DATELINE SUNDAY, 5:01 p.m. An actual conversation here late Friday afternoon. Me: “All I want to do this weekend is drink, and watch documentaries.” She: “Does it all have to be documentaries?”
I’m 10 hours of docs in, and running very low on vodka, bourbon and beer.
I’ve always heard it’s bad to drink while writing, but that it’s all right to write while drinking. It’s more productive than doom-scrolling, which is what I’ve also been doing a lot of this weekend. I think I really started worrying when I started to hear and read otherwise sensible people saying the only way a violent American cultural explosion can possibly be defused is by an unequivocal concession by Trump that the election was legitimate.
Perhaps with some kind of legal gun to his head, Trump could be bribed into making one of those hostage teleprompter statements like the one he did after Charlottesville, saying in a robotic voice that he does not, indeed, believe the election turned on widespread voter fraud and calling on his supporters to stand down. But that would convince no one—would almost be a dog-whistle wink that would only egg his people on.
But I think I came up with something that might make a difference. Might.
Mike Pence must make the speech of his life, and he must make it in the next few days. Trading on his thus-far perfect public allegiance to Trump (his refusal last week to do the impossible for Trump notwithstanding), Pence must give a “confessions of a loyal VP” speech, and issue a call for sanity. In revelatory detail, Pence must do something along these lines and in this order:
Reveal he and his wife spent the entire weekend in prayer, asking the Almighty for guidance on whether to invoke the 25th amendment on Trump—and in fact, on larger questions than that.
Explain the philosophy that led him to go along with Trump at many untoward moments during his presidency, listing some of the most difficult examples. List what redeeming achievements of the Trump administration he is still proud to have contributed to.
Share the inside story of Trump’s strategy and thinking and private statements about the election, and his charges of voter fraud. Again, a specific account exposing firsthand experience of Trump’s purposeful misleading of his base, Trump’s genuine madness, or both—and Pence’s gathering horror at same.
Expressing his own regret and stupidity with the maximum Christian humility he can muster, describe the moment he realized he could no longer abide the lies, because he realized firsthand their consequences as he fled the Capitol last week, for his life.
Acknowledge to Trump supporters that he realizes the last-minute confession may lack credibility—but ask them to consider the speech on its own merits—and the greater sacrifice involved in making it.
And then he must call them to action other than tearing the Capitol up and their country down over Trump’s essential election lie—but the more responsible, constructive, peaceful action they know in their heart is right.
At that point, it wouldn’t much matter whether Pence invoked the 25th amendment or not. He would have done much more with his words. It would be the least he can do to avert serial violence like we saw Wednesday—and maybe, at this point, the most anyone can do.
Don’t bother listing the problems with the above idea, I already know: I’m drinking, not tripping.
A friend says it wouldn’t make a whit of difference because Trump’s hard-core crowd sees Pence as the enemy. I think such a speech could draw a bright cultural line that Trump’s less gun-horny followers won’t cross, marginalizing the camo crowd further.
I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.