I’m mostly interested in Mike Pence’s book So Help Me God for what he says about the experience of Covid controls, for this is what wrecked the administration he served. That will be my focus in what follows but let me first address what everyone is right now thinking: how could anyone give their autobiography such a self-serving filiopietistic title?
I don’t have the answer but he certainly leans in. He must have hired an editor to sprinkle the text as much as possible with Bible verses and other invocations of his deep connection to transcendent concerns, all of which serves as a helpful cover for what he actually did.
And what did he do? From the Birx book, the Kushner book, the WashPo book, and every other of the insider accounts we have so far, he provided cover to Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx and Robert Redfield in their drive to convince Trump of lockdown orders, and then protected the lockdown crew in their national drive to push controls long after Trump had lost the faith. Later, he stuck the knife in deeper and then bailed.
We know that this is true now from his own account. To be sure, his main theme is that the Trump administration, thanks to him and his spiritual maturity, did almost everything correct in 2020. Then the Biden administration showed up and messed everything up using a ‘top-down’ and public-sector approach that the Trump administration rejected. This is a brazenly partisan take at multiple levels.
As he summarises (emphasis mine throughout):
We reinvented testing from a standing start, produced and distributed billions of pieces of personal protective equipment, and manufactured tens of thousands of ventilators. In nine short months we developed three safe and effective vaccines; when we left office in January 2021, we were vaccinating a million Americans a day. Together, we saved millions of lives in the greatest national mobilisation since World War II. It took all of us, the whole of Government, the whole of America. But we did it. Only in America.
There is no evidence, obviously, of this claim that “we saved millions of lives,” but I’ve come to expect this sort of language. ‘Saved millions of lives’ has become a rhetorical stand-in for: please do not criticise my appalling failure. And by the way, the line ‘Only in America’ is deployed constantly throughout the book but this too is ridiculous. The lockdowns and deployment of other NPIs were global in scope. He surely knows this so the phrase is just more self-serving jingoism, which he must assume plays to his potential voting base.