Is Mike Pence suddenly wrong about his fidelity? That is the question of some, after the seemingly shocking revelation, the vice president does not have dinner alone with any woman but his wife.
The Washington Post ran a profile story on March 28, 2017, about Karen Pence, the wife of the vice president. The piece covered many aspects of their relationship, from the political, as well as personal fronts.
For instance, The Washington Post revealed the second lady is a prayer warrior on behalf of her husband, a personal consultant, and has “a direct and enduring connection” to the vice president. The author noted the second lady,
has repeatedly said that one of her ‘hard and fast rules’ is that she never weighs in on or attempts to influence policy.
However, the piece also mentions an article in The Hill in 2002 where Pence stated,
he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.
This statement has received harsh criticism from some in the media. Vox, the Vancouver Sun, and The Washington Post are prominent voices claiming, in effect, Pence is suddenly wrong about his fidelity.
Critics first took to social media lambasting Pence about this revelation. Some claimed this would mean Pence would not hire women in key positions and compared the couple’s principles to Sharia; Islamic law.
The comparison is inaccurate. The vice president has stated the reasons for these rules many times, which helps to safeguard his marriage. His Christian faith admonishes him to be so faithful and to avoid the appearance of unfaithfulness to his wife. The couple mutually agreed to these boundaries. They have managed to make it work for the past 32 years, at all levels of public service.
If one wanted to know how Pence treated women under his employ, there is a long record of government experience to examine. Simply claiming his marital safeguards, which have been known since 2002, would cause Pence to discriminate against women is, at best, hyperbole.
Sharia law must be obeyed regardless of personal beliefs or basic freedoms. It applies to all under its malevolent conceptions and is applied by force when necessary.
The Pence’s arrangement is a deeply personal expression of their faith. The vice president is not insisting this agreement be required for everyone else, as Sharia does.
A writer for the Vancouver Sun, Ashley Csanady, believes that Pence’s determination to remain faithful is really a manifestation of “rape culture at work.” She also contends the fact this is a principle of Pence’s Christian faith does not matter. Apparently, her opinion is that the vice president is required to check his faith at the door of his office.
Moreover, the criticism has been ramped up to a level of legality. Vox ran a story that claimed this practice of fidelity is “probably” against the law. The story conflated voluntary marital arrangements with Title VII rules under employment discrimination law. The piece essentially claimed that this would violate the law by denying women employment opportunities. Is Pence wrong about his fidelity and breaking the law at the same time?
The assumption behind the criticism is flawed. The author assumes that private meetings and dinners with persons of the opposite sex are absolutely necessary to perform the functions of the vice presidency. How is this so? Are there really situations where the vice president cannot have at least one other person present at any meeting?
One might ask, what about Pence meeting with a female head of state in a sensitive security situation? Even in such a situation, at least one other person could be present, such as a chief of staff or security personnel. In fact, that would probably be the minimum requirement for any vice president, as well as for any head of state at the meeting.
Another writer breathlessly complained the Pence’s marital safeguards, born of deep faith and commitment, could possibly deny White House “photo-ops” to women in the future. That seems unlikely, however dire the possibility of denying photo-ops might appear to some.
For one thing, there hardly seems to be an epidemic of photo-ops without at least one photographer present to take the picture. Besides, the Secret Service are present at every photo-op with the vice president. Photo-ops do not qualify as meetings alone with someone of the opposite sex.
Donald Trump has been excoriated because of offensive remarks he made years ago and chastised for his infidelity of the past. Therefore, in the critic’s mind, Trump does not respect or honor women.
Now, Pence is being vilified for his fidelity, which is supposed to mean that he also does not respect or honor women. Someone is confused when two opposite statements are both affirmed to be true.
Critics of the vice president and the second lady cannot have it both ways. The marital agreement to fidelity, and commitment to safeguard such fidelity in all possible ways, is either right or it is wrong. There is no middle ground of partial fidelity.
There are many substantive issues on which the vice president differs with his critics. A good, reasonable debate over these issues would be welcome and is needed in the nation today. Unreasonable arguments equating marital fidelity with immorality and illegality serve only to hinder going forward with that debate.
By Daniel Osborn
Edited by Cathy Milne
Townhall: Now the Left Thinks Pence’s Rule to Never Dine Alone With Women Besides His Wife Is Illegal
Vancouver Sun: Ashley Csanady: Mike Pence’s evangelical refusal to lunch with ladies is easy to mock. It’s also rape culture at work
The Washington Post: Karen Pence is the vice president’s ‘prayer warrior,’ gut check and shield
The Washington Post: Mike Pence and the temptresses
Vox: Vice President Pence’s “never dine alone with a woman” rule isn’t honorable. It’s probably illegal.
Top and featured image courtesy of Michael Vadon’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License