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pence White House transition

Mike Pence and Joe Biden (Getty Images)

The period between an incumbent's defeat and the new president's inauguration is always awkward. At the end of this lame duckship the outgoing president traditionally welcomes the new first family to the White House for a social visit and then accompanies the new president to the inauguration ceremony. This can hardly be enjoyable for anyone who just lost an election, and for Donald Trump it might be intolerable.

To avoid all this unpleasantness, President Trump should retire immediately and let Mike Pence concede the election, occupy the White House, and handle the transition.

COVID-19 remains a terrible problem. Pence has generally been credited with doing a decent job — within limits imposed by Trump — of chairing efforts to cope with this problem.

He could continue doing so as president. He and his wife Karen could host the Bidens cordially on inauguration day and participate gracefully when Joe Biden is sworn in.

Perhaps Pence overdid it praising Donald Trump, but we can't evaluate him with any certainty until we see him in action as his own man.

A few months in, the White House could give Pence a head start on securing the Republican nomination in 2024. Giving him this opportunity would be a gracious reward for his undivided loyalty to Trump during the last three and a half years.

As a former member of Congress, Pence has frequently negotiated with members of both parties. He probably found himself grinding his teeth, given Trump's frequent changes of mind about legislation. But he would be in a good position to work effectively with congressional Republicans and Democrats during the transition period.

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Pence's political enemies might claim that he is damaged goods because of his close association with Trump. Trump's personal life was certainly not what Pence — as a born-again Christian — could have admired.

As Benjamin Franklin supposedly said, "If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas." But this argument assumes the worst about Pence's motives for agreeing to run with Trump in 2016.

Pence as an undergraduate supposedly told fellow students at Hanover College that God intended to make him president. So he may simply have let his political ambition override all questions of propriety or prudence. But it is also possible that he felt that his advice, based on long political experience, might help Trump avoid doing something dangerous.

Whether you see Pence as an unscrupulous opportunist or as a sincere idealist doing an unpleasant but necessary job, there can be no doubt that he is well-prepared to fill in as president.

Pence's ability to work with both parties could pave the way for the bipartisanship promised by President Elect Joe Biden. Biden, probably facing a Republican-controlled Senate, will need to work closely with leaders of both parties, and Pence could get this process going during his occupancy of the White House. If he is successful at this, Biden might find it useful to find a place for Pence as well as other Republicans in his own administration.

Of course Pence has his critics. Conservative columnist George Will once described him as "America's most repulsive figure." Michael D'Antonio and Peter Eisner noted that "The vice president reached the nadir of his toady ways ... when he spent three minutes extolling Trump at a Cabinet meeting and managed to work in one note of praise every 12 seconds."

But as D'Antonio and Eisner concluded, he "believes God has a plan for him, and if that plan requires him to abandon his principles as well as his dignity, so be it."


Perhaps Pence overdid it praising Donald Trump, but we can't evaluate him with any certainty until we see him in action as his own man. For the good of the country, his own state of mind, the Republican Party, and a smooth administrative transition, Trump should give Pence this chance.

Paul F. deLespinasse