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For a guy who's been kicking around in politics for 20 years, Mike Pence is impressively bad at it. This weekend he traveled to Michigan's famous Mackinac Island to rouse the faithful at the Republican Leadership Conference. And he did it in an eight-car motorcade, an unequivocal fuck you to the island's century-old ban on motorized vehicles. The internet was not impressed. Political journalist James Fallows likened it to "rolling a Port-a-John into a church, and using it"; Michigan native and former AP chief Ron Fournier called it "sacrilege"; and even GOP stalwart Greta Van Susteren recoiled in horror.


Pence couldn't even manage to pare his entourage down to two or three armored vehicles, in a token show of deference to local ordinances. Nope, it had to be the full motorcade, ensuring two days of national coverage of what an arrogant dick he is. Truly, the Vice President possesses an unerring political instinct, second only to President Bestwords. This is, after all, the genius who looked at a brewing congressional inquiry into service members being housed at Trump's hotel in Scotland and decided to juice the story by traveling clear across Ireland from Dublin -- TWICE -- to stay at Trump's golf hotel in Doonbeg, incurring an extra $600,000 in ground transportation expenses along the way.

Which is all hilarious as far as it goes, but digging a little deeper, we came across a very strange item in a Politico story on Trump's dimming prospects in Michigan. In 2016, Trump beat Clinton by fewer than 11,000 votes, after Democratic turnout cratered. As Politico points out, Obama carried populous Wayne County by 382,000 votes in 2012, while Clinton netted only 289,000 votes, far outweighing Trump's margin of victory statewide. But in 2018, Michigan Democrats showed up, flipping two House seats, sending Gretchen Whitmer to the governor's mansion, and making huge gains in the state legislatures -- although Republicans still retained majorities due to gerrymandering.

Donald Trump's campaign staff may be crazy, but they're not stupid. They know damn well that their only hope of hanging on to the state's 16 electoral votes is to make sure that Democrats don't show up. And so, Politico reports, they're asking McConnell to just write off the challenge to Democratic Senator Gary Peters in an effort to depress turnout.

Wayne County was also at the root of a dispute between the campaign and Senate GOP leaders over Republican Senate candidate John James earlier this year. Before James entered the contest, the campaign relayed concerns to the National Republican Senatorial Committee that James' bid could spur Democrats to invest more heavily in the state. At one point, the president's advisers penned a memo to the committee detailing how a James Senate campaign could drive up Democratic turnout and potentially hurt Trump's prospects.

Senate GOP leaders who recruited James strongly disagreed. They argued that the 38-year-old military veteran, widely regarded as a rising star, would give the party its strongest statewide ticket and boost the president.

UH HUH.

We plugged that quote into the Wonkette Secret Decoder Ring, and it said, "Donald Trump is shit scared of losing the entire upper Midwest and he thinks his best option is for the GOP to throw Michigan's Senate race so Democrats will invest money and GOTV efforts elsewhere. Mitch McConnell likes John James, but Debbie Stabenow beat him like a drum last year. So, if the GOP is going to lose anyway, they might as well blow off the whole race and pray that Trump sneaks in again under the wire." Or words to that effect.

Which is pretty goddamn craven, even for a parasite like Donald Trump who has devoured his entire Republican host party in his great, orange maw.

Or maybe Michigan is TOTALLY in play, and Mike Pence is key to the GOP win there. Just take it from Pence's Chief of Staff Marc Short:

I think the vice president, as a Midwestern governor, was helpful to the ticket in Midwestern states that flipped in 2016. And I think there's no doubt he'll be spending a lot of time here heading into 2020.

You bet! You can tell he takes it real serious by his deep understanding of proud Michigan traditions. Rumor has it he'll be interrupting next week's Lions game against the Kansas City Chiefs to do wheelies on Ford Field in Air Force 2. ALLEGEDLY.

[Politico / Slate]

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