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Pence is Dense
Author: TriSec    Date: 02/10/2018 13:55:27

Good Morning.

It's my favourite biennial time of the year!


Having attended the 1976 games in Montreal as a young boy, the Olympiad has long held a certain fascination with me. Following it over the years, I've long watched the pomp and circumstance, and maybe have come to understand some of the etiquette and protocol involved.

Which is why I'm somewhat perturbed by the actions of the Vice President. We'll start with the most obvious slight, as it was there for all to see.

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- A White House official said Vice President Mike Pence and the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un did not interact despite being seated just feet apart during the Olympic opening ceremony. Pence was seated between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The dictator's sister, Kim Yo Jong, and the country's 90-year-old nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, were seated a row behind.

The White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Pence stood only for the U.S. team, despite other people in the box standing and applauding when athletes from the two Koreas walked in together. The games are taking place amid an international standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons.

This isn't necessarily a breach of protocol, as he only stood up for the US Team, and no other national teams. But given the high stakes of these games and the politics behind them, this can only be seen as a slight through Asian eyes. But that's only one of many incidents yesterday. Mr. Pence left a reception like a petulant child because North Korea was there.

According to BBC, the vice president, who at one point said he might consider meeting with North Korean officials during his time in South Korea, also skipped an Olympic dinner, where he was "due to share a table with North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam."

Mr. Pence and Kim Yong-nam were being hosted by (South Korea) President Moon (Jae-in) before the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang.

But the U.S. vice-president left the reception venue after five minutes, South Korea's Yonhap said.

While Mr. Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe both shook hands with Mr. Kim, Mr. Pence did not, South Korean officials said.

But I find the most egregious breach of protocol to be this. Mr. Pence didn't travel to the Olympics alone; of course he brought a prop with him. Fred Warmbier, the father of the deceased Otto Warmbier, tagged along as Mr. Pence's eye-candy during the pomp and circumstance surrounding the opening ceremony. Of course, they met with some North Korean defectors, in an orchestrated display of raw meat for their base.

Vice President Mike Pence met with North Korean defectors Friday as he uses his appearance at the Winter Olympics to call on the international community to grow tougher on North Korea’s nuclear program and human rights abuses.

Eager to put a reality check on the thaw in relations between the two Koreas ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Pence met with four North Korean defectors, some of whom have been tortured and abused.

Pence was accompanied by his wife Karen Pence, and special guest Fred Warmbier, whose son Otto Warmbier died after his release from captivity in North Korea.

The death of the Wyoming High School graduate under mysterious circumstances this year devastated a family, riveted Greater Cincinnati and the nation - and generated geopolitical waves that could nudge the United States and North Korea toward nuclear war.

During the meeting, Pence warned that the world would see “a charm offensive by North Korea” Friday. “But today we thought it was important to make sure the truth is told.”

“As these people and their lives testify, it is a regime that imprisons, and tortures, and impoverishes its citizens,” he added.

There is no doubt that the concerns raised are legitimate, but essentially shaming your host on the world stage is not the way to bring attention to the issues - this actually highlights the United States as an uncultured boor among nations.

And just to compare - I was quite surprised to see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the event last night. It is unusual for heads of state other than the host nation to attend the Olympics. Even more so, since Southeast Asian nations all have one thing in common. We were all invaded by Japan during WWII, and we all bear grudges. Nevertheless, Mr. Abe did it all right...waving, standing, and cheering where appropriate and seemingly having a grand old time while doing it.

Mr. Pence.....couldn't even enjoy the event.


Bill Maher questions whether Vice President Mike Pence is actually having fun at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

On Friday’s broadcast of “Real Time,” the comedian joked about the games being a “great thing” where “all nations can come together.” “Even the shithole countries,” he added.

But Maher wondered whether Pence, who is representing President Donald Trump’s administration at the games, was really enjoying himself.

“He’s there now, doesn’t like it,” said Maher. “Foreigners playing in the snow, it’s you know. He doesn’t want to see Mexicans on ice, he wants to see ICE on Mexicans.”


1 comments (Latest Comment: 02/10/2018 17:06:08 by Will in Chicago)
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Comment by Will in Chicago on 02/10/2018 17:06:08
I live in Northwest Indiana - the part of the state closest to Chicago (Hammond borders the South Side of Chicago on its northern edges) geographically and culturally. Most of the rest of the state thinks of us as Chicagoans. Heck, Republican Senator Todd Young does not even have an office here -- the nearest ones are over two hours away.

Mike Pence struck me as a cold, insensitive man determined to enforce his political and religious beliefs on others. He ignored an AIDS outbreak in one part of Indiana for fear that a needle exchange program was morally incorrect -- even though he ultimately improved it after more HIV infections.

As much as I loathed the administration of George W. Bush, he at least had some people who were familiar with governmental and diplomatic norms. Now we have an administration which views offending others as a birthright, viewing entire categories of humans as lesser beings than themselves, and may ultimately weaken the country that Trump and Pence claim to love. Their policies may prove disastrous for the U.S. and the world.