The Jury Talks Back


Mike And Karen Pence Sound Like They Have A Rock Solid Marriage. Why Is That So Offensive?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 8:06 am

[guest post by Dana]

[It irritates me that I am compelled to push back against something so ridiculous. And what annoys me even more is the continuing case of the vapors from which the left side of the aisle suffers. For God sake, stop being such a bunch of little girls!]

On Wednesday, The Washington Post published a profile of Vice-president Pence’s wife, Karen Pence. Readers were able to catch glimpse of a steadfast woman who consistently puts her faith and family first. The picture of Mrs. Pence also revealed the high level of regard in which the Pences hold their 32-year marriage. And each other.

However, the portion of the profile that is causing a flurry of hysteria, is this:

In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that 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.

The writer of the profile, Ashley Parker, also tweeted this to point readers to her story.

Now let’s look at the actual quote in context:

During his 12 years in Congress, Pence had rules to avoid any infidelity temptations, or even rumors of impropriety. Those included requiring that any aide who had to work late to assist him be male, never dining alone with a woman other than his wife, and not attending an event where alcohol is served unless Karen was there.

In a 2002 interview with The Hill, Pence called it, “building a zone around your marriage.”

“If there’s alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me,” Pence said.

Okay, now let’s look at the reaction of Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief of Mother Jones. One reason I selected her response(s) from a slew of similar responses because hers covered the same territory in one long rant. Amusingly, I’m fairly certain Jeffery believes her response(s) to be logical and reasonable, while I see them as ignorant, knee-jerk and just a bit embarrassing: Untitled

Shorter Jeffrey: How dare Mike Pence honor his marriage and honor his wife.

This just doesn’t seem hard to me: A couple marries. They have promised to remain faithful to one another. They come up with a plan to help each other hold up their end of the bargain because they understand the human condition and challenges of marriage. It might not be your plan, but it’s their plan, and anyone who values marriage should be cheering them on. This is an investment in their future, and their children’s future. Even society at large benefits from stable marriages. This safeguarding is also an investment that will pay off in massive dividends of happiness for all parties involved. But if the method which Mike and Karen Pence have chosen to guard their marriage with doesn’t work for you, then fine, do something else. Just remember, it’s the fool who believes their own marriage won’t be tested at some point in time. However, at the end of the day, it’s really none of anyone’s damn business how the Pences run their marriage, so perhaps the naysayers and critics should butt out and focus on making sure their own marriages are secure.

Another reason I selected Jeffery’s response(s) is because she clearly demonstrates how a large segment of the country continues to be fairly ignorant about the evangelical community, and what Christians (and Conservatives) value. In this setting, the Pence’s risk management strategy is not at all strange or unusual. This making a conscious decision to pro-actively protect and maintain a sacred covenant made between a couple and God is pretty standard fare. As Aaron Blake put it over at The Fix:

If nothing else, the commentary from the left about Parker’s tweet confirms the initial reactions of those on the right: that plenty of people in the United States simply don’t understand them and have dismissed them as Neanderthals — deplorables, even. The fact that this kind of arrangement is so foreign and unthinkable to some people in this country reinforces what separate worlds we live in.

I’m sure David and Nancy French would agree. They also were treated in a fashion similar to the Pences when their own risk-management strategies put in place during David French’s deployment to Iraq were misrepresented and mocked by the usual suspects.

It’s mind-boggling that people who certainly know better, want us to believe that Washington D.C., the ultimate hub of power and money, is a scandal-free zone. In that town, one doesn’t even have to be having an illicit relationship to find themselves smeared on the covers of the The New York Times and The Washington Post . Thus it only seems wise for any married individual in any position of power, to be mindful of their actions with the opposite sex and give no opportunity for gossip or rumor, or for an insatiable media to zero in on a small nothing and make it into a big something. (Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant.)

Finally, in this honest look at our human frailties, fidelity, and honoring one’s marriage, noted author and icon of the left, Ta-Nehisi Coates demonstrates why it is wise to take steps to protect a marriage. Just like Mike Pence does.




  1. If Pence’s views were held by any Democrat, they would be lauded.

    Comment by Dana — 3/31/2017 @ 8:08 am

  2. This reminds me of Carter’s lust in his heart interview, and that wasn’t well-received either. But with these rules, how does Pence work with women executives and advisers?

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 8:15 am

  3. Working with them doesn’t have to mean dinner and drinks.

    Comment by Dana — 3/31/2017 @ 9:50 am

  4. Occasional lunches, dinners or drinks happen in business and politics. I’ve done it and so have others, and it is a problem to be eliminated from participating because of gender. I come from a time when women weren’t allowed to eat in private dining clubs, so I have personal knowledge how that can hurt a career.

    I understand why Pence and his wife don’t want that complication in their lives but it does freeze out women executives and advisers from an important part of business and political life.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 11:08 am

  5. Pence should apply his rules to everyone, men and women, so no one he deals with is at a disadvantage. That would be fair.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 11:20 am

  6. As a professor I have similar rules in place, especially in regards to my office. This isn’t uncommon or bizarre, except to those that have a naive view of human behavior.

