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Mourning in America

State of the Union: Mike Pence does not know what time it is.

Republican National Convention: Day One
(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Mike Pence spoke a lot last night. He did pretty well on his own terms. He managed to capture a lot of airtime, and was more aggressive in his own defense than some had predicted. 

His message was more predictable. He offered the same warmed-over Reaganism that for 30 years passed for a Republican platform, with the same litany of slogans and unearned optimism about a country that, let us be honest, slides every day further and further from God’s light. 


I’ve met Pence before, and he is very much in private the man he is in public. He can be sanctimonious—if you can believe it—but he seems earnest and is deeply convicted. He has a sense of mission that, say, Vivek Ramaswamy does not.

But his mission is not quite mine, and his optimism is not mine, either. Last night, Pence challenged Ramaswamy on the notion that America needs a new national identity:

“We’re not looking for a new national identity. The American people are the most faith-filled, freedom-loving, idealistic hardworking people that the world has ever known. We just need government as good as our people.”

There are plenty of faith-filled Americans, yes. Most would consider themselves freedom-loving, plenty are hard-working, and most have ideals, though many of those ideals are terrible. 

Vivek Ramaswamy challenged Pence’s optimism:

“It is not morning in America. We live in a dark moment and we have to confront the fact that we’re in an internal sort of cold cultural civil war and we have to recognize that.”

Some perspective about our shining city on a hill: America’s “conservative” party, we learned last night, cannot decide whether a 15-week ban on abortion goes too far, or whether losing ”suburban women” is worth thousands of unborn lives. As Jude Russo put it, “we’re tap-dancing outside Dachau,” and it was cathartic to see someone on stage acknowledge as much, even if it was Vivek Ramaswamy. 

Ramaswamy is no better on abortion than Pence; I suspect he is worse. But at least he knows what time it is.