• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Puritanical Pence: To All Men, Pay Attention

November 2017

To think; what we wouldn’t give right now to be complaining about Mike Pence. It was he, you’ll recall, who ruffled feminine feathers not so long ago after we learned of his approach to the second sex. During an interview with The Washington Post last spring, his wife Karen revealed her hubby’s abstemious stance when it comes to gendered affairs. Mrs. Pence explained that the vice president places upon himself two prohibitions: The first is that he’ll never dine with a woman alone. The second, that he’ll never attend an event without Mrs. Pence’s presence if alcohol is being served.

Not surprisingly, these two “thou shalt nots” were met with ridicule all around. To never eat dinner alone with a woman seems to me an impracticable prohibition. Politics, after all, is best played in the closing hours at restaurants and parlors. That’s when rapport takes form or flutters away. Excluding all females—save for one’s spouse—from Washington’s famous after hour powwows risks missing out on so very much. How else does one stumble into important insights with intelligent women that might not otherwise happen on the clock. And while it’s true, you can’t talk and chew at the same time, there’s no rule about being unfaithful to a wife while doing all the above.

The second prohibition might be even harder to uphold. When the potations flow, as they often spontaneously do, Pence must find himself in a real pickle. Succumb to the sauce or skedaddle—it’s the centuries’ old conundrum lesser men have faced down. That’s not to say Pence would ever partake or imbibe—as far as we know he too is a teetotaler like Mr. Trump, one of the few commonalities shared between them—but it certainly makes for an interesting dilemma. Is the thought that the tipsy tramp across the room might latch on to a sober Pence and he, lacking agency, will fall prey to her seductive ways? Or is he so loose that he can’t stop himself from making a move? Either way, it’s odd.

Whence, you might ask, does Mr. Pence come up with these two commandments tacked on to the ten? His rationale harks back to Billy Graham, that evangelist firebrand who made his stuffy Protestantism popular for middle-America again. Graham follows in a long line of revivalists and zealots, from Edwards to Whitfield to Finney and more recently from Moody to Spurgeon to Sunday. The Billy Graham Rule, as it’s come to be known, is quite simple and reads as follows: If you’re a God-fearing man, don’t dare find yourself alone with a woman to whom you’re not wed. Damn the temerity of temptation! Be gone you guileful gynoids!

It might be sexist—it almost certainly is—but it might just be the salve our society needs. Weinstein opened the wounds. Since then, our putrid patriarchal morality has been oozing out ever since. It might be objectionable, especially for a society whose pride is its equality, but the Billy Graham Rule might just be what we need. At least for the moment, lest we risk this more assault, harassment, misconduct, and allegation.

All I’m saying is that after watching the Moore’s, the Franken’s, the Louis C.K.’s, the Spacey’s, and the Weinstein’s of the world degrade mankind, a puritanical Pence-intervention seems strangely appealing right about now. For those aforementioned men, the prescription should go as follows: if you get a whiff of a woman, or if you lose control of your lecherous loins, think of Mike Pence. If that doesn’t work, think of Mrs. Pence. Abide by the Pence proscriptions, and we might yet turn society’s ship around.

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