even further sway after Trump won the Presidency. Three days after the election, Trump pushed aside Christie, who had been overseeing his transition team, and put Pence in charge, with Short as a top deputy. Trump had promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington, but he had no experience governing, and few political contacts. He was also superstitious, and during his campaign he had deflected discussions about post-election staffing, fearing that it would bring bad luck. Christie’s team had been quietly gathering résumés and making plans for months, but Pence’s team threw out the research, dumping thirty binders of material into the trash. “Donald Trump ran against the establishment, but there was a vacuum,” a member of the earlier transition team said. “Movement conservatives jumped in. There was strong think-tank participation from Heritage and others who saw the opportunity.”

Trump began to appoint an extraordinary number of officials with ties to the Kochs and to Pence, especially in positions that affected Koch Industries financially, such as those dealing with regulatory, environmental, and fiscal policy. Short, who a few months earlier had tried to enlist the Kochs to stop Trump, joined the White House as its director of legislative affairs. Scott Pruitt, the militantly anti-regulatory attorney general of Oklahoma, who had been heavily supported by the Kochs, was appointed director of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, in turn, placed Patrick Traylor, a lawyer for Koch Industries and other fossil-fuel companies, in charge of the EPA’s enforcement of key anti-pollution laws. As the Times has reported, a document called “A Roadmap to Repeal,” written by Koch operatives, has guided the EPA’s reversal of Obama Administration clean-air and climate regulations. Don McGahn, who had done legal work for Freedom Partners, became White House counsel. Betsy DeVos, a billionaire heiress, who had been a major member of the Kochs’ donor network and a supporter of Pence, was named Secretary of Education. The new director of the CIA was Mike Pompeo, the congressman who represented Charles Koch’s district, in Wichita, Kansas; before Pompeo ran for office, the Kochs had invested in his aerospace business. Pompeo, the former transition-team member said, “wasn’t even on Trump’s radar, but he was brought in to meet him and got appointed, like, the next day.” A recent analysis by the Checks & Balances Project found that sixteen high-ranking officials in the Trump White House had ties to the Kochs. The pattern continued among lower-level political appointees, including in Pence’s office, which was stocked with Koch alumni. Pence reportedly consulted with Charles Koch before hiring his speechwriter, Stephen Ford, who previously worked at Freedom Partners.

Senator Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Democrat, believes that the Kochs “will stick one hundred of their own people into the government—and Trump will never notice.” As a result, he said, “the signs of a rapprochement are everywhere.” Whitehouse continued, “One by one, all the things that Trump campaigned on that annoyed the Koch brothers are being thrown overboard. And one by one the Koch brothers’ priorities are moving up the list.” Trump’s populist, nationalist agenda has largely been replaced by the agenda of the corporate right. Trump has made little effort at infrastructure reform, and he abandoned his support for a “border-adjustment tax” after the Koch network spent months campaigning against it, and after Pence and Short discussed it privately with Charles Koch at a meeting in Colorado Springs this summer. Bannon’s proposal to create a higher tax bracket for citizens earning upward of five million dollars was dropped. The Kochs enthusiastically support the White House’s proposed tax-cut package, which, according to most nonpartisan analyses, will disproportionately benefit the super-rich. (The proposed elimination of the estate tax alone would give the Koch brothers’ heirs a windfall of billions of dollars.)

Americans for Prosperity recently announced plans to spend four and a half million dollars on ads that will press three Democratic senators in red states to support the tax cuts. On September 25th, Trump dined at the White House with Tim Phillips, the head of Americans for Prosperity, along with Short and a handful of other conservative activists. After keeping a careful distance from one another during the campaign, Pence and the Kochs reunited openly for the first time on October 13th, when Pence attended a summit of Koch donors in New York. “They’re aligned on tax reform,” Bannon said. “The Kochs are a hundred per cent with you, so long as it means cutting taxes for the Kochs. Anything that will help the middle-class people? Forget it.”

Another consequence of Trump’s choice for Vice-President may be the widening federal investigation into possible connections between his campaign and the Russian government. Before Pence took over the transition team, Christie had warned Trump not to give a high-level job to the retired general Michael Flynn, whose financial ties to foreign interests triggered the investigation. Flynn, whom Obama had fired as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was not on any of the original transition team’s long lists for government appointments. Christie considered him too risky.

