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It happens a lot.

Vice presidents come in all shapes and sizes, Joe Biden was a lifelong politician who could spit out speeches that pumped energy into any group in front of him. Dan Quayle sprinted around the globe and was a master negotiator on Capitol Hill. Dick Cheney—well, Dick Cheney did just about everything. But Mike Pence is a new kind of vice president, while he’s passionate about the Bible and heterosexuality, he seems mostly to be used as a political pawn by his brash boss.

That’s right, Mike Pence constantly gets cucked.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence are just about the most unlikely pair in history. Pence has strong convictions that he’s stuck to for his entire life; he’s soft-spoken and apologetic. Trump has changed political parties more times than he’s changed wives. But Pence’s role as Trump’s pawn has become increasingly clear, and sometimes, we almost have to feel bad for the white-haired VP.

Recently, Pence was expected to visit the World Economic Forum in Switzerland—a who’s who of rich guys that has globalism conspiracy theory written all over it. But when Trump found out, he stepped in and decided that he would attend. French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly even used Pence to get to Trump, playing to his ego by listing off the influential leaders who would be at the summit.

In October, Pence visited an Indianapolis Colts game and walked out when some of the players kneeled during the national anthem. After Pence left the stadium, the VP tweetedI will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”

But the president undercut Pence immediately, tweeting that he asked Pence to leave the game if players disrespected the flag.

As an extra stab, he immediately began fundraising off Pence’s walk-out.

Pence constantly seems delegated to the tasks that Donald Trump doesn’t care too much about. He played a lead role rounding up the votes to overturn the Affordable Care Act, only to see it crash at his feet in the end. That role included bringing together Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and moderate Republican Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and even going to the Hill in the middle of the night to cast his vote on the measure, which wound up not being necessary. 

One of Pence’s first acts as vice president was equally embarrassing, installing Betsy Devos to lead the Department of Education. Devos stumbled through her confirmation hearing with the grace of a drunken poodle, at one point even revealing that she didn’t know the difference between proficiency and growth. Her main qualification seemed to be the millions of dollars that her family has forked to Republicans. When the Senate was tied on her confirmation, Pence was sent in to cast the deciding vote.

Obviously, the more rational move would have been for Trump to pull her nomination and offer up a more qualified candidate. Instead, Pence installed her. 

While Trump regularly jets off to Mar-a-Lago, his understudy is rarely spotted at the property. The first time that Pence visited the resort was in March of 2017two months after Trump assumed the presidency. Trump had already been to his Florida golf clubs four times since his Oval Office tenure began, according to data from TrumpGolfCount.com. In fact, Trump’s frequent golf trips have allowed him to play with a number of star golfers and politicians, but Pence is remarkably absent from the fairway. In the estimated 91 times that Trump has golfed during his presidency, Pence hasn’t been seen at his side once.

Even worse, Pence has consistently found himself as the butt of Donald Trump’s jokes. A New Yorker profile of Pence alleged that the president belittled him for his stance on Roe v. Wade, telling him “you see, you’re not going to end abortion anyway.” When a meeting turned to gay rights, Trump reportedly forked his thumb at Pence and retorted “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!” That same profile alleges that when guests visited Trump’s office after seeing Pence, the president would ask “did Mike make you pray?”

And the VP has constantly had to play defense for his boss. In past weeks, he’s been forced to defend Trump’s “shithole countries” remark; which he did by telling the Associated Press, “I know what’s in the president’s heart.” In that same interview, he had to push back on the allegations that Trump cheated on Melania with porn star Stormy Daniels. Pence called the claims “baseless.” Even more notably, Pence doesn’t seem to have Trump’s ear on any major issues. White House aide Stephen Miller and Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) give him advice on immigration. His military strategy is largely left to General Mattis and even his recent decision to move the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem seems to be at the urging of Jared Kushner.

The obvious question posed by Trump’s treatment of his VP is why would Mike Pence do this?

It’s really not that tough to see why Mike Pence continues on this track—he wants to be president. The New Yorker profile and a profile by the Atlantic both drew that same conclusion.

The vice president has made several moves to position himself for the Oval Office. He came out against Donald Trump Jr. when it was revealed in November that the president’s eldest son was communicating with WikiLeaks. And his fundraising abilities, though largely under-the-radar, are impressive. During his gubernatorial campaign, he enjoyed a hefty contribution from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has a history of influencing politics. Just after Pence assumed the vice presidency, Adelson was granted a closed-door meeting with the snowy-haired politician. The Koch brothers also have very strong ties to Pence and have managed to place a number of their people in the Trump administration, including installing Scott Pruitt in the coveted position of EPA director. 

Fourteen vice presidents have eventually assumed the role of the presidency. There’s pretty good chance that Pence feels himself within spitting distance of the Oval Office. The Mueller investigation appears to be closing in Trump’s inner circle, with the news of recent interviews of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon and there’s a chance that Mueller will bring the president up on obstruction of justice or money laundering charges. So, Pence might be even closer to the presidency than anyone thinks. He just has to put up with the current president for a little while. Until then, that mostly means being played as a pawn in Trump’s topsy-turvy White House.

It may even be worth the cuck.

Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas is a journalist based in Washington, D.C.

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