The Studied Cluelessness of Mike Pence

The Studied Cluelessness of Mike Pence April 2, 2015

Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana mumbled and bumbled through an impromptu press conference, trying and failing to quell the controversy over that state’s new RFRA+ law. That would not surprise you if you’d seen Andrew Kaczynski’s Buzzfeed article that looked at some old op-ed columns that Pence wrote about 15 years ago. The ignorance and total inability to make a logical argument practically screams out at you. Like this statement, about cigarettes:

Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, 2 out of every 3 smokers does not die from a smoking-related illness and 9 out of 10 smokers do not contract lung cancer.

Yeah, two out of three smokers doesn’t die from smoking, so obviously smoking doesn’t kill! Do I really need to spell out how illogical that argument is?


CO2 can’t cause global warming because CO2 is a “naturally occurring phenomenon.” Right. And nuclear weapons can’t cause destruction because uranium and plutonium are natural. And forest fires can’t cause damage because lightning naturally causes them sometimes. Genius, governor. Bloody genius.


George Washington was a Republican? That will come as quite a shock to Washington, who not only was not a member of a political party, he was a staunch opponent of all political parties and believed they were dangerous to a functioning democracy. In his farewell address, he warned against the formation of political parties, saying that they cause “horrid enormities” and calling them a “frightful despotism.”

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

So he declares George Washington a Republican and saying that Republicans like him have better ideas, while ignoring that one of Washington’s primary ideas was that political parties should not be allowed to form in the country. Nice going, Pence. Back to remedial history for you.

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  • raven

    Mike Pence isn’t clueless. He is a serial liar.

    He is what he is. Toads gotta be toads. It’s the majority of the voters of Indiana that made him governor.

    A lot of the christofascist states aren’t doing so well. Walker”s Wisconsin, Jindal’s Louisiana, Brownbeck’s Kansas have all been wrecked by the usual not very magic supply side economics and tax cuts.

    The voters don’t care. You can see what fundie xian faimily values really are. It doesn’t matter how many people get poorer as long as they can hate a lot of groups of people.

  • dmcclean

    This new learning amazes me, Governor Pence. Explain again how sheep’s bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes?

  • D. C. Sessions

    The Truth is that since at the time of his Address, there was no Republican Party and Washington (being himself a Republican with as yet no Party) was warning the Nation against the others which had and to this day have all of the faults he describes.

    The take-away from Washington’s Address is thus that the only Party which can be trusted in these United States is the Republican Party.

  • marcus

    Look, according to the CDC smoking only kills about 480,000 Americans a year.

    Ease up on those poor embattled tobacco companies.

  • John Pieret

    Give Pence a break. His appearance on ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopolous” was one of the best things that has happened for LBGT rights and marriage equality in years.

  • scienceavenger

    Hurricanes are natural too Mikey, why don’t you go stand in front of one.

    I thought the natural=good idiocy was a lefty thing, are the GOPers taking that now too?

  • Michael Heath

    I recall Mike Pence from the early-2000s when I used to monitor Fox News. He was demonstrably clueless, always. He just happened upon the right schtick apply his cluelessness to and get rewarded for such behavior. What such people can’t withstand is scrutiny, and that’s where our media generally fails us though here I’d give them a C-.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I thought the natural=good idiocy was a lefty thing, are the GOPers taking that now too?

    The ones sponsored byUtah MLMs certainly are.

  • dannorth

    “And nuclear weapons can’t cause destruction because uranium and plutonium are natural.”

    Actually the plutonium used in nuclear bombs is produced in nuclear reactors.

  • the plutonium used in nuclear bombs is produced in nuclear reactors

    It’s a natural process. Everything except Helium and Hydrogen is produced in nuclear reactors, called “stars”

  • He’s just a fucking liar. This article explains it pretty well — the lobbyists standing behind Pence when he signed the legislation are all anti-gay activists.

    He probably wants to forget them because they led him off a cliff.

  • DaveL

    Only 2 out of 3 smokers die from non-smoking-related causes? That’s worse than I thought. Can you imagine if 1 out of 3 drivers died in traffic accidents? Hell, combat service in the infantry has better odds.

  • colnago80

    Re Marcus Ranum @ #10

    Everything except Helium and Hydrogen is produced in nuclear reactors, called “stars

    Excuse me, Helium is produced in stars. The nuclear reaction that fuels stars on the main sequence is H -> He. elements beyond iron are produced in supernovas.

  • @Colnago80 – whups, you’re right!

  • moarscienceplz

    Ha ha! All you liberals were fooled by Pence’s superior knowledge! Serious Republican intellectuals know that “George Washington” was the pseudonym used by Abraham Lincoln to run for president the first time because he was underage at the time. And since Lincoln WAS a Republican, EVERYTHING Governor Pence said is true! Checkmate, Liberals!

  • caseloweraz

    Nucleosynthesis is the process that creates new atomic nuclei from pre-existing nucleons, primarily protons and neutrons. The first nuclei were formed about three minutes[citation needed] after the Big Bang, through the process called Big Bang nucleosynthesis. It was then that hydrogen and helium formed to become the content of the first stars, and is responsible for the present hydrogen/helium ratio of the cosmos.


  • llewelly

    It’s true that stellar processes (probably supernova) produce plutonium. And it’s also produced in natural nuclear reactors like the Oklo thing . But in geological terms, the half lives of all plutonium isotopes are all short, and most of the natural processes that created plutonium happened long long ago. So the amount of natural plutonium on earth is extremely tiny .

    The overwhelming majority of plutonium on Earth was created in nuclear reactors.

    I agree with the point Ed is trying to make, but, in choosing plutonium, Ed nonetheless picked a bad example. (Uranium works fine though.)

  • D. C. Sessions

    Excuse me, Helium is produced in stars. The nuclear reaction that fuels stars on the main sequence is H -> He. elements beyond iron are produced in supernovas.

    A lot of it was also produced in the Big Bang. In fact, IIRC most of the helium in the Universe was produced in the Big Bang, with only a modest amount (so far) produced by stellar fusion.

  • I’ve always been amazed by what The Founders thought and did. That last long quote from George just cements my belief in their genius. Even if they all were smelly, middle-aged, white men, some of whom owned slaves.