Vice President Mike Pence recently took a major trip abroad and it went about like you might expect when VP Pence and the Trump administration goes on a world tour.
First stop: London where he spoke at a black tie dinner on the domestic crisis over Britain’s withdrawal EU, saying the President was “shoulder to shoulder” with their Prime Minister, sparking controversy since about half the country is in opposition.
Then let’s travel to Iceland, where locals showed up flying gay pride flags to protest his presence- which was announced with a shocking amount of weaponry and security.
And Ireland, oh Ireland. He made and absolute mockery of himself and of the United States. He behaved garishly, and according to one Irish Times columnist who titled an article about the VP’s visit, “How Mike Pence shat on the new carpet in Ireland’s spare room.
Pence’s grandparents were immigrants from County Clare and County Sligo but he surely doesn’t seem to share any identification with the immigrants trying their best to become Americans during our time. Pence’s grandfather found refuge here in America, fleeing extreme poverty and violence but you won’t find Pence supporting immigration now. Rather, he is fiercely in line with anti-immigration policies put forth by the Trump administration.
Also making for embarrassing headlines across the world this week, the fact that Pence refused to stay in Dublin, instead opting to travel 180 miles from where his meetings were happening so he and his huge entourage could stay – on federal money, no less- in an expensive Trump golf resort. Fear not, House Dems are already on the trail, requesting the paperwork to investigate the legality of the stay.
His behavior aside, it was his comments regarding Brexit that made Miriam Lord refer to him as Trump’s untrained lapdog. Yikes.
“As Pence read from the autocue and Irish eyes definitely stopped smiling, it was clear he was channeling His Master’s Voice. Trump is a fan of Brexit and of Boris.”Miriam Lord
Of course “Boris” refers to disastrous British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as his efforts to enforce a “hard Brexit” to get a quick exit from the EU. This would reinstate the controlled border which had previously divided the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland- a division that occurred during the decades long period called The Troubles. The Troubles left thousands dead in a fight for the north’s status in the UK. Some fear that reinstating these terms of separation could restore the same type of atmosphere – along with the potentially deadly outcome- as The Troubles.
The Hard Brexit option is unpopular, but Pence instructed his hosts deal with Boris and “to negotiate in good faith” and to “respect for the UK’s sovereignty.” Clearly insensitive to Ireland’s past and the present feeling of the Irish people, Pence seemed to only please Trump and echo the stench of the Trump admin’s sentiments.
Again to quote Lord in her piece, Pence saw “an old Ireland, one his ancestors left generations ago” rather than the current climate. And in that old Ireland, it’s important to remember the setting: The Catholic Church reigned supreme, lording unrestrained abuse over thousands of children. Abortion was illegal. Gay marriage was illegal. Quite a different scenario from the current situation since the Irish have had the same sort of awakening we have experienced in much of America, condemning church abuse, legalizing abortion, and making marriage equality a reality.
Modern Ireland featured Taoiseach (Prime Ministir) Leo Varadkar who is a married gay man and a son of an Indian immigrant as greeter to conservative VP Pence, who is opposed to abortion and gay marriage.
Holding no punches, Lord referenced Pence’s bizarre refusal to dine alone with a woman OTHER than his wife and encouraged him to bring his mother with him on the trip, saying, “in an emergency…mammy could sit in as chaperone should the VP have found himself unavoidably alone in a dining room with our gay Taoiseach.”
Ireland may have been dominated by a strict church for years, but they have embraced equality with open arms, recently hosting a 10-day gay pride celebration. Police from Northern Ireland even joined in. And for good measure, Pence was welcomed by poet Sarah Clancy who held a big sign that said “Queers Against Pence.” She said in a report that she was thankful to live in “one of the most free countries in the world. I can protest Mike Pence’s visit, his inhumanity, racism and homophobia without fear of persecution or retribution.”
All these open statements- Clancy’s protests, Lord’s writing, columnist’ opinions- all prove a new respect for free speech, and show just how Pence and the Trump administration is viewed elsewhere.