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SHELLA: President Mike Pence. The president, Mike Pence?

June 10, 2017

Shella
It’s good to maintain perspective on the current chaos in Washington and so I look to a number of sources for input.

They include The Washington Post, The New York Times, the television networks, occasionally Fox News, and also comedian Albert Brooks. Here’s a tweet he put out in March:

“President Mike Pence. The president, Mike Pence. President Pence. President and Mrs. Michael Pence. I was just practicing.”

Brooks is a comedian, so it’s a joke, right? In fact, I borrowed it for use at this year’s Gridiron Dinner. Thanks, Albert. It got some laughs.

Yet it now appears, all joking aside, that a President Pence is a real possibility, what with the Russia investigations, talk of impeachment and all. And it could be that one Michael R. Pence is preparing for that possibility. More on that in a little bit.

First, let’s just contemplate how the fortunes of Mike Pence have changed in the last year. He went from a guy struggling to be re-elected as governor, to vice presidential nominee, to surprise winner on Nov. 8. I can tell you he was surprised, if you weren’t, because he previously committed to be at a reception for my retirement from WISH-TV Channel 8 on the 11th. He sent a Sagamore of the Wabash (I have found the opportunity to thank him personally) but no one was there to present it. He was otherwise occupied as the VP-elect and didn’t have a Plan B.

Meanwhile, we all know Pence had his sights on the White House for some time. When he publicly debated over a run for re-election to Congress versus a run for governor in 2012, he was careful to remind reporters that he was also weighing a possible run for the highest office in the land.

When he became governor, public appearances suddenly looked more and more presidential. The state seal adorned every rostrum he stood behind. News conferences and bill signings had themes with signage to match. House Minority Leader Scott Pelath told me that, when legislative leaders would meet in the governor’s office, it was like going to the White House. “There were eight people taking pictures,” he said.

(By comparison, Pelath said meetings with Mitch Daniels were like a trip to the principal’s office and meetings with Eric Holcomb are surprisingly normal.)

Now, back to what Pence is doing currently. He has started a political action committee and he recently established a plan to make political appearances around the country over the summer. They are moves that are within the realm of vice presidential duties but some pundits see Pence positioning himself for bigger things. Denials mean nothing at this point.

So, let’s speculate a little bit. A Pence presidency would be good for Indiana. Make no doubt about it. Every civic leader in this state would suddenly be on a first-name basis with the commander-in-chief. The president would have a clear understanding of every issue facing the state.

But how long would it last? Would a President Pence be forced to pardon his predecessor, as Gerald Ford did? Would that doom his career?

Would he display the sort of leadership failures that marked his term as governor? Would he be steered by ideology?

Or, would he rise to the occasion?

That would be good for America and it would also increase the value of my Sagamore.•

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Shella hosted WFYI’s Indiana Week in Review for 25 years and covered Indiana politics for WISH-TV for more than three decades. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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