MEGAN MCARDLE: The Pences’ Prophylactic Approach to Infidelity.
Eventually Pence’s critics seemed to settle on two reasonable-sounding arguments: that his rule against one-on-one dining with females other than his wife would structurally disadvantage women in his office political network and that his rules for himself were actually sexist demands on his wife, requiring Karen Pence to give up her own career and act as a chaperone.
On that second point, I can say only that I remember when it was the height of bad taste to have any opinion at all about what went on in someone else’s marriage — for example, whether Hillary Clinton or Huma Abedin should have divorced their husbands for their sexual indiscretions. Back then, women of Karen Pence’s age were presumed to be adults, fully competent to decide what they were willing to endure in the course of their marriage. They were even entitled to do so without the unsolicited advice of several million unlicensed freelance marriage counselors. Has that edict now been rescinded? Or did it only ever apply to the spouses of Democratic politicians?
The other objection is more serious. Having once worked at a place where a lot of client bonding went on at strip clubs — outings at which I would have felt unwelcome, to say the least — I am fully cognizant of how these sorts of structural barriers can hamper a career. “If Pence won’t eat with a woman alone, how could a woman be Chief of Staff, or lawyer, campaign manager …” asked Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery on Twitter. “Would Pence dine with Ivanka? Or KellyAnne? Or are they too relegated to second class citizens … I don’t know/care if Pences have weird hangups. I do care if women are being denied jobs and opportunities, and that some normalize this. Has Pence in his career had a woman high up in any campaign, administration, private practice, radio show or think-tank?”
These are reasonable questions. The thing is, they have answers. And those answers seem to include a fair number of female staffers doing things other than fetching coffee. Who do not necessarily think that Pence’s rules are holding them back.
The important thing was to have an opportunity for Republicans Are Mean To Women!! shrieking, in the hopes that the majority of white women who voted from Trump can be lured back.