Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Pretense Of Pence

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence (R-Muncie) has been quite the master at dining and cajoling news reporters into writing puffy pieces about his service for our country (and God). Hardly a week passes without someone writing a story about how Pence is a rising star in the Republican Party, and how he is being encouraged to run for House Majority Leader or some other high up leadership position.

Of course, Pence always manages to work his conservative religious views into every public policy debate that arises, ever endearing himself to the Christian right. In a refreshing and revealing look at Pence, Indianapolis Star columnist Dan Carpenter takes the holier-than-thou politician to task in a column entitled, “Leastwise, that’s how I see it.”

Carpenter writes of Pence: “Last week, upon reading the latest laudatory article in this paper about U.S. Rep. Mike Pence and his prospects for greater glory, I got to thinking about one of my favorite Bible passages. Pence, you see, perhaps more than anyone else in our most righteous Republican congressional delegation, wears his religion like a gleaming coat of armor against the slings and arrows of naysayers. I once heard him answer a question about his ambitions for higher office by saying that decision was in the hands of a higher power.”

Carpenter, with tongue and cheek, questions Pence’s support of cuts in social programs, while supporting ever greater defense spending, and the apparent clash of his social views with the Gospels of the New Testament. “Talk about a penalty for picking yachts over food stamps. The Savior didn't say a word about abortion or gay marriage, but he sure made it clear what a Christian's priorities are in what we now call the human services realm,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter argues that “so-called Christian conservatives like Pence can't have it both ways. They can't call for a Christianized government and leave the least of the citizenry to the whims of the so-called free market and these untaxed ‘faith-based’ enterprises, while government serves the lobbying and check-writing elite. The rich will never squeeze into heaven if you don't lighten their pockets.”

The self-righteous Pence is no doubt going to be unhappy with Carpenter’s column. It’s not a part of his otherwise well-scripted plan of convincing us that he is someone he is most certainly not. Carpenter appropriately challenges the fallacy of wrapping yourself in the Bible as Pence does. You can’t pick and choose which pieces of the loaf you choose to eat; you have to take the whole loaf, with the good and bad.

No comments: