Pence + Prince

In The Intercept, Jeremy Scahill’s profile of Vice President-Elect Mike Pence depicts a repugnant little ideologue: “a reliable stalwart throughout his public life in the cause of Christian jihad — never wavering in his commitment to America-First militarism, the criminalizing of abortion, and utter hatred for gay people (unless they go into conversion therapy “to change their sexual behavior,” which Pence has suggested the government pay for).” I can’t do better than this description, nor should you fail to read the story for its invaluable hyperlinks, many of which we’ll see we hope-shorn liberals post on social media in the coming months.

But the real gold is in the second half of the story. The writer of the definitive book on how the Department of Defense and national security apparatus leased its war-waging powers to a private army, Scahill explains the connections between Pence and former Blackwater chief Eric Prince:

The Princes consistently poured money into criminalizing abortion, privatizing education, blocking gay rights, and other right-wing causes centered around their interpretation of Christianity. The family, especially Erik, was very close to Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man,” Watergate conspirator Charles “Chuck” Colson. The author of Nixon’s enemies list, Colson was the first person sentenced in the Watergate scandal, after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in the investigation of the dirty tricks campaign against Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Colson became a born-again Christian before going to prison, and after his release, he started the Prison Fellowship, which sought to convert prisoners to Christianity to counter what Colson saw as the Islamic menace in U.S. prisons. Erik Prince funded this as well and went on prison visits with Colson.

All of these figures, bankrolled by the Prince family, are the ideological and theological ascendants of Mike Pence, who called Colson “a dear friend and mentor.” Colson and his allies viewed the administration of Bill Clinton as a secular “regime” and openly contemplated a faith-based revolution. In the early ’90s, Colson teamed up with conservative evangelical minister-turned-Catholic priest Richard Neuhaus and others to build a unified movement

Now, when I got to the end of Scahill’s story I remembered the curt dismissal of Jason Robards’ Ben Bradlee in All The President’s Men: “You haven’t got it.” Pence may yet pull the trick that got New Jersey’s bosses to regret their decision to endorse Woodrow Wilson for governor: “We bought the son of a bitch, and then he didn’t stay bought.” Anyone hoping for the president-elect as a mitigator forgets that he hasn’t read any long book, much less the Bible.

Worse than the George W. Bush administration, a Trump White House will allow these Christian charlatans and their congressional collaborators untrammeled access to the public treasury until the idea of “public” loses its meaning.

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