Pence’s mar­riage deal shocks elite, elates con­ser­va­tives

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARD­SON

In the city where Bill Clin­ton and An­thony Weiner made names for them­selves, con­ser­va­tives aren’t sur­prised by the sound and fury over Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s com­mit­ment to his mar­riage.

Elites in Hol­ly­wood and the Belt­way were shocked to learn that the vice pres­i­dent doesn’t dine alone with women or at­tend par­ties where al­co­hol is served with­out his wife.

Tony Perkins, pres­i­dent of the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil, said the neg­a­tive re­ac­tion to Mr. Pence’s fi­delity is fur­ther ev­i­dence of the cul­tural di­vide on dis­play dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial race.

“If the worst thing peo­ple can say about Mike Pence is that he’s a good husband, then he’s ac­com­plished some­thing very few politi­cians have,” Mr. Perkins wrote in his weekly “Washington Up­date” news­let­ter. “Un­for­tu­nately, we live in a day and age when mar­riage is rarely revered — in def­i­ni­tion or prac­tice — so the idea that the vice pres­i­dent would take in­ten­tional steps to pro­tect his own has ap­par­ently come as a shock to some of the elit­ist me­dia.”

He said Amer­i­cans have been “con­di­tioned to ex­pect sex­ual scan­dal in Washington.”

Known as the Billy Gra­ham Rule, the prac­tice of mar­ried men and women avoid­ing be­ing left alone with a mem­ber of an­other sex is not un­com­mon in Evan­gel­i­cal house­holds, but was widely ridiculed as an­ti­quated and even misog­y­nis­tic by co­me­di­ans and fem­i­nists.

“Daily Show” host Trevor Noah drew a par­al­lel be­tween how the vice pres­i­dent treats women and how women are treated in the Is­lamic world.

“They spend all their time bash­ing Mus­lims, right, for how they treat women,” Mr. Noah said on his show Mon­day. “Yet, they seem to be per­fectly fine over here with Shariah Mike, whose go­ing like, ‘No women alone with me one-on-one.’”

Galen Sher­win, se­nior staff at­tor­ney at the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, said the vice pres­i­dent is guilty of “dis­crim­i­na­tion un­der the guise of chivalry.”

“Of all the shockingly ret­ro­grade views about gen­der that the past year has brought us, a top con­tender is the rev­e­la­tion of Mike Pence’s pol­icy of re­fus­ing to dine with women un­less his wife is present,” Ms. Sher­win wrote Thurs­day on the ACLU’s “Speak Freely” blog.

She said the prac­tice “de­prives fe­male em­ploy­ees of crit­i­cal op­por­tu­ni­ties for net­work­ing, men­tor­ing, and face time.”

“As for Vice Pres­i­dent Pence, if his pol­icy of ex­clud­ing, blam­ing, and sham­ing women is re­flected in ei­ther White House em­ploy­ment prac­tices or ed­u­ca­tional pol­icy ini­tia­tives, we may well see him in court,” Ms. Sher­win wrote.

But other women found the prac­tice re­fresh­ing — es­pe­cially in a town in­fa­mous for politi­cians cheat­ing on their spouses.

Jede­diah Bila, co-host of ABC’s “The View,” said the Washington crowd should fol­low the vice pres­i­dent’s ex­am­ple, not mock it.

“Walk into these bars in D.C. Look at a happy hour among politi­cians. And you know the his­tory of politi­cians that cheat on their wives, that cheat on their hus­bands,” Ms. Bila said. “I think it’s nice to see some­one say, ‘Look, if you want to get ahead, let’s do it in a pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment. You’re not go­ing to com­pro­mise my fam­ily or my val­ues.’”

“He’s say­ing if you want to work with me, you can work in the office,” she said. “You don’t have to work over drinks.”

Sev­eral women who worked for the vice pres­i­dent have also come out in sup­port of their for­mer boss.

Ericka An­der­sen, who worked for Mr. Pence when he was chair­man of the House Repub­li­can Cau­cus, said the for­mer con­gress­man did “noth­ing but great things for my ca­reer.”

“When the me­dia went crazy last week about the 2002 com­ment Pence made about never din­ing alone with women, I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about,” Ms. An­der­sen wrote ear­lier this week at Na­tional Re­view. “I had heard of Pence’s rule when I started worked for him in 2009 and thought noth­ing of it. It seemed like a great way to avoid the per­cep­tion of in­ap­pro­pri­ate­ness. With gos­sip and re­porters float­ing around ev­ery cor­ner of Capi­tol Hill (and else­where), ex­tra pre­cau­tion seemed pru­dent.”

With nearly half of all mar­riages in the U.S. end­ing in di­vorce, Mr. Perkins said “the Pences chose wis­dom.”

“These days,” he said, “I sup­pose the sim­plest moral­ity is the most con­found­ing for lib­er­als.”


Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence won’t dine with alone with women or at­tend par­ties where al­co­hol is served un­less his wife, Karen, is present at the event. This ar­range­ment has shocked some in me­dia and Hol­ly­wood cir­cles. Crit­ics call it ret­ro­grade and sex­ist. Sup­port­ers say Mr. Pence is hon­or­ing his vows.

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