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Pence, Manchin, And Their Inner Marlon Brando

I do impressions. I’m not Rich Little, but I carry a few off rather well. I generally only do them for my own amusement, but every now and then they do actually serve a purpose (at least in my own brain).

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Lately I’ve been thinking about Mike Pence and Joe Manchin. Every time I do, I somehow slip into Marlon Brando. It’s sad, really.

No, not the impression – my Brando is pretty well spot-on. It’s sad because of the phrases that spring to mind each time Pence or Manchin enters my consciousness.

For Pence, it’s invariably “I could’a been somebody”.

Is there anyone to whom this phrase more aptly applies? Mike Pence was the heir apparent to the MAGA throne. He could easily have sat in the Oval Office as President in 2024, and he’d have had throngs of Trump supporters behind him all the way, just as The Donald does now.

Did you see how he calmly, professionally, and viciously destroyed Kamala Harris in the VP debate leading up to the 2020 election? It was like watching a surgeon cutting cancer from a brain. Monet putting brushes to canvas. Truly a thing of beauty. I’d long admired the man, and after that debate performance I’d have followed him to the gates of Hell and gladly walked right through them alongside him.

Sadly, when standing at those gates, he turned tail and ran. I’ll forgive a lot of things, but outright cowardice ain’t one of ‘em, especially from someone to whom I’d pledged my loyalty.

Mike Pence could have done the right thing. He could have stood up and said NO. Even if his “no” was brushed aside later; even if it was overturned by the Supreme Court, or ignored by Congress, or ballyhooed by the mainstream media hand-wringers for weeks on end, he could have done the right thing and said NO.

America needed a leader in that moment, and they got a chump. There is nothing on this planet that could make me cast a vote for Mike Pence ever again. White House? I wouldn’t put him in charge of a DOG house. Let the coward die the thousand deaths he’s earned.

“I could’a been somebody.”

Yes. Yes you could have, Mike. You could have gone down in history as a Hero of the Republic. Instead, you’re less than the stuff I scrape off of my shoes after stepping injudiciously through a kennel.

Hear me now, GOP – there are millions and millions who feel just as I do. If you run Mike Pence, you’ll lose. I’d rather watch the enemy I know destroy my country than depend on a coward who can’t be counted on to save it. I won’t vote for Biden or Harris (or whatever lunatic the Democrats put up in 2024), but I won’t vote for Pence either. I just won’t vote.

Joe Manchin gets the Brando treatment, too, and frankly I’ve tried “I could’a been somebody” on him as well. I can make it work. I can see Manchin folding like a flimsy deck chair, taking his one opportunity to truly save the nation and pissing it away just as Pence did. I’ve watched Manchin in politics for forty years, way back to when he was just a statewide row-office candidate.

I recall viewing him then as a pretty solid promoter, but it always bordered on hucksterism with me. I was continually amazed as his circus-clown schtick moved him further and further up the political stream, and I’m certain he’s experienced quite a number of deck-chair moments along the way. Rarely, though, does a single man have the true opportunity to rise to the status of Hero. That spotlight shines on Manchin right now.

To make the most of it, he’d better channel his inner Brando, and I don’t mean the “On the Waterfront” version. No, he’d better cue up Don freakin’ Corleone; wise, powerful, strong, devious, calculating. In the end, he’d be best served being the guy who stands firm even in the face of great pressure, making his offer and then decapitating a stallion if it isn’t agreed to. This country is depending entirely on Manchin and Sinema to lose Sonny, take a bullet, and STILL get out of the hospital bed to reign in the miscreants.

Failing that, Joe Manchin can follow Mike Pence with a career, and a legacy, that sleeps with the fishes.

By Jackson P. Chamberlain

Copyright © 2021 by Jackson P. Chamberlain. All non-contractual rights reserved.

Jackson P. Chamberlain is a right-leaning, liberty-loving husband and father whose American heritage dates back nearly four hundred years. He writes from his home at the base of the Appalachian Mountains. He can be found on GETTR @jpchamberlain, or on MeWe as Jackson Chamberlain.