Auto-Tuning POTUS-Speak

CNN’s Donna Bash interviewed Mike Pence on Wednesday, January 18.

Let that thought settle for a second, please. Yes, that Mike Pence and that CNN—the megagigantic news outlet that Donald Trump referred to as fake news, while refusing to take a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta last week.

Creative Commons: Bass Turbopedal By Dhscommtech; Pence by Gage Skidmore
Creative Commons: Bass Turbopedal By Dhscommtech; Pence by Gage Skidmore

Mike Pence’s interview with Danna Bash yesterday, was itself yet another walk-back in the long and growing-ever-longer litany of walk-backs and Auto-Tuning that Mike Pence has done, is doing, and will continue to do throughout the Trump Administration to make his boss and his boss’s ideas more pleasing to the American ear.  Included in the interview was some tweaking of Trump’s statements about the proposed Repeal and Replacement of Obamacare.

For example:

The Plan Is Ready, Says Trump

Donald Trump Caricature Creative Commons By DonkeyHotey - Flickr
Caricature Creative Commons By DonkeyHotey – Flickr

Trump told the Washington Post that the replacement for the Affordable Care Act is nearly finished. Only the final touches need to be done!

Mr. Pence isn’t quite sure about that. There are, he says in the CNN interview, “a lot of great ideas.” The bill “is being crafted” as we speak.

“Finishing touches” and “lot of great ideas” are not the same thing. They are worlds apart, and here’s an example of that:

Everyone Covered

Mr. Trump has said that in the New Trump Plan—which is undergoing its finishing touches—everyone will be covered.

Not so, says Mr. Pence. Of course he doesn’t say, “Not so.” That would be a denial of Mr. Trump’s position, and Pence is more nuanced than that, at least in public. What Mr. Pence said to Danna Bash was, “Everyone will be able to afford coverage.”

So everyone covered becomes affordable coverage available.

Again, not the same. Again, not close.

It’s the job

One can’t help but wonder how much of the Veep’s time will be spent translating DonaldSpeak into words that mean things. But however long this lasts, and however much time is spent fine-tuning and tweaking and re-speaking and sound-bite-editing, it is extremely important to Mike Pence personally that he do so and do it well.

Because he is the Number Two guy whose Number One guy gets off on firing people. We all know, don’t we, that if Pence doesn’t artfully dance the “Tell Them What I Should Have Said” dance for Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump will replace him in a hot second.

Too, Mike Pence naturally has post-Trump ambitions. The Top Job itself, of course, but even failing that there are book deals, Elder Statesman posts, Boards of Directors for Deep Pocket Corporations, and so on.

Stick Figure falling backward-CC0 Public Domain - PixabayHe has to not get fired. That’s all. Which may be more difficult than it would be in other administrations, because we’re dealing here with a POTUS who doesn’t like it when he knows other people think he’s wrong.

Walking that line between “this is what Trump meant to say” and “Oh, no, Mr. Trump, of course you meant what you said” is going to be very tricky. If he can walk this tightrope effectively, he is a deft and wily guy indeed.

You can see the CNN interview here.



Sharon Hambrick grew up in Fundamentalist Christianity and still “defaults” Fundy much of the time, to her own consternation. A licensed California lawyer, mother of five, wife of one, writer, inveterate road-tripper, and burgeoning feminist Democrat, Sharon wept away November 9, but woke up on November 10 determined to do something. When the idea of a Pence Watch was presented to her, she eagerly hopped on board.

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