The redeployment of Mike Pence, agent of distraction, and the ever widening war with the NFL

This past November, just a few weeks after the presidential election, Donald Trump quietly settled a fraud case against Trump University for $25 million, rather than go to court and respond to charges that the unaccredited education company operating under his name, was, to quote a former Trump University employee, “a fraudulent scheme… that preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.” This, as you may recall, was done in direct opposition to an often repeated campaign promise that Trump had made to defend himself in court, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the charges were baseless. As you may also recall, the news of the settlement didn’t really make much of an impact with the American people, in part due to the fact that it became public just before the Thanksgiving holiday, but mostly because, just after the agreement was struck, Mike Pence, our aggressively anti-gay Vice President, decided that he needed to see the Broadway musical Hamilton. As you might imagine, he didn’t receive the warmest of welcomes, from either his fellow audience members, or the cast, and, as a result, the story of the $25 million settlement was effectively pushed from the front page of the internet. [“If your media outlet is focused on Trump v Hamilton instead of Trump’s $25 million fraud settlement, you are a sad pawn in Trump’s game,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior aide to Barack Obama, to The Guardian.]

It was a brilliant move on the administration’s part. And, given how well it worked, I expected that, once Trump was in the White House, we’d see a great deal more of it… with Pence being sent out to fan flames of white victimization and cultural resentment every time Trump needed to create a distraction, and once again cast himself, and his followers, as the undeserving targets of the anti-American, liberal establishment.

Well, it took a little while, but it looks as though Pence is finally back at it, fulfilling is promise as a distraction puppet to be used by Trump in order to stir shirt up. Yesterday, at the behest of the President, Pence was dispatched to an Indiana Colts football game, where, like the Manchurian Candidate’s Raymond Shaw, he robotically sat and awaited the signal he’d been programmed to respond to. [According to Trump himself, he had “asked Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country.”] Pence went in, he stood for the national anthem, and, then, when he saw the first knee touch the field, he sprang to action, running for the doors, explaining to the press how the horrifying visage of a few football players, about a thousand yards away, quietly kneeling for 45 seconds, had driven him to take immediate action. Once outside the stadium, he posted the following to Twitter, explaining his actions, which he presented as spontaneous.

[As others have pointed out, it’s worth remembering that Trump has, again and again, proven himself to be much more accepting of violent protests by white supremacists than he is of these silent protests by black football players. For instance, to my knowledge, he has yet to comment on the fact that, this past weekend, white supremacists returned to Charlottesville with torches in hand, to march through town changing, “You will not replace us,” and “Russia is our friend.” No, instead, he sent Pence to the Colts game to call out these athletes for being “disrespectful.”]

The administration has attempted to downplay the extent to which Pence’s walkout was planned, but it was clearly political theater intended to further inflame racial divisions in America, which the President obviously thinks works to his political advantage. Vice President Pence, it is now overwhelmingly clear, never had any intention of watching the game. As Trump has since admitted, Pence had been sent with the instruction that, if he should see anyone kneeling, he should walk out. And they knew that’s exactly how it would play out. In fact, according to NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander, members of the media “had been instructed to wait (after Pence went into the stadium), as there would be news to cover.”

And, again, it seems to have worked… At least, based on what I’ve seen, my sense is that more people today are talking about the fact that Pence walked out of an NFL game, than are talking about last night’s 60 Minutes piece about how the Trump campaign, aided by the Russians, exploited Facebook to win the White House, or how Republican Senator Bob Corker was just quoted as saying that Trump was “putting us on the course to World War III,” or how our President this morning took to Twitter to complain that he’s not getting enough praise for what he’s done in Puerto Rico. [“Nobody could have done what I’ve done for Puerto Rico with so little appreciation,” he said.] No, people seem more interested in talking about the fact that Pence bravely stood in defense of true patriots everywhere by walking out of a football game when confronted by men quietly kneeling… as though taking a knee were anywhere near as offensive, as, say, grabbing a pussy, which Pence apparently has no problem with.

Trump, for what it’s worth, seems to have a lot riding on this war with the NFL that he’s started. He swore that this kneeling epidemic would be the end of the league, and now he’s anxious to demonstrate his power by hitting them in the pocketbook. Last week, he told everyone that the NFL’s ratings were “way down” because players were “disrespecting the country,” but that wasn’t actually the case. As with everything he says, it was a lie. The Week 3 ratings were actually up this year over last year… Hence, I suspect, why Pence was given the task of taking the fight to the NFL, hoping perhaps to inspire copycat walkouts. Regardless, though, I suspect it works with Trump’s base, even if they keep right on watching football. They like that he’s a “fighter,” who isn’t even afraid of taking on the NFL. And, I’m sure, it doesn’t hurt that, to a great extent, the men being labeled as “disrespectful” are black men… And now Trump is trying to make the case that America is solidly behind him. There’s no real evidence to back him up, but Trump just posted that Pence is “receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!

