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Mike Pence Spent A Quarter Million Dollars of Your Money to Stage a Publicity Stunt at an NFL Game

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Those “sons of bitches” kneeling and making the anthem about themselves are being bad Americans—so says our commander-in-chief. This weekend however, we learned that it’s totally okay to make the national anthem about yourself as long as you’re sitting in a seat of near unchecked power. Mike Pence spent about $242,500 to travel from Las Vegas to Indianapolis for a game he didn’t plan to attend, then flew to California for a fundraiser starring Vladimir Putin’s favorite congressman, Dana Rohrabacher.

Not only was Mike Pence using the national anthem as his own political prop, but he also disrespected a man who would run circles around him in an Indiana primary: Peyton Manning. The Colts unveiled a statue for their legend at the game on Sunday, and Mike Pence claimed that he was there to honor Peyton’s career.

Looking forward to cheering for our @Colts & honoring the great career of #18 Peyton Manning at @LucasOilStadium today. Go Colts! pic.twitter.com/C3aCYUNpqG— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
However, as soon as some black folks took a knee, Vice President Snowflake “ditched” the “plan,” and walked out of the stadium.

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.— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
First off, anyone who tells you that these protests are against the anthem or the armed forces either isn't paying attention or is being willfully misleading (cc: lazy mainstream media outlets still inexplicably calling them anthem protests). The latter is certainly the case with our VPOTUS (and perhaps some mainstream outlets that still somehow mischaracterize the protests—since it's getting harder to find any other logical rationale for them to continue this incompetence), as 49ers safety Eric Reid has had to say time and time and time and time and time and time again: this has absolutely nothing to do with the armed forces.

“This is not about the military, this is not about the flag, this is not about the anthem. My mother served in the armed forces. Three of my uncles served … I have the utmost respect for the military, for the anthem, for the flag … This is about systemic oppression that has been rampant in this country … I will keep doing what I feel is necessary, to use the platform that I have, to make changes. It's really disheartening when everything you were raised on, everything I was raised on, was to be the best person I can be, to help people who need help, and the Vice President of the United States is trying to confuse the message that we're trying to put out there. I don't know what to say about it.”

This was nothing more than a publicity stunt by the vice president that was expensed to the taxpayers. How do I know that Pence planned to leave the entire time? Well, anyone who says that they have paid any attention to the NFL this year and are shocked by players taking a knee during the anthem is either a liar, or suffers from debilitating memory loss. It's the defining image of this season.


Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty


Photo by Norm Hall/Getty

Players on both these teams already were kneeling throughout the entire season, and Eric Reid helped Kaepernick create the protest last year, as he wrote in the New York Times:

After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it's a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.

Initially, no one paid any attention to Kaepernick protesting quietly and sitting on the bench. The media only took notice when Reid and Kaepernick consulted with members of the armed forces who viewed sitting as disrespectful, and kneeling was the middle ground they found with those who expressed genuine concern. To top off this craven stunt, the picture that Pence shared of he and his wife at a Colts game wasn't even from this weekend, and Pence had already tweeted out the picture years ago, apparently thinking that no one else had access to the internet.

One tweet from 2014…another tweeted today…same photo… pic.twitter.com/Xf1MUcA9YQ— Yashar Ali ???? (@yashar) October 8, 2017
Then there's this: Before entering the game, Pence's people apparently told reporters to stay put, since he might leave the game early.

FLAG: Was Pence leaving Colts game a political stunt? Reporters were told to stay in van bc "there may be an early departure from the game."— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) October 8, 2017
No one can be this stupid, right? Right? Wait…what's that? Anyone else hear that voice off in the distance? My God, it can't be….

I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
Mike Pence spent a quarter million dollars of our money to go to a football game just so he could leave early, tweets that this was his and the president's stance, only to have the president take all the credit for Pence's stunt. There's a nonzero chance that Trump keeps Pence on an actual leash when they're in the White House. To top it off, the best excuse these ghouls could come up with was “we were already planning on spending taxpayer dollars to send the VP to honor a multimillionaire athlete. Drain the swamp!”

pic.twitter.com/f5BPo6MgvD— Kilgore Trout (@KT_So_It_Goes) October 8, 2017
No matter how they spin this, in order for it to not be a craven publicity stunt, Pence and Trump’s tweets require them to have zero knowledge that Colts and 49ers players were already kneeling this season. Given that the president had the entire NFL protest him—owners included—a couple weeks ago, this is a specious argument at best. If Pence and Trump’s stance is that they will not attend any sporting event where a protest (by black people) during the anthem is being planned, then Pence didn’t need to go to this game, because at the very least, he must have known that that Eric Reid would be kneeling. There are a lot of horrors hidden in the Trump administration, and this episode ranks near the bottom of importance, but it is perhaps the most blatantly obvious example yet of how this administration speaks of “draining the swamp” while pursuing policies and using tactics that only serve to grow the swamp—all paid for by you and me.

Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.

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