Mike Pence

Mike Pence’s Fugue State

Indiana Governor Mike Pence appears to have been walking around in a fugue state for the last week. Somewhere between my empathy and my thirst for comeuppance lies a certain curiosity about what it must be like to be in his shoes these days. His world – or at least his political world – has turned upside down and back again in record time.

Between his bumbling appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos and his wheezing press conference the following day, the governor has received more national attention than he has ever dreamed of having, most of which has been exceedingly negative.

Pence is certainly no political neophyte. Far from it. He is what most observers would refer to as a seasoned politician. So why, then, has he appeared to be at such a loss for a solution to his (and Indiana’s) mounting public relations nightmare?

The most logical hypothesis is that he has managed to surround himself for years with people who either agree with his positions or who are politic enough not to challenge them too sharply.

The positions he has taken and the values he has held have generally fallen on the spectrum somewhere between conservative and off-the-charts right wing. This is particularly evident when you review his record on LGBT issues.

  • In 2006, he voted in favor of a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage
  • In 2007, he voted No on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act while in Congress
  • In 2010, he voted No on President Obama’s proposed repeal of DADT, arguing that “unit cohesion” would be affected.

It’s not just LGBT issues where he’s taken the most right-leaning positions. He’s voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and he opposed a similar state act in Indiana.

While there may have been viewpoints expressed that were different from his own, Pence pretty much skated by both in Congress and as Governor without having too much opposition aimed directly at him.

Suddenly this week, Pence faced genuine pushback – both in Indiana and across the country – the likes of which he’s never experienced after signing the state’s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, surrounded by a gaggle of nuns and his most devotedly anti-LGBT cronies. To say that he reacted to that pushback like a deer in the headlights drastically underestimates headlights.

He first denied that the bill had anything to do with discrimination, and then spun on his heels almost immediately to request that the law be changed.  On Thursday of this week, Pence signed the hastily cobbled-together amended version of the RFRA, under an even more secret veil of secrecy than he had signed the original version.

It remains to be seen how much additional blowback he’ll face and how much more political capital he’ll lose. But one thing is certain: even if he regains his equilibrium, his political world will never be quite the same.

Revenge of the Right

If you think that dislike for Mitt Romney comes exclusively from the left, a quick gambol around the internet will provide you with some pretty extreme hatred of Romney from the right.

For many in Massachusetts, Romney’s term as governor left a really bad taste in their mouths because of failed promises and his abysmal jobs record.  But for at least one Bay Stater, Romney was far too liberal:

I’m particularly fond of her criticism of Romney’s CPAC speech.  In Romney’s attempts to be all things to all people, he spoke at CPAC.  Liberals questioned his blatant pandering to the uber-conservatives.  But for the uber-conservatives, he just wasn’t conservative enough; there were apparently about ten or twelve litmus tests that he just didn’t pass.

And check out this video.  Contrada apparently holds Romney responsible for everything  from every initiative the Massachusetts Department of Social Services took during his term to what the lesbians were wearing during the pride parades:

Whew.  I had no idea any politician had that much power.

Then there are the religious doomsayers.  Literally.  It’s kind of hard to tell if they’re serious or if they’re just being hucksters and trying to sell books and DVDs:

This kind of  hawking of wares is worthy of Newt Gingrich.

So far, I don’t think that anyone on the left has claimed that Romney is Satan. Attribution of demonic traits to a candidate is generally the purview of the right, but this site pulls no punches:

For the author of this site, even Pat Robertson, Sean Hannity, and James Dobson are not crazy enough for his taste, because they’ve endorsed Mitt Romney.  It’s clear that Romney’s religion is still a significant barrier for some.

There’s one more site that’s a compendium of all things Mitt in Massachusetts (at least, from the ultra-right-wing perspective):

According to these folks, the problem on issues like gay rights, abortion rights, and health care isn’t that he’s too far to the right.  It’s that he’s too far to the left!  Glad we got that cleared up.

With all the focus on the economy, I wonder if these issues will even register at the polls.

Liberals, women, the LGBT community, and racial minorities  have all to often been on the receiving end of this kind of hatred from the radical right.  But it’s instructive to know that someone as extremely to the right as Mitt Romney can be the target of folks like this.

It’s just more proof that, in the last couple of decades, the left has moved right, and the right has moved even farther right.

Suffer the Little Children

The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana, is today’s winner for purveying hatred in the name of religion. I don’t think there are any Grammy’s in their future, but they have put together an original song, with a new child star.

Could this be the next Rick Santorum? (He’s already got the sweater vest.) Was indoctrination like this the cause of the current Rick Santorum? We may never know.

Note the congregation cheering and clapping at the success they’ve had teaching their children to hate. Lemmings? Sheep? You decide.

NAACP: Equal Equals Equal

In a somewhat surprising move, the NAACP passed a historic resolution endorsing marriage equality.

President and CEO Benjamin Jealous made the following statement:

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.”

Although the endorsement carries no specific legislative weight, the significance of the largest and arguably best known civil rights organization in the nation making such an endorsement can’t be ignored, particularly since there has been such disparity in polling numbers between the black community and the community at large when asked about marriage equality.

Opposition among blacks is often attributed to black churches.  The text of the NAACP’s resolution addresses that opposition in a somewhat roundabout way:

“The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the ‘political, educational, social and economic equality’ of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.”

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