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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2343

Mike Pence: President Trump’s Conduit to the Real World

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

As President Trump’s media-invented metric, 100-day-in-office, is just around the corner and his modus operandi, both at home and abroad, is under intense scrutiny as never before, the Republican administration may have felt the need of someone, who could handle the delicate job of interpreting what their boss actually means, when the latter spells the policies out – either on Twitter or in a hastily arranged news conference before a selective audience.

So far, the issue has been successfully addressed by a well-respected gentleman, who was in the shadow of his hyperactive, superior, Donald Trump, during the presidential campaign – Mike Pence. Mr Pence, the newly elected Vice President, is currently on tour, while renovating the bridges between the allies and United States, which were subjected to a heavy erosion of loyalty during the campaign.

Time and again, Mr Pence has described himself as a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican in that order. Mr Pence, the former Governor of Indiana, has already shown in action that his Christian belief could be his search light, when he has to make a decision on an issue that borders on the wilderness between conservatism and survival politics.

The religious freedom bill that he signed into law in 2015 as the Governor of Indiana, in which he extended the legal protection for the business owners, who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings on the grounds of their religious beliefs, is a case in point. Mr Pence took the bold step despite being accused of sanctioning discrimination, the palpable anger among liberals and opposition of moderate conservatives.

Due to this major initiative and a range of measures on the same wavelength, Mr Pence has been subjected to presidential ridicule as well. At a White House dinner in the same year, for instance, the then President Obama was said to have joked, “Vice President Biden and I are so close that at some places in Indiana they won’t sever us pizza anymore!” - laugh

Mr Pence, who had been playing second fiddle during the first few weeks of the new administration, is playing a more active role in the arena of international politics at present. The series of foreign trips that has embarked upon in quick succession explicitly shows that he has a significant role to play in allaying the fears of the allies of the United States.

Equipped with negotiation skills based on mutual respect and a matching calm demeanour, Mr Pence is fast becoming the acceptable face of the new administration, when dealing with events of international significance. At present, President Trump is not short of urgent measures that could potentially determine his political success in the months to come.

When the North Korean crisis escalated into a major event last week, it was Mr Pence who flew to South Korea and Japan respectively to address their concerns – and anxieties. Mr Pence resurrected the hope, when he assured the counties on the firing line that they wouldn’t be abandoned in the event of being threatened by North Korea. In South Korea, Mr Pence boosted the morale of the South Koreans when he said that the strategic patience was over.

Mr Pence, who is currently in Australia, has already successfully repaired the damage done to the ties between the two nations, when President Trump and the Australian prime minister publicly fell out. Having embarked on a successful diplomatic mission, Mr Pence promised to honour the refugee deal that was signed between the two countries under Obama administration – a bone of contention between President Trump and Prime Minister Turnbull.

President Trump, who famously fell out with quite a few influential Republicans during the presidential campaign, appeared to be relying on two key individuals, when it comes to dealing with policy issues that matter to his electorate. They are Mike Pence and Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

In return, President Trump has shown his loyalty to both in public on many occasions. For instance, President Trump removed General Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, because the latter had been economical with the truth about his ties with Russia, when questioned by Mr Pence.

While delegating the major role of handling international relations to Mr Pence, President Trump has lessened the burden on himself on diplomatic front; because, he instinctively may have realized on Mr Pence’s watch, the administration would not make enemies any more – a significant milestone in his hundred days in office, for those who want to celebrate the metric in an excited way.

- Asian Tribune -

Mike Pence: President Trump’s Conduit to the Real World
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