One short paragraph in that story has seized the attention of the world:
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.
Reaction was swift and, to me, surprising:
In a profile of second lady Karen Pence published Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Vice President Mike Pence once said he didn’t dine alone with women other than his wife or attend events with alcohol if she wasn’t there. Pence apparently told The Hill about that practice in 2002, when he was representing Indiana in Congress. The Post’s detailing of Pence’s devotion to his wife, whom he married in 1985, drew scrutiny to the gendered dynamics of their relationship and his politics.
Reacting to the uproar, The Atlantic’s Emma Green, remarks, “The dust-up shows how radically notions of gender divide American culture.” She notes that Pence’s practice is not shocking in light of his religious background and points out that Bill Graham also abided by such a rule as an evangelist in the public sphere. On the other hand, Green observes, “That idea might seem disorienting to more socially progressive Americans.”
Andrew Exum, also writing for The Atlantic, says, “I have to confess: As a present Calvinist and as a former management consultant, I find this all exhilarating.” He acknowledges that the practice warrants controversy but does defend the couple’s choice. “The Pences, at the very least, seem to have a healthy understanding of their own weaknesses. And that’s something to which we should all aspire,” asserts Exum.
Charles C. W. Cooke at The National Review finds that Tuesday’s story positively reflected Pence’s commitment to his wife. He says, “There’s a decency at play there. There’s a humility, too. Good for the vice-president. He’s made his vows, and he’s sure as hell gonna keep ’em.”
Others criticized Pence’s rule as sexist:
Evangelist Billy Graham followed a similar rule, not traveling, meeting or eating with another woman alone. It is sometimes referred to as “The Billy Graham Rule.” The practice is still common among many evangelicals.
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