Oh, and not that it matters, but this little political stunt that we just witnesses apparently cost the American taxpayers $242,000, and that’s just taking into account air travel, not including Secret Service, ground support, etc.

As for where all of this leaves us, I’m not sure. If I had to guess, I’d say that we’re not done with this war on football. Unlike most things, it would seem as though it’s not something that Trump is likely to tire of. And I suspect that his advisors would rather have him attacking football players than taunting dictators with the ability of launching nuclear weapons in our direction… I could go on, but I’m tired…

One last thing… If we had access to time travel, I think the easiest way to stop Trump from becoming president wouldn’t be to stop his parents from having sex, but going back just a few decades and convincing the NFL owners to let him buy a team. I really think, had he gotten a team of his own, we wouldn’t be here right now. Being the owner of an NFL team is what he really wanted, not having to fly to Puerto Rico to feign concern for people without access to clean drinking water. He wanted to walk through the cheerleaders’ dressing room, and do interviews with ESPN where he could talk shit about other teams. Instead, though, here we are, living in his nightmare, like the extras in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

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  1. Iron Lung
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Remember when Republicans were talking about “Obamabots?” People even wrote books on it.

    Those same people are now not calling themselves “Trumpbots.”

  2. wobblie
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    Trump/Pence expected their supporters to leave the game with him–failed as political theater.

  3. Eel
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    I feel bad for Pence. At least with the Hamilton stunt, he got to see the play.

  4. Iron Lung
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    I don’t feel bad for Pence.

    If he realizes how hard he’s being played, he’s an idiot. If he doesn’t, he’s an idiot.

  5. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    It is sooo enjoyable to see you reduced to whimpering about Trump’s message to the NFL, which I believe most football fans agree with by the way. Russian collusion turned out to be a mega fuckin’ lie so now you are grasping at any straw you can to save yourself from drowning (it’s not working).

  6. Citywatch
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    This article is well done Mark. Thanks for posting. I have been saying for many months that this technique of distraction has been practiced from the beginning of Trump’s campaign and it continues even with the departure of Steve Bannon. It is theatre plain and simple. Trump tweets and his lies and antics become the plot line while issues important to the American people are buried as the sub-plot! It is positively Shakespearean. Every time something important like healthcare votes or revelations like collusion with the Russians is about to come up, the court jester, Trump, or Spicer, or Pence, or the Halloween-like Kellyanne Conway, marches up and down the stage spouting nonsense to distract the audience. The Canadian press has been onto this deflection/deception since the “pussy grabbing” incidents. “Billy Bush got fired and Trump got hired” is a synopsis of a Canadian newspaper article about it. Can you imagine what would have happened if that had been Trudeau or anyone else in a civilized democracy? The Canadians are even keeping track of Trump’s lies and mis-representations (more than 500 so far). As you point out Mark, the Trump University scandal is huge and yet largely forgotten. It seems the American public just moves on to the next shiney object. Problems everywhere? Let’s bring out the court jester and get people focused and angry at the NFL! First amendment…….boooo. Misrepresent the meaning of the second amendment……yeaaaa!!

  7. Judd Legum by proxy
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Donald Trump now wants to punish the NFL by taking away a tax exemption they gave up 2 years ago.

  8. meanwhile....
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Reuters is reporting that the Puerto Rico hurricane death toll rises by four to 43.

  9. Jean Henry
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The thing about manipulating outrage is that it works even better on the left than on the right:

  10. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    “Donald Trump now wants to punish the NFL by taking away a tax exemption they gave up 2 years ago.”

    Doesn’t it suck being so wrong every day?
    The NFL gave up its tax-free status two years ago, but new or renovated stadiums are often funded at least in part by tax-exempt municipal bonds issued by local governments or states. Team owners benefit from government financing via lower interest rate bonds backed by team lease payments, stadium-generated revenue and even tax dollars.

    The administration could push for changes to the laws that allow professional sports teams to enjoy tax breaks normally aimed at city governments.

  11. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    “Reuters is reporting that the Puerto Rico hurricane death toll rises by four to 43.”

    oopsie daisy…

    U.S. federal prosecutor in Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodriguez announced Sunday her investigation into government officials who allegedly did not deliver hurricane relief aid to the island’s residents.

    During an interview on WAPA Radio, Rodriguez criticized two officials who failed to deliver needed supplies to their constituents, Metro PR reported.

    “This morning we received information from a town on the Island where a person close to the municipal administration was asking one of our federal agents that the supplies that were there could not be touched because they were for his mayor,” said Rodríguez, noting that the case is currently under investigation.

