Sunday 22 September 2019

While you're here Mr Pence, I've a few questions

Vice president Mike Pence.
Vice president Mike Pence.

Darragh Clifford - Straight Talking

US vice president Mike Pence is in Ireland this week, mixing official and private engagements during his three-day visit. Not surprisingly, the visit is considerably more low-key compared to Donald Trump's brief stay here earlier this year. Wherever Trump goes, he brings with him a mind-boggling circus that is about as presidential as a bunch of rich boys on a stag party.

Nonetheless, Pence's visit is significant for a number of reasons, and it will be interesting to see the vice president's take on Brexit and the horror show developing in Westminster this week.

Having met Tánaiste Simon Coveney yesterday at Shannon Airport, Pence is due to meet President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over the coming days. Of course, we will not be privy to the conversations President Higgins and Taoiseach Varadkar will have with Pence behind closed doors, and we will learn little from the brief and excruciating stage-managed soundbites they will give in front of the press.

Brexit, trade and immigration are said to be on the agenda, which is fair enough. But if I had Pence in the room for a couple of hours, I wouldn't be able to let the opportunity pass without posing a few questions to the vice president, along the lines of the following:

1: Why is your Government hell bent on doing nothing on gun laws? Seriously, the rest of the world has no clue why your government believes the solution to gun violence is more guns. If this was the case, your country would be the safest in the world - it is clearly not. Americans shouldn't be looking over their shoulder for a gunman anytime they go to a shopping mall, a school or place of worship. Yet this is where we are today.

2: How can your government justify the locking up of innocent children in the name of immigration? Is there anything more un-American than tearing kids away from their parents and placing them in centres, often in cages, as they await deportation? Even children suffering from chronic illnesses are not safe from this barbaric approach. Shame on you.

3: Why is your government doing nothing to address the chronic problem your country has with racism? How many innocent African Americans have to be shot, often by law enforcement officers, before something is done? Why are you making it so hard for African Americans to vote in certain districts in States across your country? It is blatant gerrymandering.

4: Why does your government ignore all sound scientific advice on climate change? The greatest threat to this planet is not some terrorist organisation based somewhere in the Middle East, but the changes taking place to our environment, changes that are happening at an alarming rate. But your government is not concerned by any of this. In fact you flatly deny that there is a problem, and have wasted considerable time, money and effort trying to undo the work the Obama administration did on the environment for the simple reason that is was Obama that did it.

5: What is the story with Russia? For a government that continues to say they want to make America great again, you seem to spend a lot of time saying how great Russia and Putin are. Well, your dear leader Trump does anyway. Not to mention his weird relationship with North Korea.

6: Why is the Republican Party standing by Trump when it is plain as day that he is the most un-American president ever to set foot in the White House? Is the lure of power really that great?

7: In fact, Mr vice-president, when you consider questions 1-6 as a whole, how the hell to you sleep at night?

Enniscorthy Guardian