Speech by Vice President Mike Pence, August 26, 2020. Ft. McHenry, Baltimore MD.
Republican National Convention, Third Night.
Last night Vice-President Pence spread the word about Trump, Biden, and recent events in a thirty-seven minute nomination acceptance speech.
After noting the historic setting Pence accepted the nomination and thanked his wife, children, and mother, all in attendance. In keeping with the main theme of the night Pence took care to single out the presence of heroes. No masks were evident and the audience was seated with insufficient distancing.
Pence rhapsodized about how Trump sees America and what he has learned watching him work. The president has, he said, kept his word to the American people. Crushed ISIS. Assassinated Soleimani. Created Space Force. Appointed conservative judges. Enabled the marketplace to create jobs. All true and worthy of mention.
Professional standards took a dive when the Vice President brought up the pandemic. He recycled the shaky claim that the president’s travel ban saved untold lives; it stopped some but not all travelers from China from entering the U.S. His recounting of the White House response was pocked with lies: “President Trump marshaled the full resources of the federal government from the outset.” Huh. “[n]o one who required a ventilator was ever denied a ventilator in the United States.” Pence boomed out a few statistics meant to connote a mighty, World War-II like mobilization, but the numbers lacked context regarding when the items were delivered. His happy ending predicted a vaccine by the end of the calendar year, which is possible. He extended his sympathies and talked about two responder heroes. Yet altogether, this was an evasive and dishonest description of the actions taken by the administration from the official tapped to head the coronavirus task force, a post he did not mention.
Soon Pence turned to the sad events in Kenosha WI:
President Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peacefully protest. But rioting and looting is not peaceful protest.
The second sentence is true. The preceding sentence skipped over the Administration’s forceful advance on peaceful protesters around Lafayette Square after the Floyd shooting. The vice president also omitted any condemnation of the vigilantes who evidently murdered individuals in Kenosha and Oakland CA. So this was an ideologically blinkered account.
A set of issue position contrasts between Trump and Biden passed respectable muster; corners were cut but the statements corresponded to what the two men have said and done.
Pence closed by quoting the national anthem. His last line: “we will make America great again, again.”
That was supposed to be clever, and perhaps to some ears it was. Throughout the address I found myself distracted by Pence’s odd cadencing, constant head bobbing, over-resonant tone and Clint Eastwood squint.
The main problem, however, rests with Pence’s distorted treatment of two big issues of the day. No amount of patriotic imagery and rhetoric can paper over that.