On November 11, 2016, Christie was chairing a transition meeting, when, according to four sources, Flynn walked in with an ally, General Keith Kellogg. “Gentlemen, can I help you?” Christie asked. Ivanka Trump, who was a member of the transition team’s executive council, announced that she had invited them. Christie tried to reclaim control of the meeting, but Ivanka took over. Praising Flynn’s “amazing loyalty to my father,” she turned to him and asked, “General, what job do you want?” A participant at the meeting said, “It was like Princess Ivanka had laid the sword on Flynn’s shoulders and said, ‘Rise and go forth.’ ” (A source close to Ivanka didn’t deny the account, but said that it exaggerated her role, and that she was merely trying to show appreciation for Flynn’s support.)

Flynn expressed interest in becoming Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense. Eric Trump, who was also on the team, asked Flynn if he had been out of uniform long enough to head the Pentagon. Flynn said that he could probably get a congressional waiver, but if not he’d settle for national-security adviser.

A few hours later, Christie was deposed. Kushner, he felt, had humiliated him a second time. Bannon, who was given the job of dismissing him, admitted to Christie that Kushner had been against him all along, for personal reasons. In any event, when Pence replaced Christie, the door of the White House was opened to Flynn. On November 17th, after little vetting, Flynn was named Trump’s national-security adviser, one of the most sensitive posts in the US government. There is no indication that Pence raised any objections about Flynn to Trump, even after Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent Pence a letter warning him about Flynn’s questionable ethics: Flynn had failed to disclose that, during the campaign, he had done paid lobbying work for Turkish interests. A member of the original transition team told me, “Pence left his backbone in Indiana, if he ever had one.”

When reporters later asked Pence why he hadn’t heeded Cummings’s letter, he said that he’d never seen it. But Cummings produced an e-mail from the transition staff acknowledging his letter and promising to review it carefully. “Either he read it and ignored our warnings or someone on his team did so,” Cummings told me. “Either way, the outcome was horrendous, because President Trump should never have given General Flynn access to our nation’s most sensitive and classified information.”

It undoubtedly would have cost Pence to take a political stand against the worst instincts of Trump and his family. But had Pence stopped Flynn’s appointment Trump might not have become the object of a sprawling special investigation. Phil Sharp, the former Indiana representative, said, “There’s a leadership test here. There are real issues, and a failure to do something he was legally, ethically, and politically responsible for.” Sharp added, “It also failed the basic Washington litmus test of self-preservation.”

Pence soon delivered a series of misleading statements about Flynn. On January 15th, as questions about Russian manipulation of the election were mounting, Pence went on CBS and assured the public that, during the transition, Flynn had not discussed the topic of sanctions with the Russian Ambassador. But then the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department had wiretaps of Flynn doing just that. The Justice Department had informed the White House counsel about this well before Pence made his statement. On February 13th, Trump fired Flynn, ostensibly for deceiving Pence, who looked like either a liar or a chump.

Three months later, Trump fired James Comey, the FBI director, who had opened the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties. Pence declared that Comey’s firing had nothing to do with Trump’s displeasure at the Russia investigation. Trump, he said, had merely followed the Justice Department’s recommendation. But Trump contradicted Pence within hours, telling NBC’s Lester Holt that his anger over the Russia probe led him to dismiss Comey. Further damaging Pence’s credibility, the Times revealed that, before Comey’s dismissal, Pence had attended a White House meeting where Trump discussed his intention to fire Comey and devised a plan to get the Justice Department to support the move.

Several law professors have argued that the Vice-President could be vulnerable to charges of obstructing justice, or “misprision of a felony,” for participating in a meeting about shutting down the federal investigation and then providing a false cover story to the public. Pence has hired an outside lawyer, Richard Cullen, and has further strengthened his political armor by hiring Nick Ayers as his chief of staff. Laurence Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, tweeted, “The VP appears to me to be in what we lawyers have been known to call deep doo-doo.”

Unlike most Vice-Presidents, Pence has been given no particular portfolio of issues or projects. He’s continued to serve as the key contact for conservative groups and campaign donors, and he has tried to help Trump contend with Congress. But Pence was publicly humiliated in July when John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona, stood on the floor of the Senate, where Pence had been pleading for his vote, and gave a thumbs-down, killing Trump’s health-care plan. White House officials had miscalculated, believing that McCain was on their side.

“What’s Pence doing?” Walter Mondale, who served as Vice-President to Jimmy Carter, asked me recently. “I ask myself that every day.” Before taking the job, Mondale got Carter to agree, in writing, that he could attend every meeting and see every memo that the President did. Mondale also requested that his office be moved from the Old Executive Office Building to the West Wing. Subsequent Vice-Presidents have inherited these upgrades, but Mondale felt that all Pence was doing was “trying not to make an enemy of the President.” Trump is known to humiliate subordinates, and Mondale noted that Trump often asks Pence to act as a master of ceremonies and introduce him at events, which Mondale finds demeaning. Dan Quayle, who was Vice-President in George H. W. Bush’s Administration, praised Pence, whom he has known for many years, for fulfilling the two major duties of a Vice-President: to be supportive and to be prepared. But when I asked Quayle if President Bush had ever asked him to leave the room—as Trump reportedly asked Pence to do, so that he could privately ask Comey to ease up on Flynn—he said, “Never.”

