June 17, 2024


Today’s Events in Historical Perspective                                                                     
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Veeps beware
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift         
          WASHINGTON — The main credential for Donald Trump’s prospective running mate is a willingness to deny the results of the 2020 election — and should it become necessary, the results of the 2024 election as well. His one-time attorney and confidant, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, himself not a VP contender, but a full-fledged election denier, was just served on an indictment for attempting to fraudulently overturn the election in Arizona. So, a word of caution to election deniers: there is a line not to cross, even at Trump’s behest.
          So far, the candidates on Trump’s list of contenders are eager to please the boss. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott refused to answer the question six times whether he would accept the 2024 results, even when NBC News’s interviewer Kristen Welker noted that a peaceful transfer of power is a “hallmark of our democracy.”
          North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum evaded any direct answers when he was questioned on one of the Sunday shows. He refused to consider any other scenario than Trump winning and Vice President Harris certifying the election for Trump.
           “We will see if this is a legal and valid election,” Elise Stefanik told NBC News, refusing to commit herself now, as if a fairly decided democratic election was up for grabs.
          Stefanik is one of the few women Trump is considering. Another, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, may have disqualified herself because of the bad press she’s getting over her memoir in which she describes shooting her dog, Cricket, in the head because he was untrainable, and she hated him.
          She has also admitted that a meeting she describes in her book with North Korean President Kim Jong Un never happened, and her publisher was compelled to make changes to the book. Trump might like her views, but not her bad press.
          You would think that a 77-year-old man, soon to be 78, would want a vice president who could credibly step into the presidency at a moment’s notice. But that’s not Trump’s definition of the job. He wants to avoid another Mike Pence, a man who was slavishly loyal until it counted, and in Trump’s mind, which was on January 6, 2021, when he wanted Pence to de-certify the election.
          Pence refused to do what Trump wanted. For Trump, it was the ultimate act of disloyalty. For Pence, it was the right thing to do, to certify a fairly conducted democratic election.
          Trump has not gotten past the 2020 election. His rallies are exercises in grievance as he rehashes the past unfairness. Any contender who joins the Republican ticket must be fully onboard Trump’s dark vision of 2020 being stolen from him, and 2024 as his vehicle for retribution against all he believes wronged him.
          In an interview with CNN, President Biden was asked whether he thought Trump would abide by the 2024 election results if he didn’t win. “I promise you he won’t,” Biden said. “The guy is not a democrat with a small d.”
          The ramifications of election denial are chilling. Already we have in this country a substantial portion of the Republican electorate questioning whether Biden is a legitimate president. Should Trump lose in November, the potential for political violence grows exponentially with or without any specific call to arms by the loser.
          Democratic institutions with a small d are already under assault and vulnerable. What we know about Trump’s plans for a second term, should he get one, revolve around him further centralizing power in politically loyal people who would carry out his more radical plans, like deporting millions of immigrants.
          Loyalty to Trump is the only credential that matters, and it’s embarrassing to watch the parade of loyalists line up to kiss the ring. The lesson to take from Pence is that he did the right thing to certify the election and to separate himself from Trump when it really mattered.
          Do these other contenders know the difference between humoring Trump and doing the right thing when it really matters?
          Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2024 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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