Mike Pence stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Donald Trump’s race-baiting attack on Rep. John Lewis, but couched it in more diplomatic language. And by concern trolling African Americans.
In case you missed it, Trump had a vindictive Twitter temper tantrum after Lewis announced that he will not attend Trump’s inauguration and that he considers Trump an “illegitimate” president. Among other insults, Trump, a guy who started his career getting sued for racial discrimination, accused Lewis, who had his skull broken on a civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, of being “All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!”
For extra race-baiting points, Trump characterized Lewis’ district as “in horrible shape and falling apart” and lectured him to “focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S.”
All that on the weekend of the Martin Luther King holiday, no less.
Not surprisingly, Fox News host Chris Wallace never pointed out the rank hypocrisy nor the race-baiting of Trump’s attack during his nearly 15-minute interview with Pence today on Fox News Sunday. Instead, Wallace teed up an opportunity for Pence to go after Lewis by playing a clip of his comment and asking, “What’s your reaction to Congressman Lewis?”
Pence grabbed the opportunity to start scolding Lewis (transcript via FoxNews.com, with my emphases):
PENCE: Donald Trump won this election fair and square, thirty of 50 states, more counties than any Republican since Ronald Reagan, and the American people know that. And, while I have great respect for John Lewis, and for his contributions, particularly with the civil rights movement.
I was deeply disappointed to see someone of his stature question the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election as president and say he’s not attending the inauguration, and I hope he reconsiders both positions. You know, we’d even had recounts in this election where the numbers for the president-elect had actually gone up. There’s no question about the legitimacy of this election, and for John Lewis to make those statements is deeply disappointing.
This is also—it’s disappointing, too, because I truly do believe this is a time when the American people should be celebrating the peaceful transition of power. That’s what this week is really all about, Chris, and to know that four living presidents will be on the stage acknowledging that peaceful transition of power, the world will be watching, will hear the first remarks that Donald will make as president of the United States in his inaugural address.
I just—I hope that John Lewis, and some others who have joined his plans to take a pass on the inauguration, will rethink that, will be with us and will celebrate this extraordinary moment in the life of our nation and the life of democracy.
Wallace did challenge Pence about Trump’s “all talk, talk, talk, no action” smear. “Can he really say that about the man who got his head cracked open walking across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday?” Wallace asked. “Do you think that’s appropriate?”
In a word, yes, Pence did.
PENCE: I think—I think Donald Trump has the right to defend himself. When someone of John Lewis’ stature, someone who is not only an icon in the civil rights movement, but also someone who by virtue of his sacrifice on that day that we know as Bloody Sunday, he crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge and he suffered that abuse and it was—it was true that that the voting rights—for someone to use his stature to use terms like this is not a legitimate president, it’s just—it’s just deeply disappointing to me, and I hope he reconsiders it.
But what Donald Trump was talking about their was literally generations of failed policies coming out of Washington, D.C., that have failed to many families and too many cities across this country. I will tell you, Donald Trump is a man who is profoundly impatient with failure. And you saw in the campaign, he went to major cities in this country and said we are going to bring safety to our streets. We’re going to bring school choice to our children. We’re going to bring jobs and opportunities to our cities.
You remember that great line “what the heck do you have to lose?” He’s committed to being president of all the people in this country and to bring new jobs and prosperity in ways that the failed liberal policies of the last several generations have not.
Yeah, nothing says “I’m president of all the people” like insulting a big chunk of them.
Of course, Wallace didn’t note that, either.
Watch it below, from the January 15, 2017 Fox News Sunday.
Of course, Pence is disingenuous with the Right Wing talking points on the election. Let’s try that one again. Hillary Clinton received nearly 3 million more votes than Trump. Period. Pence cites 30 states and a large number of counties. He conveniently forgets that many of those states and counties were razor thin margins. Barack Obama won 26 states to Mitt Romney’s 24 in 2012. Six states switched to Trump, by very close margins – Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He basically gamed the system by depressing the Clinton turnout and convincing enough angry white male voters in those states that he was listening to them more than she was. Since enough Clinton voters did not turn out, Trump was able to escape those states. Even the GOP admits this was an election decided by 80K people out of a population of 300 million. So perhaps Pence and the GOP might want to be a bit more careful in their talking points. The next election is guaranteed to see a lot more Dem activity in those states, specifically to address Trump’s game-playing. And past that, the coming economic shocks many of these areas are about to face will undoubtedly swing those states back the other way. The smart way for Pence to govern at this time would be to admit this was a squeaker election and to acknowledge that much of the country does not agree with what Trump has announced Pence will do. What we’re seeing instead is a pretty nasty version of spiking the football.
And it’s nice that Pence recognizes that John Lewis is a person of far more action than Trump has ever known. Or Pence, for that matter. But his obvious condescension (normal for Pence) just tells us the new White House is almost completely deaf to the voices of much of America.
I suppose we get to choose here. We can endure the sneering condescension of a Mike Pence as he dismantles much of what we have understood American society and government to be. Or we can endure the outright vicious bullying we see regularly from Fox News, Right Wing media and of course from Pence’s Tweeter in Chief.