- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2020

As chief of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, Vice President Mike Pence has upped his profile plenty on the public radar. Mr. Pence is also getting good reviews.

“He’s a daily, consistent presence on the airwaves. He provides useful info rather than random digressions. He leans on health and medical experts — both at public events and behind the scenes,” write Axios co-founders Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, in a review of this uncommon surge.

It is his “presidential moment,” they say.

“Pence, 60, a likely contender for the Republican nomination in 2024, has become one of the most praised administration officials during the virus crisis,” they note.

Tech author Scott Galloway said the vice president had done a “reasonably good job” while Politico media columnist Jack Shafer said Mr. Pence “acted less like the ‘coronavirus czar’ and more like a good old-fashioned White House press secretary. He was calm. He was direct. He was polite in face of shouted, competing questions.”



Mr. Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short tells Axios that the vice president “has an understanding of what people are looking for” — facts that are “straightforward, not alarmist.”

“Most importantly, Pence seems on the level. The more Americans see of him, the more likely they are to believe what the administration says about this crisis, provided that Pence’s statements about the pandemic hold up over time,” advises Paul Mirengoff, a columnist at Powerline.com.

REASSURING NEWS

“Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults assess the strength of U.S. national defense as being ‘about right,’ two points off the record-high 64% from 1990. About twice as many say U.S. defense is not strong enough (25%) as say it is stronger than it needs to be (12%),” reports Gallup analyst Jeffrey M. Jones, who adds that the majority of Americans are also comfortable with the amount of military spending.

“At a time when Americans are relatively satisfied with the strength of the U.S. military and the amount of military spending, 58% say the U.S. is No. 1 in the world militarily,” writes Mr. Jones. See more numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

A TEMPORARY TRUCE FOR GOP, DEMOCRATS?

As public alarm grows over the coronavirus health emergency, one veteran columnist has a simple panacea which could at least get the nation through the next month: Neutralize the bitter sparring between Democrats and President Trump.

“It’s time to do something about our national divide. A 30-day political cease-fire is reasonable and doable. We must take a break from the hate,” writes New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin.

“A month would be a good cooling-off period to allow the public-health emergency to take its rightful place at the top of the agenda without the distraction of personal sniping, which is especially demoralizing these days. In this environment, each attack smacks of pettiness and politics-as-usual. Partisanship has an important role in our enduring experiment with self-government, but not now. Now is the time for a united America to mobilize against a lethal scourge,” he continues.

“A 30-day cease-fire would allow the entire nation to focus on saving lives and preventing further disaster to the economy and jobs. There would be plenty of time later to resume the political hostilities before the November election,” Mr. Goodwin advises. “An agreement would be nice, but isn’t necessary. All they need do is start behaving as Americans first and partisans second.”

BORDERING ON INSANITY

In the wake of the pared-down Democratic presidential field, one GOP official has a reminder.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are leading the Democrat Party’s charge for open borders. And they’re sounding like the same person: Biden has promised to end illegal immigration detention ‘across the board,’ and to not deport illegal immigrants who have committed felony-like offenses,” points out Steve Guest, rapid response communications director for the Republican National Committee.

“Bernie backs a moratorium on all deportations of illegal immigrants in the U.S. and says that it is not ‘appropriate’ to deport illegal immigrants not following law in the U.S. And both Biden and Bernie support government health care for illegal immigrants. Bottom Line: While Bernie and Biden push for plans that would make the border crisis worse, President Trump‘s deal with Mexico has achieved results,” Mr. Guest advises, citing a single Associated Press headline regarding the outcome of Mr. Trump’s productive call to Mexico to help with the illegal immigration challenge:

“AP exclusive: Border apprehensions drop for eight straight months.”

HELPFUL DIVERSION

“Just because coronavirus has you avoiding public spaces doesn’t mean you can’t get cultured from home,” reports Fast Company analyst Lilly Smith, who shares all the details.

“Google Arts & Culture has partnered with over 2,500 museums and galleries around the world, including Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, London’s National Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The featured collections vary depending on the museum, but most include online exhibits, a ‘street view’ that lets you explore inside the institution itself, as well as galleries of the artwork, where you can deep dive into paintings,” Ms. Smith advises.

Find it all at Artsandculture.google.com/partner.

POLL DU JOUR

• 63% of U.S. adults say it’s “important” for the U.S. to be the No. 1 military force in the world; 86% of Republicans, 56% of independents and 45% of Democrats agree.

• 62% overall say the strength of the national defense is “about right”; 67% of Republicans, 64% of independents and 52% of Democrats agree.

• 58% overall say the U.S. has the No. 1 defense in the world; 75% of Republicans, 52% of independents and 46% of Democrats agree.

• 50% overall say U.S. defense spending is “about right”; 72% of Republicans, 42% of independents and 36% of Democrats agree.

• 41% overall say the U.S. is “only one of several leading powers” in the world; 25% of Republicans, 46% of independents and 53% of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll OF 1,028 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 3-16 and released Monday.

• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin

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