Monday, 21 June 2010


Who are you, and what have you done with the real Mike Pence?

Portrait of a man who’s been TOLD what to say  Dept
Garrison Show, Friday, June 18:
Tom Rose [guest host]:  We’ve been talking today about what happened inside the conservative leadership yesterday that has a lot of “wing nuts” like myself wondering out loud as to how trustworthy– in terms of conservative credentials– you guys are going to be.  Can we be fully confident that, if we are lucky enough to win back the House, you guys are going to have the courage and principle to make the really tough decisions that have got to be made? Of course this is in reference to what happened to Congressman Barton yesterday, when he issued an apology to BP on behalf of the government for extorting money from it, and then was– apparently, according to press reports– uh threatened with having his chairmanship stripped for pointing out that there is no precedent for private deals between the executive branch of our government and private companies.

Congressman Mike Pence:  Well, Tom, let me, let me say that - um - that, uh, I think if you check the-uh the video of-uh Congressman Barton’s statement he, he said he was not speaking for the government; he was speaking for himself...

Rose:  Right.

Pence:  But look.  Uhm-a he’s entitled to his opinion, uh - but I just think Joe Barton was wrong um to apologize to BP. Uh-I really believe that...

Rose:  Fair enough.

Pence:  ...BP has uh- full responsibility uh for uh the breach of this uh-tes, uh well, they have full responsibility for uh the impact on the families, the communities, the environment, and the Gulf, and fortunately uh BP has voluntarily offered to waive protection that they would have under the law– uh this $75 million dollar cap– uh to uh establish a fund that will offset what will be– what will be, Tom, really some extraordinary costs uh to the region on an ongoing [pause] basis.  Um, and so, you know, I, I think uh his statement was regrettable yesterday; I was pleased that Congressman Barton uh withdrew his apology uh to BP and um, um you know I really am-uh, I am uh pleased that we’re establishing a fund, much as we did after September the 11th, that will be independently administered, that will provide resources for the communities, for the families, for the businesses in the region affected by this really unprecedented industrial disaster.

Rose:  Todd Meyer [program producer] now needs to be physically restrained.  Why were the comments “regrettable”?  I mean: Isn’t the only way our system has to handle matters like this– isn’t that the court system?  Isn’t that what the whole purpose of our system is, to prevent uh expansions of power and authority by an executive branch?  Uh, I mean that, isn’t that why we have a court system?

Pence:  Well, you have a court system, Tom, when there’s disagreement between the parties.  Fortunately, uh, for the families and the communities in the Gulf region, BP has never uh said anything other than they “accept full responsibility” for the financial impacts of this spill.  You, you don’t need to go to court when everybody’s willing to agree who’s liable and who’s on the hook.  And, fortunately, BP has never disputed that.  Umm, the recommendation that an escrow fund be established, the recommendation that that fund be administered uh in the same way that we administered the 9/11 victims’ fund I think was prudent, but uh uh, but again, you know, what I was, you know, what I was troubled by yesterday was the, you know, to see a member of the, of congress, especially a Republican member of congress, uh, y’know, apologizing [pause] to BP.  I just, I didn’t think that-uh was in order, given the [pause], given the-uh magnitude of their responsibility here, and-uh given the fact that this is a voluntary [pause] agreement uh-between BP uh-and the United States government, and the-uh and all of the families and states in the region.

Rose:  Do you trust, do you have confidence that President Obama can manage and disburse uh-uh 20 billion dollars impartially and fairly?

Pence:  Well, T-, you know Tom, I just keep going back: The structure here is, is being built...

Rose:  It’s Ken Feinberg!

Pence:  ...along the lines of the 9/11 uh families fund, which has, in the wake of that horrific tragedy, a tragedy that uh, uh-occurred, uh, when I was in my first term in congress, umm, uh it, it, it strikes me that, that, uh, that fund has been um, um, if you can use the word “success” in the aftermath of 9/11, I think that fund uh was a successful effort, uh too, uh mediate the impact of the loss of more than three thousand American lives, and I believe that same individual, Mr. Feinberg, who administered that fund is being-uh uh approached about administering this fund.

Uh, I-I understand the suspicion of families and businesses in the Gulf region about, um um um, about having to go to BP and, and, and-uh with their hat in hand and ask for a disbursement.  I think it makes an awful lot of sense, the way that we took the airlines uh as responsible parties, uh, and government out of the payout role, and we created an independent trust fund.  It makes a lot of sense to have the families in the Gulf, as the families of 9/11, uh be able to go to an independent arbiter who can evaluate the, uh, what their losses are and, to the extent possible, uh, be able to make them whole.  Uh, but-uh, it’s uh, again, this is a voluntary [pause] arrangement.

I, I do think it was a, uh, inappropriate for uh the Attorney General of the United States to be in on the meeting this week, given the fact that the Justice Department was-uh, is involved in a criminal investigation of BP, uh, but, uh, you know, when-uh, the establishment of this fund I think it’s proper.  It is proper that BP has consented uh to make this-uh these funds available, uh, and, uh, uh, y’know, at the end of the day, uh, you know what we ought to be focusing on, Tom, is working the problem.

The financial part of this thing, BP has never really disputed, umm, but, but-uh, you know, this is a mechanism for distributing those dollars.  What, what, what we ought to be doing is workin’ the problem in the Gulf, uh, and I, I still continue to believe [pause] that this administration has failed, and continues to fail, to provide the kind of energetic uh hands-on leadership, um, in working the problem and containing the spill that the American people expect and the law demands.
A couple of points here. Mike Pence is a former radio guy. He doesn’t stumble, stammer, “and-uh,” or “you know.” Usually. Yet he here he is, stumbling and stammering,[1] interspersed with standard political boilerplate phrases...
“...the families, the communities, the environment, and the Gulf...”
“...the communities, for the families, for the businesses in the region”
“...much as we did after September the 11th
“...agreement between BP and the United States government, and all of the families and states in the region.”
“this is a voluntary agreement”
“What we ought to be focusing on... is working the problem”
“...energetic hands-on leadership”
...rattled off as if read from cue cards, all the while being careful not to stray from his talking points.  Altogether a disconcerting performance; not what I was expecting from Indiana’s leading light of conservatism.

It appears that Congressman Joe Barton’s spade-a-spade characterization of the administration’s “voluntary” (as in, “I’ll shoot you, unless you voluntarily give me all your money”) agreement with BP as a “shakedown,” gave the Beltway RINOs such a case of the vapours (probably anticipating  the DSM’s customary balance and objectivity) that they threatened to take his chairmanship away.

And Pence, instead of keeping his mouth shut, agreed to trot out to justify the whole thing.  Unfortunately, his integrity got in the way of doing it convincingly.

The whole episode, of course, does nothing to build my confidence that the Republicans have either the integrity or the guts to do anything to reverse the progressives’ mess, even if they should be restored to power.

Amazingly, their spineless backpedalling may wind up puting the RINOs on the.wrong side.of this issueNot very smart.

But as Glenn said this morning, “Any sentence about the Republican leadership that begins with “if they’re smart” is probably self-finishing . . . .”

[1]  I included Pence’s stumbles in the transcript (which I wouldn’t have done in the case of a non-professional speaker) to show how uncertain he sounded.  You really need to listen to the segment to get the full effect.

Posted by: Old Grouch in Rants at 19:12:25 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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