A sports writer for USA Today Sports ripped into Vice President Mike Pence saying that he “embarrassed America,” when he refused to stand and honor the unified Korean team at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
For the paper, writer David Meeks attacked the Vice President for not showing respect for the unified team. This, despite the fact that North Korea is systematically starving its people to death.
Meeks started his February 12 op-ed by saying that the “hot air” in South Korea finally left the games when “Vice President Mike Pence and his excuse makers returned to the United States.”
Meek’s article only grew in intensity from there. The writer ripped Pence anew, saying it would have been better if he had not come to the Olympics at all:
It would have been better if Pence had not come at all. By declining to stand and recognize athletes of the Korean unified team as they walked together during the opening ceremony, Pence not only offended the host country, he sent a message that to the Trump Administration, not even common courtesy matters more than childish politics.
Meeks lamented that “the world noticed” that Pence wouldn’t stand for the North Koreans as if that was a reason for the U.S. to be ashamed. Meeks also slammed Pence over the last two seasons of criticism that the National Football League faced over millionaire players who refused to stand to honor the United States during the playing of the national anthem.
Columnists were quick to seize on Pence’s walkout of an NFL game last season, so offended by football players who did not stand during the pregame playing of the national anthem. That he saw nothing hypocritical in his behavior in South Korea only underscores how tone deaf this administration is in representing the United States abroad.
For his part, the vice president said that he would not stand to “recognize the most oppressive regime on earth.” Meeks criticized this as Pence “playing the patriotism card.”
Meeks’ main point was that by not standing, Pence also dissed the South Koreans who marched in a unified group with the North Korean athletes:
There were South Korean athletes in that delegation as well. We all know North Korea is a dictatorship, but South Korea is among our strongest allies. Do they count? The people here are wonderful. Americans are respected and embraced in this country; it would seem a small gesture for a visiting vice president to return the same respect.
The writer tried to get several South Korean dignitaries to side with him in his attacks on Pence, but none of the officials he contacted wanted to supply a quote on the incident.
Despite the lack of support for his position from South Korean officials, Meeks went on to call Pence’s actions “an embarrassment.”
“If Pence had stood to recognize the Korean athletes at this global event, it would be preposterous to portray it as an endorsement of the regime in North Korea. It was not political until Pence made it political,” Meeks wrote.
The writer said that refusing to stand in honor of the tyrannical and dangerous regime was just “pettiness.”
Wrapping up his attack, Meeks insisted that the number two man in the one nation that celebrates freedom above all should have stood to honor the most oppressive nation in the world today.
“Pence couldn’t stand for it and opted for disrespect instead, and that is all the world will remember about his appearance at the Pyeongchang Olympics,” Meeks concluded.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.