Collins, solo

In “Trump With a Tail” Ms. Collins says Mike Pence pulls leash; the president barks.  Here she is:

How bad do you need to be to get rejected for Donald Trump’s cabinet?

We’ve got nominees who don’t really know anything about the subject they’d be overseeing. Some hatehatehate the federal programs they’d be charged with guiding. Some have messy financial issues that haven’t been resolved.

But Trump’s pick for secretary of education swept the board. Trifecta! Betsy DeVos, it’s become clear, knows very little about public schools, doesn’t like them and has minimal experience in management. Plus, she’s a billionaire whose money is in a bewildering stack of holding companies.

“I have never seen a nominee with such tangled and opaque finances,” complained Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington.

This was after a procedural vote on the nomination on Friday. The Republican leadership dragged the senators in at dawn, before everybody left town for the weekend. It was a productive morning. Not only did they kick the DeVos can down the line, but by 7 a.m., the majority had also managed to castrate a formerly bipartisan rule aimed at keeping oil and mining companies from bribing foreign governments.

The big DeVos vote is next week. After listening to her flounder around in a hearing, two Republican senators said they just couldn’t bring themselves to support her, so it looks like it’ll come down to 50-50. All eyes will turn to Mike Pence. Who will become the first vice president since the founding of the republic to break a tie on a cabinet nomination.

And you thought Donald Trump was just babbling when he promised to make history.

Pence is looking more and more like the Big Man in the administration. Conservatives who see their president as a large, scary spending machine follow Pence’s every move with adoration. The religious right is counting on him to keep a chief executive with a history of crotch-grabbing on the straight and narrow when it comes to their agenda. And Republicans in Congress realize he’s the only member of the top team who could get through a phone conversation with the prime minister of Australia without causing an international crisis.

It’s a lot of fun to think of Donald Trump as a mere lap dog. Granted, a lap dog who runs around snarling and snapping and signing executive orders, which he seems to regard as some long form of Twitter. But at the end of the leash — Mike Pence.

It’s very likely that having the vice president in command would only give us a more conservative, better-organized version of the Trump brand. But the important thing is that nothing could drive our new president crazier than suggesting he’s just Pence’s pet.

Our readers seem very interested in this concept, particularly when it comes to torturing Trump. This week I suggested some possible nicknames for the president, and the votes are in. I am happy to report that we will now be calling Donald Trump … wait for it … Pence’s Poodle.

I was kind of hoping for Pence’s Pomeranian — because, you know, of the hair. There were some write-ins for Pence’s Pug, and a number of protests from people who did not want their dog connected in any way with the 45th president of the United States. But what can I tell you? A vote is a vote.

The Poodle had a big week — unnerving other heads of state over the phone, confusing people at meetings and signing those executive orders. On Friday, he was directing the government to liberate our financial industry from the heavy boot of regulation that left the nation’s bankers and hedge fund managers living on rice and beans during the Obama era.

One of the goals is to get rid of a pending rule requiring brokers to act in their clients’ “best interests” when they’re giving advice about retirement investments. Obviously, this would be really, really hard on our nation’s forgotten financial consultants. And you know how much the beleaguered working class hates the gloom of transparency in their I.R.A.s. But liberation is on the way.

Trump was the star of the National Prayer Breakfast while Pence sat in the audience, smiling and nodding and occasionally offering his boss an extra bowl of kibble. Our chief executive thanked Pence for being “incredible” right after he told the audience that the ratings for “The New Celebrity Apprentice” are much lower now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the host. (“It’s been a total disaster.”) The show’s creator was in the room and the president said he was sure “Mark [Burnett] will never, ever bet against Trump again.”

Have you noticed that Pence’s Poodle tends to refer to the hero of all his stories as “Trump”? Perhaps he thinks of “Trump” as a separate person. Maybe an action hero who leaps around the country saving people from public schools or financial oversight, while occasionally stopping to wag his powder-puff tail in the direction of the vice president.

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