    Comment by Sean — 3/31/2017 @ 11:40 am

  7. Ok, call me naive, but I know people in business and politics have working dinners. Should we prohibit them from playing golf, too?

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 12:03 pm

  8. What about gay guys. Are they excluded, too?

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 12:04 pm

  9. Doctors have brought nurses into examining rooms for years to protect themselves from female patients’ claims. I get the issue and the solution, but it does discriminate against women.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 12:06 pm

  10. The point is to not be left in a one-on-one situation with a member of the opposite sex (obviously your spouse or significant other is the exception here). You might not see a problem with that, but trust me, every year there is an allegation on campus from a female student about a male instructor that could have been avoided if they didn’t allow themselves to be put in that situation. And if that happens with frequency to nobody professors I can’t imagine the number of people that try to pull crap with public figures (and having interviewed several sports figures I know the smart ones have similar policies in place as well as horror stories involving the not-so-smart ones).

    Comment by Sean — 3/31/2017 @ 12:08 pm

  11. I understand your concern. Why not apply it to both sexes?

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 12:11 pm

  12. I understand the risks but do you understand the damage this solution does when you target only women?

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 12:13 pm

  13. When I was a lawyer in a law firm, should I have refused to meet with men alone when I traveled to other cities to meet with them as clients? When I traveled with a male attorney/client for trials or meetings, should I only eat room service or by myself to avoid all scandal?

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 12:18 pm

  14. Re-read the post. Pence won’t even work late with a woman. I would not have been a partner in a law firm if all men did thus. Do you realize how many times attorneys have to work all night with a co-worker to do closings, get ready for trial, etc., and we can’t be the only people who do this.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 12:28 pm

  15. Think of this like Flynn wanting immunity to prevent a Scooter Libby-type incident. Libby didn’t leak Plame’s name, wasn’t even involved, but he got caught in a technicality and was sent to prison.

    Did you ever wonder how many of your co-workers might have assumed you staying at work late with another co-worker of the opposite sex meant you were sleeping together? Sure, it didn’t hurt YOU professionally, but I’ve seen instances where just the gossip alone was enough to sink someone’s reputation and eventually their job.

    Comment by Sean — 3/31/2017 @ 2:25 pm

  16. People often assume the worse and won’t attempt to get the facts before prejudging someone. Others will act maliciously if they think they can score points, or use the opportunity to get back at someone for whatever real, fake, or petty reasons they believe justify their actions. Protecting yourself from every being put in a situation where such a thing can damage you personally and professionally is just smart. It might not make your job easy, and you may not be able to make it work with an employer, but if you can there is nothing wrong in doing so.

    Comment by Sean — 3/31/2017 @ 2:28 pm

  17. I understand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told the rules are different when it comes to women in the workforce.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 2:45 pm

  18. If you have any daughters, please tell them for me that they don’t have to be different.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 2:47 pm

  19. You don’t have to discriminate to protect yourself.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 2:47 pm

  20. DRJ, you know what I call a man who does not protect himself as described? A moron. I’ve seen a friend of mine spend a year unemployed because of an accusation of harassment at the workplace. And another colleague of mine at a local university where I was an adjunct was denied tenure because of an accusation by a female student – even though the accusation dated the incident to a semester, the entire length of which he was not even on campus.

    Comment by SPQR — 3/31/2017 @ 2:52 pm

  21. Where did I say don’t protect yourself? Do it to everyone, male and female. Frankly, I think it’s stupid to only protect yourself from claims made by women.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 5:15 pm

  22. But if you are going to target women and not men, that’s unfair and stupid.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 5:17 pm

  23. As the parent of sons, I have warned them of all the things being said here. But if it makes sense to avoid questioning or compromising situations, then avoid them all.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/31/2017 @ 5:19 pm

  24. It’s all really simple. Clara Jeffery is angry because she’s jealous. No man in her life, probably not even her father has had such regard for her.

    Comment by Bill H — 3/31/2017 @ 6:14 pm

  25. [It irritates me that I am compelled to push back against something so ridiculous. And what annoys me even more is the continuing case of the vapors from which the left side of the aisle suffers. For God sake, stop being such a bunch of little girls!]

    Dana, the left is trying various wedges, looking for one that won’t splinter under pressure. This won’t be it.

    Comment by Bill H — 3/31/2017 @ 6:20 pm

  26. My husband is in a position where he is working with women. He does not go out to eat with them alone or work late alone with them. To be fair he doesn’t work alone late with men either, he simply works late alone or brings it home. He is known to take conference calls or skype instead of working alone at the office with a single person. Groups, no problem.

    Why? Out of respect for ME and our marriage.

    And on the flip side I do not go out to eat alone with a man, or travel alone with a man. Why? Out of respect for my HUSBAND.

    This is our agreement with each other for the safety and preservation of our relationship. First off let there be no appearance of evil. Secondly let there be no occasion for failure. Don’t make it easy in other words. Thirdly don’t put another person at risk to do something stupid. And fourth… protect your reputation. While other people, both men and women in my husband’s company have been accused of sexual harassment or improper relations (some true, some not) my husband has not and I can credit his adherence to our pact to protect our marriage of 39 years as part of his clean record and reputation.

