In Piety & Power, LoBianco follows Pence from his evangelical conversion in college to his failed career as a young lawyer, to his thwarted attempts at politics until he hitched his wagon to far-right extremism, becoming the Congressional poster boy for faith-based policy and Tea Party rhetoric. Giving readers a minute-by-minute account of the selection process that made him Donald Trump’s unlikely running mate in 2016, Piety & Power traces Pence’s personal and political life, painting a picture of a man driven by faith and conviction, yes, but also a hunger for power.
Tom LoBianco asks all the right questions in Piety & Power, his crisp and engaging biography of the vice president, but the answers remain elusive. As a reporter in Indiana, LoBianco covered Pence’s rise for The Associated Press and Indianapolis Star. He tells us of a boy from a plain Midwestern upbringing who explored the intersection of faith and politics and became a radio host, congressman and governor. But LoBianco is left — along with the rest of us — to wonder at the interior life that Pence guards so zealously.
Tom LoBianco is the latest author to attempt to fill in the blanks on the canvas that is the vice-president. Unlike some Pence books, the result is neither hit job nor hagiography. Rather, the veteran Pence-watcher portrays his subject as a committed Christian with sharp elbows and a sonorous voice, one who has struggled with the tugs of faith and ambition, his sensibilities now dulled by baptism in Trump’s swamp ...
Pence’s journey, and to a lesser degree LoBianco’s book, reflect the dilemma faced by faith communities at a time when religious 'nones' are a growing part of the population, organized religion is mired in scandal and mainline Protestantism, the creed of the Founding Fathers, has ceded its sway ... Piety and Power is an American tale.
LoBianco is especially effective in explaining how [Pence's] 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.