Vice President Mike Pence has once again been relegated to clean up President Trump’s flaming pile of shit. Like any dogged sycophant, Pence channeled a transparent tool of deflection to defend his president: deny, deny, counter-accuse.
Speaking at a press conference in Colombia on Sunday, Pence addressed Trump’s initial refusal to name white nationalists as white nationalists when he responded to Saturday’s terrorist attack in Charlottesville, VA. Predictably, Pence chastised the media for “focusing on” Trump’s sudden inability to classify terrorism when he sees it (despite his speedy characterization of a terrorist attack in Sweden that never happened).
“I think the president yesterday spoke to a national moment, words the American people needed to hear — that we condemn acts of violence, acts of hatred,” Pence said. “We will not tolerate hatred and violence of groups like white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis. These extremist fringe groups have no place in the American debate.”
While Pence accurately characterized Unite the Right rally attendees, he followed up by attacking the media for scrutinizing Trump’s reluctance to describe his ardent supporters — the “alt-right” who orchestrated Saturday’s march — as white nationalists.
“Many in the media spent an awful lot of time focusing on what the president said and criticisms of what the president said instead of criticizing those who brought that hatred and violence to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia,” Pence said.
Apart from the obvious fact that Pence’s observation is wildly misguided, it also mirrors a familiar tactic that white nationalists consistently deploy — blame the mainstream media for misrepresenting facts. Of course, this is a tactic that the Trump team has used since he announced his candidacy, but it seems remarkably odious to be playing the blame game when a woman was murdered by an extremist emboldened by the administration.
But the icing on Pence’s flaming shit cake was his suggestion that white supremacists receive too much media attention. “The president called on our nation to look for ways to come together, to make sure that these extremist groups are pushed out of the public debate and not given the attention that they too often receive,” Pence said. So criticize those “who brought hatred and violence” to Charlottesville, but don’t give them too much attention?
Pence isn’t blind, he knows the White House is staffed by a Breitbart alumni squad and he knows quite well that the “alt-right” is indeed synonymous with white supremacy. However, like the president, Pence’s critique of the media placates to a bigoted base of voters who might not be full on murderous white extremists, but who are definitely pleased by the administration’s nationalistic tendencies.