    My husband is also known to open doors for women and walk them to their cars if they are going to the parking garage alone when it is dark. Some people think that is discriminatory also and demeaning toward women. Bull. I don’t take those people’s opinion to heart as they obviously don’t understand old fashioned politeness and chivalry not driven by political correctness.

    People can poo-poo it all they want and claim discrimination all they want but I say good for Pence for knowing what is important in his life. I for one applaud it.

    Comment by Marci — 3/31/2017 @ 7:35 pm

  27. But if you are going to target women and not men, that’s unfair and stupid.

    No, its reality. And “targeting” is a bizarre verb to employ, women are not the “target” in any sense at all.

    Comment by SPQR — 3/31/2017 @ 10:49 pm

  28. I’ve had many a lunch with a woman alone. Dinner, rarely, but I can remember a time when that happened too. Most of these people are also friends of Mrs. P., and co-workers. The key is not to do anything that makes your spouse uncomfortable. If any proposed such lunch or dinner had that effect on Mrs. P. I would call it off. Has not happened yet.

    Comment by Patterico — 3/31/2017 @ 11:55 pm

  29. No, its reality. And “targeting” is a bizarre verb to employ, women are not the “target” in any sense at all.

    Maybe not “bizarre” so much as a characterization with which you disagree.

    Comment by Patterico — 3/31/2017 @ 11:57 pm

  30. No, its reality. And “targeting” is a bizarre verb to employ, women are not the “target” in any sense at all.

    If women aren’t the target, then I’m sure you and Pence will have no problem applying this to men as well as women. Not only should you avoid being with members of the opposite sex but the same sex, too. If women aren’t the target, why not avoid dining with men and women?

    Comment by DRJ — 4/1/2017 @ 3:03 am

  31. Marci,

    Pence can do what he wants and so can you, but I hope you can see this has an impact on women in the workforce who want to be managers, professionals, executives and leaders. Policies like Pence’s give men an advantage in getting promotions since working late and working through meals is what you have to do in those types of jobs.

    I have no oroblem if the rule is applied equally. Don’t let any two people work late alone or dine alone.

    Comment by DRJ — 4/1/2017 @ 3:12 am

  32. That didn’t make sense, although you probably guessed what I meant. I should have said: I have no problem if the rule is applied equally. Don’t let any two people work late together or dine together.

    Comment by DRJ — 4/1/2017 @ 5:16 am

  33. Given Pence’s reputation as a stalwart conservative Christian male, and the delight a lot of progressives take in attacking the sexual integrity of that particular type of individual, he should probably be somewhat concerned about allegations of sexual impropriety from males as much as females. If the concern is false allegations of sexual impropriety, those allegations can be falsified just as easily by a male as a female, and to the scandalized delight of more jackals.

    Of course, what DRJ is saying is absolutely correct, and more important. But Pence could kill two birds with one stone, even if he didn’t care about the equal rights bird.

    Comment by Leviticus — 4/1/2017 @ 9:26 am

  34. My daughter’s mother agrees with DRJ. She cannot see how Pence could mentor a woman with these restrictions.

    Comment by nk — 4/2/2017 @ 10:29 am

  35. It’s really something that Pence should not have made public in the first place, though. How he views his duty to his wife is between the two of them and nobody else.

    Comment by nk — 4/2/2017 @ 10:34 am

  36. @ Patterico,

    I’ve had many a lunch with a woman alone. Dinner, rarely, but I can remember a time when that happened too. Most of these people are also friends of Mrs. P., and co-workers. The key is not to do anything that makes your spouse uncomfortable. If any proposed such lunch or dinner had that effect on Mrs. P. I would call it off. Has not happened yet.

    Putting one’s spouse’s feelings about such an engagement is wise, and I think especially so as women can more easily discern when other women have less than honorable motives concerning their husbands.

    Comment by Dana — 4/2/2017 @ 11:48 am

  37. I would like to see this rule equally applied by those in positions of power-both male and female- because it would help stave off workplace catastrophes and subsequent disruption of workflow and employee confidence. Why not make it harder on those parties involved in this behavior for the good of everyone? If there was a sea change and it became standard practice in business communities, there wouldn’t be any gender disadvantages.

    Comment by Dana — 4/2/2017 @ 12:01 pm

  38. I think businesses and politicians should make their own rules but I agree that if they have rules like this, they should be applied equally. Otherwise there is a down-side for the targeted employees. Not every employer will be fair about the rules so it is important that they apply the rules equally to all employees.

    Comment by DRJ — 4/2/2017 @ 12:23 pm

  39. Further, I haven’t taken the time to look at the numbers, but given we are at a time when more women than ever are in management positions, are executives and leaders in the business sector, I wonder exactly how much a rule like Pence’s actually impacts women. Some of the complaints I’m reading make it seem like 1955 numbers, where a woman in a leadership position is very, very rare.

    Comment by Dana — 4/2/2017 @ 3:54 pm

  40. If you are an employee working for someone who is affected by a rule like this, it is 1955 for you unless it applies to all employees.

    Comment by DRJ — 4/2/2017 @ 5:21 pm

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