The Leftist Attacks on Pence’s Moral Guidelines Are a Denial of Human Nature

The leftist response to the Pences' personal rule reveals a glaring blind spot when it comes to self-awareness.

By Michael Brown Published on April 4, 2017

The left’s bizarre and almost hysterical reaction to Vice President Pence’s marital guidelines is not only off point. It misses the most essential point of all. Namely, that it’s Pence’s high esteem for women — and for the most important woman in his life, his own wife — that fuels his moral choices. At the same time, the leftist response reveals a glaring lack of self-awareness.

Uproar Over Pence’s Personal Rule

The uproar began last week when the Washington Post published Ashley Parker’s article, “Karen Pence is the vice president’s ‘prayer warrior,’ gut check and shield.”

The title of this article points to the key role Karen Pence plays in her husband’s life. You might think that would draw praise from feminists and leftists. But no. The article drew rabid responses, including Laura Chapin’s call at US News to “lock him up” (seriously).

Most of the criticism focused on one revelation. “In 2002,” Parker wrote, “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.”

Chapin, a Democratic strategist, responded with this rant:

Then lock him up. Because if your only concept of women is whether you want to have sex with them, something is seriously wrong with you. It presumes women exist only in terms of how men define and perceive them, without autonomy or self-determination. Women exist solely for procreation, which is to be determined and directed by men.

Memo to Mike Pence and the other right-wing men: Women come in more categories than prey and invisible. And none of them want to have sex with you.

Still breathing fire, she concluded her article with this: “Whether Pence is in a room with a single woman is silly but irrelevant. What matters is the millions of American women, and women abroad, to whom his retrograde beliefs and policies pose a threat.” (She was also referring here to the fact that “Pence broke a tie in the Senate to OK legislation allowing states to bar Planned Parenthood from getting public health grants.”)

The Criticism Kept Coming

Not to be outdone, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal tweeted, “The calling card of all religious fundamentalism: terror of women.” He referenced the tweet of Danish journalist Martin Burcharth: “How differrent [sic] is VP from Orthodox Muslim men? Mike Pence doesn’t eat alone with women.”

On my own Twitter feed, Susan wrote, “Christians will criticize Muslim women for wearing hijabs, but Pence would exclude their presence altogether. That oppression is OK though.”

Over at Vox, attorney Joanna L. Grossman opined that “the practice described by Pence in that 2002 interview is clearly illegal when practiced by a boss in an employment setting, and deeply damaging to women’s employment opportunities.”

Also at Vox, in more moderate tones, a female, evangelical university professor suggested that “good character is better than strict rules,” as if the two had to be in conflict. To the contrary, good character often results in strict rules, although strict rules alone hardly produce good character.

In truth, Mike Pence is exercising good, old-fashioned common sense that is all too rare these days.

Human Beings Get Tempted

Pence sees that it’s easy for human beings to fall into temptation. He made clear that he’s seen all too many marriages destroyed during his years in politics. He said:

I’ve lost more elections than I’ve won. I’ve seen friends lose their families. I’d rather lose an election. … Little old ladies come and say, ‘Honey, whatever you need to do, keep your family together.’”

What happens when you spend more time with a woman other than your wife? What happens when you share your victories and sorrows with someone other than your spouse? What happens when you put in late hours together, behind closed doors, leaning on one other for support? (One of Pence’s guidelines was never to work late alone with a female aid.)

Many affairs begin with an emotional attachment rather than a physical attachment.

The reality is that many, if not most affairs, begin with an emotional attachment rather than a physical attachment. 

And let’s remember that Pence is not just protecting himself and his wife Karen. He’s also protecting the women who work for him. Some might grow attached to him and fall into the same dangerous cycle. (If I recall, President Clinton had a bit of a problem with one of his female interns.)

And just imagine what could happen if Pence was accused of sexual impropriety. As one of my Twitter followers observed, “The same liberals would be quick to judge and condemn him if he were to be involved in a sexual act outside of his marriage.”

Looking in the Mirror is Painful

Given all of this, why do so many on the left object to Pence’s rules? Are marriages so solid that safeguards aren’t needed? Is there a need to increase adultery in America? Should we declare war on fidelity?

As Frank Camp wrote on the Daily Wire:

Elected officials in Washington, D.C. are just as flawed as any other human being. Additionally, men and women in positions of power are more frequently the target of unwanted advances, unsubstantiated accusations, and tabloid speculation. Given the environment in which elected officials live, the limitations Pence applies to himself are admirable and prudent.

Camp is right. I for one am glad to have guard rails on the sides of mountainous roads. Or, for that matter, concrete medians in the center of a six-lane highways). And the most conscientious drivers are the first to put on their seat belts. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Or, in the words of the apostle Paul, “Let him who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

That’s just what Mike Pence has done. He knows that overconfidence can kill. Many on the left, perhaps in denial of human sin, must concoct a different story for Pence’s guidelines. Ironically, in so doing, they reveal an aspect of our fallen nature, namely, our tendency to deceive ourselves about who we really are.

Sometimes it’s hard to look in the mirror.

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