Vice President Pence is continuing to follow Trump’s lead in dismissing any signs of possible diplomacy with North Korea. In the latest instance, he also proved himself to be a hypocrite when it comes to protesting at sporting events and showing respect to flags.
On Friday, the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics kicked off with a show of unity between North Korea and South Korea. Athletes from both nations marched across the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium under the Korean “unification” flag that depicts the Korean Peninsula as one country, not divided as two.
While the rest of the crowd stood up and broke out into massive cheers, the vice president and his wife looked on with straight faces. Not only were the Pences the only people in the VIP box — which included South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — to not stand during the demonstration, they couldn’t even be bothered to clap.
Given that South Korea is the host country of these winter games, the move was seen as especially disrespectful by many.
Last October, Pence pulled a publicity stunt by attending a NFL game between the Colts and the 49s — knowing perfectly well that the latter team had been protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem since 2016 — and leaving in feigned outrage upon seeing that the players didn’t stand during the song.
He went on to post a series of tweets condemning their actions as disrespectful. “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” he wrote. “At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience… now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us… While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem.”
Pence was roundly called out on social media for the hypocrisy of his actions at the Olympics. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted, “Why does Pence hate the opening ceremonies? Oh wait…he’s a using ceremony at a sporting event to protest something else. Where have I seen that before?”
Why does Pence hate the opening ceremonies? Oh wait…he's a using ceremony at a sporting event to protest something else. Where have I seen that before? https://t.co/B9sTboKVa9
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 10, 2018
To be fair, Pence didn’t stand for any country other than the U.S. during the ceremony, but in the days leading up to the event, he made clear his intentions of showing no signs of easing tensions in dealing with North Korea numerous times. This makes his decision to look stony-faced upon seeing the exhibition for peace look like a deliberate snub.
According to the BBC, Pence also skipped a dinner where he was “due to share a table with North Korea’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam.”
In Japan just days before the Olympics’ start, Pence announced that the U.S. would soon be unveiling “the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever” and would “continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all.”
He also made multiple comments on his plans to not allow North Korea to use the Olympics to spread propaganda. “We’ll continue to seize every opportunity to ensure that North Korea does not use the powerful imagery and backdrop of the Olympics to paper over an appalling record of human rights and a pattern of developing weapons and conducting the kind of missile launches that are threatening our nation and threatening neighbors across the region,” he said on Thursday.
On Friday he tweeted, “The U.S will not allow the propaganda charade by the North Korean regime to go unchallenged on the world stage. The world can NOT turn a blind eye to the oppression & threats of the Kim regime.”