Something very strange happened during the first meeting with Donald Trump, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Minority Leader Charles (Chuck) Schumer (D-NY). Vice President Mike Pence (R-IN) sat there immobile. It was hard to tell whether he had passed away on the spot when the grownups got testy or he was trying to teleport himself to another location — any other location. What is up with Pence?
Even though Trump sent his vice president out to negotiate his billion-dollar wall with the Democrats, a House Democratic leadership aide told The Atlantic:
‘I don’t know that he has any authority whatsoever. It’s perplexing.’
Photos seem to usually capture Pence glancing adoringly at Trump, and he has said the president reminds him of his father. Of course, POTUS demands agreement and loyalty, and Pence certainly gives him that.
One congressional Republican staffer told The Atlantic about a meeting with the president and Pence. The vice president did not say much. The one time he spoke, he motioned over another staffer and said:
‘The president would like a Diet Coke.’
POTUS sent Pence out as a sacrificial lamb, in essence, to handle the negotiations with the Democrats over funding the border wall. Trump demanded $5.6 billion, which was up from his original $5 billion, according to an Atlantic source:
‘Schumer said, “Didn’t you, Mr. President?” The president, with his arms folded, smirked and nodded.’
Some Atlantic sources said that Pence did not negotiate very well. He talked about mutual issues, like drones at the border. The sources said the vice president appeared to just try to keep a “smooth and congenial discussion.” The actual sticking point was the $5.7 billion ticket specifically for a useless wall. One Republican aide who was there said:
‘I wish he’d been a bit more forceful.’
Pence has signaled his readiness to abandon negotiations. The Atlantic talked to a senior aide of a Republican member who is familiar with Pence, and he said:
‘He’s investing in GOP solidarity, not deal making with Democrats.’
Pence told reporters that the border between Mexico and the U.S. is a:
‘…humanitarian and national-security crisis.’
Pence spent over a decade in the House and even held leadership positions. Yet, some of his fellow members called him “Mike Dense.”
When Pence tries to negotiate for Trump, one aide said:
‘It ends up being accurate maybe 50 percent of the time. (Whereas the president deals more in) spontaneity.’
House Republican policy vice chair Representative Mark Walker (R-NC) said:
‘The more specificity you have, the better you can negotiate. President Trump has a unique style of leadership. He’s never really answered to a board, which allows you to cut on a dime. So people who work for him have to remember flexibility comes with the job description.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.