So Mike Pence has finally summoned some testicular fortitude and gone after Donald Trump for seriously endangering Pence’s life on January 6, 2021, when the soon-to-be ex-president did nothing to protect his VP from the gathering hordes trampling all over the Capitol. 

The Trump acolytes even rigged up a hangman’s noose to murder Pence on the 6th. The Donald, as we saw while anarchy was let loose, didn’t give two hoots about the violent chaos that unfolded all around him.

Now, finally – and it’s been a long time coming – Pence is hitting back at Trump for his failure to quell the violence on the day.

By doing so, Pence has finally reversed his previous position that he didn’t really feel endangered even when his security was hustling him away just yards ahead of a cutthroat mob. 

Finally, Pence has admitted his real thoughts about what happened on Capitol Hill on the 6th.

"I had no right to overturn the election, and his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable,” Pence said last weekend at the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington, D.C. 

What took you so long, Mike?

America has been here before, at the crossroads between anarchy and democracy when the stakes are at their highest, most notably during the War of Independence and the Civil War.

In these current times of political turmoil it is always encouraging to find, in the past, stories of those who prevailed and accomplished political union despite even greater odds than we have today.

President George Washington’s role in creating our freedoms is taken for granted instead of being viewed as the greatest achievement of all. What emerged from his leadership was a Constitution, now the oldest one in the world, which has sustained this nation and its democracy.  

That fact cannot be underestimated.

Washington could have been king. Or dictator, or president for life after defeating the British, but he refused all titles and claims of nobility after the British had been sent packing.

Instead, he warned prophetically of secession.  The American people need to be suspicious of anyone who seeks to abandon the Union, secede a portion of the country from the rest, or weaken the bonds that hold together the constitutional Union, he said.

That is exactly what the Civil War was about, and what Trump was trying to do to democracy by having one man (Pence) decide the election in his favor.

Washington would have despised Trump just like he despised royalty.  Not for the founding father was the role of dictator or seeker of a royal gilded throne, or a bejeweled scepter.

I was fortunate to give a lecture on Washington and the Irish at the first president’s Mount Vernon, Virginia homestead last week, based on my 2022 book George Washington and the Irish.

The modesty of the residence compared to the massive castles the British royals lived in was striking. Washington lived not like a king but as a country squire, close to his land and his people.

He was no showboat, yet he won both the war and the peace. If we follow his example – or indeed, that of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln – we will not go far wrong.

Yes, there is one major blot on Washington’s historical genius – failing to free his slaves – but we can only put that in the context of the times.  Of the first 12 American presidents only two, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, did not own slaves.

We all wish the reality was different, and slave ownership shows Washington in an unflattering light.  Yet compared to the presidents who came after him, Lincoln is the only one who bears comparison.

One wonders what those two greats would make of one of their successors standing idly by while his vice president came close to being hanged by a mob.

I’d say George and Abe would not think so kindly of that president, to say the least.