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Karen Celestino-Horseman: The trouble with Pence’s ‘Mother, may I?’ rules

August 24, 2018

Celestino-HorsemanOh, my! Yesterday I received an email from Mike Pence and he wants to meet me and a guest of my choice at a dinner he is hosting in Houston. I only need donate as little as $3 to be automatically entered to win this dinner!

Last night, I was apparently thinking about this email when I went to bed because I dreamed that I won!

I could find no one willing to be my guest (imagine that), so I went alone. We met at the restaurant. Pence was alone (the Secret Service agents had to run the car through the car wash and then pick up a few things for Mrs. Pence—or “Mother,” as he calls her). As we sat down at the table, we both slowly realized there were just the two us, alone together, a man and a woman at a dining table in a public restaurant. Panic stricken, he exclaimed, “Begone, woman! You cannot sit at this table without Mother!”

Pence was referring to the dining rule—the rule that says Mike Pence cannot dine alone with any woman other than his wife. Pence and his wife follow the dining rule and the alcohol rule (he will not attend events without his wife where alcohol is served) because it “builds a zone around” their marriage. In Pence’s words, “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.”

What a bizarre thing to say. Does he expect his wife to stand in front of him, and in Wonder Woman fashion, use her magic bracelets to repel the lecherous thoughts that apparently wander through his mind when he sees other women? Or, is he saying that, if it gets wild and crazy, he will not be throwing his keys into the bowl because he is going home with the one that brung him?

Mr. Vice President, why not just say no? Isn’t that what you advocate to young people contemplating sex (as in, Forget the birth control—just say no!).

Being a lawyer, I cannot help but think of the various scenarios that must confront the Pences while living by these rules. For example, is it OK to eat with a woman if a third party is present, except if it is in a restaurant where alcohol is served?

Or, let’s assume that Trump is impeached, and Pence becomes president. Does this mean Mother must travel with him to every foreign state dinner where alcohol is served? Or, what if the prime minister of England, Theresa May, needs to speak confidentially with President Pence? Do we need to get Mother top-secret clearance?

Quite honestly, this is where the Pence rules piss me off. As a lawyer, if I cannot meet confidentially with my client, away from the eyes and ears of others, I cannot properly do my job. Any potential male client who cannot meet with me alone without his wife present is telling me he can’t hire me because I am a woman. And that, my friends, is wrong—perhaps legally and most certainly morally.

So how did my dream end? Well, the maitre d’ came rushing over to tell us there was an error and it was RuPaul, not me, who had won the opportunity to dine with the vice president. I turned to look and there was the beautiful RuPaul, glittering in an evening dress and heels. RuPaul looked at me and winked, saying to Vice President Pence, “So, darling, what’s the rule now?”•

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Celestino-Horseman is an attorney and represents the Indiana Latino Democratic Caucus on the Democratic State Central Committee. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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