How I would have handled the Hamilton incident if I were VP-elect
Big ‘news’ today that Mike Pence and apparently his family attended Broadway superhit “Hamilton” last night, and the cast had a message for him about diversity.
Some including President-elect Trump are offended, demanding an apology and boycotting. My perspective is different — Pence missed a golden political opportunity. Worse, the hub-bub makes Trump/Pence look like a pair of losers. This post is about what I would have done, if I were in his shoes. Call me a Monday morning quarterback, I don’t mind!
A little about me as disclosure… I lean right politically. Unlike many in my social circles, I want to see President-elect Trump and his Administration be successful and effective. I’d prefer this to the dire prognostications or the predictions of failure that many are throwing forth — my preference would be for stronger economic growth, less foreign military entanglements, and a better approach to financing entitlements.
With that out of the way, here’s my thinking on the Pence-Hamilton thing.
First, I have absolutely no problem with the Hamilton cast making a statement to Vice President-elect Pence. Hard to imagine a more straight down the fairway exercising of the First Amendment. Power to them.
Second, apparently, what I’ve read of the reporting on Mr. Pence’s response is, in fact heartening. When asked about the incident this morning, the quote I have read is, “I wasn’t offended by what was said. I’ll leave it to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it…. I just want to reassure every American that in the days ahead I’m very confident that they are going to see President Elect Donald Trump be a president for all the people and we embrace that principle.” Solid. Would have been a better Tweet from our President-elect.
If, by some crazy unthinkable alignment of planets, I were in this situation, I think that I’d have considered a different, more aggressive approach. I think VP-elect Pence could have taken command, and said basically, “Thank you for your words, and I want to assure you I hear you. Though I don’t have writers as good as yours :), I’d say this. We are all in this together, and as our nation’s Vice President-elect, I’m committed to representing all Americans.”
I would have wanted to have gone on to say, “Look, I understand that you and many have concerns about America. If we can secure this space, right here, right now, let’s have a discussion. So long as it can be two ways, and we can have a discussion, I’ll engage each and every one of you.” I think that turning the tables would have been bad ass. Unbelievable opportunity to reinforce a key message around tolerance and calm, the impact would have been a thunderclap.
I do think Pence’s response (as reported in the press, I’ve not seen video of it) was definitely solid. I would have liked a more aggressive response in real time, however, as I think that would have put a more emphatic point on the matter.