Mark Knoller, who has covered the White House for CBS since Gerald Ford’s Presidency, said of Pence, “He’s the most publicly deferential to his President of any VP I can remember.” At Trump’s first full Cabinet meeting, Pence said, “This is the greatest privilege of my life, to serve as Vice-President to a President who’s keeping his word to the American people.” Pence readily complied when Trump asked him to stage a protest at an NFL game in Indianapolis on October 8th, by leaving the stadium when some players refused to stand for the national anthem. (Pence’s trip reportedly cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.)

In private, however, Pence has become a back channel for government figures who are frustrated by the impulsiveness and inattention of a President who won’t read more than a page or two of bullet points. Erick Erickson, a conservative commentator who admires Pence, told me, “Everyone knows that Mike Pence can get the job done, and the President can’t, but no one can say it.” According to NBC, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently became so enraged by the President’s incompetence that he called him “a fucking moron” in front of others, and threatened to quit. In an effort to calm Tillerson, and prevent yet another high-level resignation, Pence reportedly “counselled” the Secretary of State on how to manage Trump, suggesting that he criticize him only privately.

“Trump thinks Pence is great,” Bannon told me. But, according to a longtime associate, Trump also likes to “let Pence know who’s boss.” A staff member from Trump’s campaign recalls him mocking Pence’s religiosity. He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence’s office, Trump would ask them, “Did Mike make you pray?” Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. “You see?” Trump asked Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.” When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”

There have been other evangelical Christians in the White House, including Carter and George W. Bush, but Pence’s fundamentalism exceeds theirs. In 2002, he declared that “educators around America must teach evolution not as fact but as theory,” alongside such theories as intelligent design, which argues that life on Earth is too complex to have emerged through random mutation. Pence has described intelligent design as the only “remotely rational explanation for the known universe.” At the White House, Pence has been hosting a Bible-study group for Cabinet officers, led by an evangelical pastor named Ralph Drollinger. In 2004, Drollinger, whose organization, Capitol Ministries, specializes in proselytizing to elected officials, stirred protests from female legislators in California, where he was then preaching, after he wrote, “Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.” Drollinger describes Catholicism as “a false religion,” calls homosexuality “a sin,” and believes that a wife must “submit” to her husband. Several Trump Cabinet officials have reportedly attended the Bible-study group, including DeVos, Pompeo, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In a recent interview with the Christian Broadcast Network, Drollinger said that Pence “has uncompromising Biblical tenacity” and “brings real value to the head of the nation.”

Many Americans have debated whether the country would be better off with Pence as President. From a purely partisan viewpoint, Harold [M.] Ickes, a longtime Democratic operative, argues that—putting aside the fear that Trump might start a nuclear war—“Democrats should hope Trump stays in office,” because he makes a better foil, and because Pence might work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda. Newt Gingrich predicts that Pence will probably get a chance to do so. “I think he’s the most likely Republican nominee in 2024,” he said. Ron Klain, who was chief of staff to the former Vice-President Joe Biden, is skeptical of this, given Trump’s accumulating baggage. “There is no success for Mike Pence unless Trump works—he cannot run far enough or fast enough to not get hit by the falling tree,” Klain said. “But he may think he can.” Evidently, the next chapter is on Pence’s mind. Over the fireplace in the Vice-President’s residence, he has hung a plaque with a passage from the Bible: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” # # #

[Jane Mayer has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1995. Mayer is a graduate of Yale University (BA, history), where she was a stringer for Time magazine. Mayer has also contributed to the New York Review of Books and American Prospect and co-authored or written four books—Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas (1994) (written with Jill Abramson), a study of the controversy-laden nomination and appointment of Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court, and Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984–1988 (1989) (written with Doyle McManus), an account of Ronald Reagan's second term in the White House. Mayer's third book is The Dark Side (2008) — addressing the origins, legal justifications, and possible war crimes liability of the use of interrogation techniques to break down detainees' resistance and the subsequent deaths of detainees under such interrogation as applied by the CIA — was a finalist for the National Book Awards. Her most recent book is Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016). Mayer is the granddaughter of the late historian and biographer Allan Nevins.]

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