Pence Walkout Was a Cynical, Expensive, Pre-Planned Stunt

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (58) kneel during the playing of the National anthem before the first half of an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Susan Wright noted earlier that Mike Pence walked out of the Colts/49ers game, ostensibly because he was offended that the 49ers decided to “take a knee” during the national anthem.


Here’s the thing: he knew this was going to happen. The press was told to remain in the parking lot, and not even to bother coming in — as Pence would be leaving early.

Pence knew the 49ers would take a knee. Look at the timing. Trump made his incendiary “get that son of a b*tch off the field” remarks on September 22. The 49ers’ next game was October 1, and the 49ers very visibly took a knee during that game against the Cardinals:

Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the national anthem as others stand prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The next game after that was today. And guess what? Press reports had already made it clear that the 49ers were going to continue their protests. It is well known: “The 49ers have been among the most visible protesters in the league.” Consider this interview with Eric Reid, in which he indicated that he planned to continue doing this:

Q: Will you protest throughout the season?

“I do plan on that, yes.”

Q: You talked to the 49ers PR staff but not the coach. What plans do you have in talking to the organization about it?

A: “Well I had a talk with Jed (York, the 49ers CEO) last year and he told me how he felt about the situation, that he believes it’s my right to do so and he wasn’t going to say anything to make me feel I need to stop doing it. I think that’s awesome that he just has a good heart and allows me to do it.”


And Trump said in a tweet that he ordered Pence to leave the game if anyone took a knee:

Which, as I just demonstrated, it was already clear was going to happen.

This was nothing more than a stunt. A premeditated and incredibly cynical stunt. I was going to call it a “cheap stunt” — but that would be wildly inaccurate, because it actually cost the taxpayers quite a lot of money. Consider: Pence had just been in Las Vegas, and his next stop was Los Angeles, a short plane flight west — but he instead flew all the back to Indianapolis for this photo op, taking his entourage and his security detail with him. The streets doubtless had to be blocked off for his motorcade. I’m quite sure special security precautions were taken for the Vice President of the United States. And all along, he planned to engage in a tawdry, pre-planned sham performance — with all the expense that entails — just to get people embroiled in a cynical culture war.

I agree with Ed Krayewski at Reason:

Pence certainly knew the history of the 49ers in the protests, or should have. . . . But had he simply chosen not to attend, he couldn’t have put on this show. That required giving money to the organization he claims he’s boycotting.

But Pence’s move isn’t about a genuinely-held belief. It’s a rank political stunt at the expense of taxpayers, and reveals the self-masturbatory nature of much of what government officials do.

Pence dragged Secret Service out to Lucas Stadium, only to throw a hissy fit and walk out.


I would add only: that was the plan all along.

Look: I personally disagree with the concept “taking a knee” during the national anthem. I always — always — stand up tall, put my hand on my heart, and sing. Not because some politician tells me to, but because I love my country. I set that example for my children. I don’t like these protests.

But I’m not going to sit for lectures about respecting our soldiers from Donald “I like people who weren’t captured” Trump or his pathetic toady Mike Pence. And I’m not going to let myself be hoodwinked by their horsesh*t antics. They planned this, they knew it would happen, and it is a manipulative, self-absorbed con job.

Just how stupid do you think we are?

If they want to pull something like this as a sort of campaign stunt, let them pay for it with campaign money. Don’t bill the taxpayers for this. This is why people hate government.



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