    She added she also learned from another source on the island that an official was hoarding supplies for residents “who had voted for that person.”

    The announcement of the investigation happened at the request of Gov. Ricard Rosello, when he became aware of numerous reports that FEMA supplies to some mayors were not reaching Puerto Rican residents.

    As of this past weekend, the U.S. military has officially taken over the distribution of all FEMA aid in Puerto Rico. (RELATED: US Military Takes Over Hurricane Relief Delivery In Puerto Rico)

  12. wobblie
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    As the wars continue without end, and new ones are being created (who knew we had troops on the ground in Nigeria?), the level of political discourse that our highest elected officials want to engage in is all about the NFL protest.
    The Russian high command believes we are preparing a first strike nuclear attack against them. Trump our most magnificent and greatest leader ever, says, “This is the calm before the storm” to a cadre of our military leaders . We or our proxies have been killing Russians for nearly a year.
    Absolutely no discussion any where among our political elite about how to end the wars.
    It seems that only a few of us remember Vietnam, the last endless war we could not win.
    Our military strategy then and now is always escalate. Expand the war.
    For 16 years the normal has been the US engaging in killing in one country after another.
    The most important thing in our civil life though is boycotting the NFL because some minority of players are standing up against the routine injustice visited upon people of color.
    We have probably killed over a million folks since 9/11, don’t you feel safer?
    Insouciant is a word that I’ve learned in the last year, (never to old to learn something new) and it perfectly describes our societies attitude about what we are doing to the world.
    Of course winning debating points on this blog is the most important thing.
    HW you get one point and so does JH. You have both made excellent points.

  13. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    That was from

    Is that bad? I can’t keep up with obtaining info from what sites makes someone a nazi or some shit like that.

  14. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    “The Russian high command believes we are preparing a first strike nuclear attack against them.”

    Really? Like more than we ever have been?

    If posting on this site was a basketball game Jean Henry would be the Washington Generals to my Harlem Globetrotters. There is no competition there. Jean gets skunked every time.

  15. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    “The thing about manipulating outrage is that it works even better on the left than on the right:

    Does anyone actually think these ads affected the outcome? Every attempt to discredit the election of Donald Trump by the people of the USA has failed.

  16. wobblie
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    HW you lose a point for inappropriate grand standing in the end zone. You are like all the rest of us, oblivious to the evil we are perpetrating and more interested in winning debating points so that you can spike the ball.
    Looked at the Daily Caller link above. In the course of about six paragraphs it contradicts itself. Begins by talking about complaints about two Mayors, and ends with an investigation of three–why three if there have only been two complaints. Anyone know whom appointed her the Federal Prosecutor ? Looked myself. Bush I appointed her, and currently she is serving without Senate confirmation. Got to wonder if this is her attempt to get re-appointed by our Greatest most Magnificent President ever.
    As they say follow the money and our Greatest most Magnificent President ever happens to hold her financial future in his tiny hands.
    Thanks for sharing the info

  17. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    It’s not a contradiction. There are at least two. Three would be icing on the cake. We all saw that dumb bitch stand there pointing at an empty warehouse pretending there wasn’t a dock 100% full of supplies to try making Trump look bad. Only two or three of us noticed though and we are the ones the rest of you attack.

    You aren’t qualified to ref at this level. How do you figure I perpetrate evil? This site is full of people who literally worship The Devil (her name is Hillary Clinton). They make mountains out of molehills (Russian bullshit) and molehills out of mountains (crimes of HRC and the DNC).

  18. wobblie
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    typical male response when accused of a foul, the ref is not qualified.

  19. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    That illustrates my point. You’re a sexist anti-sexist. You haven’t gotten beyond this baby shit of classifying everyone based on sex, skin color, socio-economic status, etc. Each of us is equipped the most advanced information processor in the known universe (and I don’t mean yer lil ‘puter you are sitting at). It’s stupid to get hung up on such superficial differences.

  20. Maria Huffman
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Iron Lung..Pence is better at playing Trump than i thought at first.

  21. Maria Huffman
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    I saw him put bis hand on the small of Trumps back and i thought Holy Shit!

  22. Maria Huffman
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    A very dominant move..he views himself superior to Trump , truly.

  23. charlieRomeo
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Too bad Pence didn’t take all of the rest of the white supremacists out of the stadium with him. They can get the hell out of the country.

  24. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted October 11, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I don’t think you people understand the gravity of calling regular people white supremacists, let alone half the country. It will backfire on you for sure and it will not be pleasant.

  25. Dave
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Well, Donald took some time out of his busy schedule to show us ingrates what it looks like to respect the National Anthem. Duly noted, Donald. Duly noted.

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