PIETY & POWER by Tom LoBianco


Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House
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A biography of the vice president, who has consistently demonstrated his “chameleon properties.”

In his work for the Associated Press, CNN, and the Indianapolis Star, journalist LoBianco has observed Mike Pence’s political career both as governor of Indiana and vice president. In his evenhanded debut book, the author sometimes offers his own commentary but mostly allows the facts to speak for themselves. (Pence declined to be interviewed for the book.) In The Shadow President (2018), Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner created a picture of Pence as an ineffective lawyer and governor and hypocritical vice president whose brand of Christian faith has led him to consistently condemn homosexuality and abortion. The co-authors argued that Pence could be considered an insignificant public figure with one exception: creating a persona as a radio talk show host in Indiana after losing two attempts to get elected to the House of Representatives; the show provided Pence a base that helped him gain entry to the House on his third attempt. LoBianco makes a similar argument, noting Pence’s “self-affixed Christian-first label” and his long-held, unswerving belief that the God of an inerrant Bible has preordained his path to the presidency. LoBianco is especially effective in explaining how his rigid beliefs receive daily affirmation from Pence’s wife, Karen. In convincing detail, the author shows how Karen made more final decisions about policy during Pence’s governorship than Pence did. As the author writes, his subjugation to Karen’s directions have likely carried over to his role as Donald Trump’s vice president. Despite offering copious evidence and periodic interpretations, LoBianco reiterates throughout the narrative that Pence is the “ultimate political shapeshifter,” especially compared to other elected politicians. The author presents the possibility that Pence could serve a second term if Trump wins in 2020 and then seek the presidency in 2024.

A useful portrait of an enigmatic politician.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-06-286878-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2019