Scott Tibbs

Dishonest attacks on Mike Pence over Ukraine

By Scott Tibbs, July 24, 2023

When Mike Pence answered a question from Tucker Carlson about military aid to Ukraine a couple weeks ago, his answer went viral because some "conservatives" deceptively edited the video clip of his answer and attempted to smear him as being unconcerned with domestic issues. This, of course, is a lie. Pence very clearly said of foreign and domestic policy that "we can do both." We can be the leader of the free world and handle domestic policy. Obviously, Pence is right. We proved we can lead the free world and solve domestic problems in the 1980's.

But I disagree with more traditional "Reaganite" conservatives like Pence in giving more weapons to Ukraine. The problem with arming Ukraine is that we are prolonging the war when we should be working to end it and prevent more death and destruction. We are also risking direct military conflict with Russia, which would be disastrous. The USA helped provoke the war by being reckless with NATO expansion and ignoring Russia's security concerns. The Biden Administration has backed itself into a political corner with the rhetoric about the war, and any change in policy will be seen as a retreat. This is why a more sober-minded approach was needed from the very beginning.

But the difference between me and some of the people on the "New Right" is that I can disagree honestly with Pence on policy, and not lie about what he said. It actually is possible to explain why Pence's approach is misguided without making dishonest caricatures of his words. The Republican Party has moved in a more non-interventionist direction over the last eight years, and that is a very good thing. Pence has not moved along, and it is perfectly reasonable to criticize him on the merits of his position.

Did Pence choose his words poorly in the opening of his response, leaving himself vulnerable to a deceptive edit? Yes. Could he have articulated himself more effectively? Yes. But everyone chooses words poorly from time to time, including the people condemning Pence. Everyone has made gaffes, and everyone has said things that, without further explanation, can be seen as troublesome.

This is the problem with the Internet age. Thirty years ago, a mini-gaffe like that (which was not even a gaffe, in context) would not be pushed to everyone's phone. Now politicians have to agonize over every single word they say, because everything is being recorded by someone. It has made our national dialogue worse by making everything filtered to the point that people are too timid to speak honestly. And whose who are unfiltered are often obnoxious trolls.

This problem cannot truly be solved, but it can be mitigated if people stop pretending to be "outraged" at every single poor choice of words. It can be mitigated if people actually research the context of what someone said before clutching their pearls and spewing fake "outrage" and crocodile tears into the social media landscape. In other words, things would be a lot better of people actually act like adults, not stunted adolescents who react emotionally and lack the patience to actually do some independent research. In other words, wide swaths of the Right need to grow up.

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