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Dear Mr. President: Who's That Looking Over Your Shoulder?

Dan Embree: I see that you’ve removed Mike Pence as an addressee on the “Contact the White House” website. This makes sense because he doesn’t actually live there – though in fairness to him, he’s pretty clearly planning on it.

19 March 2017

President Mike Pence

Dear Mr President,

Here in rural Gatos Gordos County, New Mexico, the budget news is being well received. Huff Swaggar, the biggest landowner (305 sections – in terms you can relate to, almost exactly the size of New York City, and a house bigger than Mar-a-Lago) told his fellow Republican Committee members that he plans to use some of his share of the $4 million tax reduction he’ll get from the repeal of Obamacare to bolster the local economy – by sinking a couple of natural-gas test wells and building a pig farm outside the village of Brisas Dulces.

The drillers he expects to bring in from Texas can live in the houses soon to be vacated by the staff of the closed-down Water-Quality Testing Station of the EPA and the trailers he rented to the Meals-on-Wheels lady and the old Cervantes sisters who worked in the After-School-Lunch program. They’ll be moving on.

Huff’s workers admiringly call him El Explotador de los Trabajadores. That apparently means “The Job Creator”.

Huff is also counting on some savings in the wages he pays his ranch-hands, partly because there will likely be no increase in the minimum wage, but especially because the work requirement for people on Medicaid will force the local lay-abouts with imaginary disabilities off their couches and back onto the horses they fell off in the first place. Their wives who were idling away their days listening to Public Radio fill their heads with liberal chatter about equal this and equal that can get back to teaching the alphabet to their kids the way my mother did instead of expecting Sesame Street to do it for them.

The hospital in Sal Si Puede, the county seat, will lose its nurse training program run by the National Institute of Health, but that loss will be offset by the expected decline in patients formerly counting on handouts from Obamacare, who will now exercise their choice to opt out of healthcare altogether in favor of food, heat, shoes, and an iPhone8 – a dumb choice, but what can you do?

There are whiners, of course, who complain that they are too old to join the Army – they should have thought of that while they had the chance. And some cannot see that we must sacrifice to get The Wall built, now that Mexico has reneged. Why, just last year, a woman from Guatemala was found working illegally as a motel maid to support her two kids who were so-called citizens.

All in all, it’s working. It’s just a trickle so far, but it’s flowing down hill.

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18 March 2017

Dear Mr President,

I see that you’ve removed Mike Pence as an addressee on the “Contact the White House” website. This makes sense because he doesn’t actually live there – though in fairness to him, he’s pretty clearly planning on it. And he must get there early and stay late because it’s hard to find a photo of you that doesn’t have him in the background. He’s replaced Mike Flynn as your shadow – always just behind to your left, smiling a complacent smile, as if contemplating a pork roast he knows he’ll get to carve if only he is patient. And he is patient.

Pence is patient because he’s a believer. He believes is all those positions – anti-gay, pro-life, anti-thug, pro-cop, strong military, pro-wall, pro-farm-subsidy, anti-welfare, pro-coal, anti-regulation, anti-immigrant, pro-business, anti-labor, free-market, America first, school-choice, global-warming-as-a-theory, health care for those who can afford it, parental consent (for everything), religious-toleration-up-to-a-point, anti-taco-truck (as in What’s a taco?), and strictly missionary – positions that you occasionally espouse but later disregard in a way that we call “pragmatic” or “flexible”. We Maganistas count on you to take crazy positions at rallies, but most of us won’t stick around if you try to enact them. You understand this; Pence doesn’t.

Not only does Pence actually believe all that stuff, but he knows how things work – what the difference is between fiscal policy and monetary policy, between a check and a balance, between an executive order and a federal statute, between Arizona and New Mexico. That makes him scary – and not just to you.

So I think you are wise to limit his contact with people who vote. Keep him busy going to funerals, meetings, fact-finding missions – interviewing street-people in LA, visiting the troops in Mosul, making speeches at Berkeley and Harvard, sampling the water in Flint. When you look over your left shoulder, he should not be there, smiling silently.

On the front page of yesterday’s New York Times, that’s where he was, coming down the steps of the Capitol right behind you and Paul Ryan and a few other officials after a Friends of Ireland lunch, everybody but you in green ties (oops!), and Pence smiling like he was waiting for something to happen.


I tell you what – Dwight Eisenhower never let Richard Nixon get behind him coming down the stairs.

Dan Embree

Please circulate. And write him a letter.

Earlier letters to President Trump