Mike Pence says the American people 'have a right to their opinions,' but they shouldn't actually express them out loud.
On Friday, Mike Pence said Americans have a right to their opinions, and then immediately demanded Americans stop expressing their opinions.
"The American people have a right to their opinions," Pence said in an address to ICE employees. "But these spurious attacks on ICE by our political leaders must stop."
Pence was playing the role of dutiful Trump attack dog while Trump had started his weekend early at his estate in Bedminster, New Jersey. He slammed Democratic leaders who have criticized ICE for its inhumane practices under Trump, at a time when the agency causing fear among not only immigrants but American citizens as well.
Pence gave, as examples of these supposed "spurious attacks," calls by some Democrats, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, to disband the agency, feigning outrage that they are "actually openly advocating for the abolition of ICE."
The recent Trump-made crisis of family separation, in which thousands of children have been taken from their parents, has brought national focus on the horrific realities of Trump's inhumane policies.
Since taking office, Trump has used the government agency to terrorize immigrant communities. ICE agents have staked out courthouses, schools, and 7-Elevens. to round up immigrants for deportation. That includes detaining and deporting Americans who were brought to this country as children and permitted to remain here under the DACA program — until Trump ended it.
The terrorizing of families and of entire communities has led to calls for reforming or even disbanding ICE. Some of those calls are coming from ICE agents themselves, who say the agency can no longer do its job because it's too burdened with carrying out Trump's toxic mission.
Never mind that several members of the Trump administration — and the Republican Party at large — have for years called for ending or greatly reducing many federal agencies.
In the 2012 presidential primary debate, Rick Perry infamously said he wanted to close three government agencies: Commerce, Education, and "oops" he couldn't remember the third one.
When he took office, Trump put Perry in charge of the Department of Energy, that third one whose name he couldn't remember.
Meanwhile, Trump can't stop criticizing other government agencies, including the FBI, but Pence doesn't seem to have a problem with that. There have been no public lectures to Trump, or any of his lapdogs in Congress, about the constant smears against the FBI based on nothing more than an absurd conspiracy theory that some mythical "Deep State" is out to get Trump and make him look bad.
As if he needs any help from anyone on that front.
Pence works hard to portray himself as the reasonable, sensible, calm member of the administration, the one who is capable of staying on script.
But that's the problem. What Pence says isn't the off-the-cuff ramblings of a nutjob who happens to hold the highest office in the land. His words are carefully scripted attacks both on Americans who dare to criticize the administration and on the First Amendment itself.
When Pence says it, he knows exactly what he's saying. And that makes it even worse.