The ‘Best If Used By’ Date Is Behind Us

Donald Trump will never be president.  And neither will Mike Pence.

It has certainly been an interesting week for all of us who are paying close attention to the details of this campaign season. While I was reasonably certain my first statement was true long ago, I am now almost equally certain the second one is as well.

On October 4, I had a busy night live blogging for NUVO during the vice presidential debate. With the aggressive approach taken by Sen. Tim Kaine, and the rapid shift from topic to topic by the moderator, it was difficult for a middle aged man like me to keep up.  Though there was one thing that was repeatedly noticeable about that event: Gov. Mike Pence was trying his best not to defend some of the indefensible things Donald Trump has said.

That does not diminish the fact that Pence inaccurately labeled factually correct statements about Trump made by Sen. Kaine as “nonsense.” It also doesn’t free Pence from responsibility for claiming things like “he never said that,” to other statements that Trump did say, verbatim, on camera.

So while many in our midwestern neighborhood wanted to give Gov. Pence some lukewarm kudos for not being a maniacal ass in the face of damning material, the fact remained that the ticket he is on was unfit to run America’s executive branch.  I use the word “was” only because the depth of the ticket’s unfitness was about to become even more obvious a few days later.

The GOP ticket is, was and now always will be, undeniably unfit to run our nation’s government.

Donald Trump’s recently revealed misogynistic rant appears to be the final nail in the coffin of a candidacy that should have been disposed of long ago.  And it is vitally important to point out that the reason this should be the end is not the shock of the content, but the way the content confirmed what so many of us already believed him to be.

He is a bad person. He doesn’t represent America or Americans. Not from either party.

Let’s accept that finally, and now calmly proceed to the task of cleaning up this electoral mess.

But wait, while the “best if used by date” on a Trump candidacy fades off in the distance behind us, what does America do with his partners in that refrigerator of spoiled goods? When I follow my wife’s orders and clean out my refrigerator, more things get tossed than are allowed to stay. Even the takeout from Buffalo Wild Wings that I wasn’t supposed to bring home in the first place ultimately ends up in the trash.

Which leads me back to Pence. He will not be able to hold his head high for thirty more days and carry Trump’s flag and then run again.  He also won’t be able to massage this mess with word games and condescension.

The rotten odor of Trump’s label is making Pence’s smell identically foul.

I sat on a panel on October 7 at a conference in southern Indiana and publicly gave Gov. Pence high marks for doing the absolute best possible job a VP candidate could do as part of such a terrible campaign and candidate at the top.  I went on to say that I don’t know what one gets for being the best at supporting a terrible thing.

An hour later, the latest Trump revelation was made public by the Washington Post.  As of the writing of this column, Pence has not responded to the latest crisis.

What should he say? What should he do?

I wish I knew what to tell him today.  I know what I would have told him when Trump called him this summer and offered him the job. I would have told him to turn it down.  The two politicos are just too different.

Trump is defined by his badness, selfishness, and narcissism.

But if Pence doesn’t act boldly, and fast, he will be defined primarily by his ambition.

Ambition has a way of making otherwise good people turn their backs on their closely held values, just to use familiar language.  That is clearly the case here.  And while I have been a consistent opponent of our governor’s philosophy and governance, I remain convinced that his personal values are fundamentally good.

That is what now is at stake for him.  And the question is: Gov. Pence, what do you believe?

If you believe in the principles you have touted since I first started following you, staying on this campaign just won’t do.

It is a campaign that is spoiled. It is rotten. Even coming from someone like me, with whom you would regularly disagree, I believe the entire thing is beneath you. And it is clearly below Indiana.