The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Sweet God, where are Mike Pence’s eyes?

Sweet God, where are the eyes? (Jim Mone/AP)

“And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health-care personnel, and look them in the eye and say, ‘Thank you.’”

— Vice President Pence, explaining his decision not to wear a mask at the Mayo Clinic, in defiance of its policy that all visitors wear masks

Well, it is worse than I thought.

Mike Pence, who is heading up our coronavirus task force, does not know where the eyes are located on the face.

He did not want to wear a mask because he wanted to … look health workers in the eye?

I am not wearing socks on the grounds that I want to be able to hear. I won’t be wearing a hat on the grounds that I want to be able to smell. I won’t be putting on gloves because I want to be able to taste. (I sometimes feel that I cannot hear as well when I am wearing sunglasses, but I know that this is because I am wrong and maybe something is the matter with me.)

“Give [a man] a mask,” Oscar Wilde said, “and he’ll tell you the truth.”

Full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

Mike Pence has been given a mask, and he has told us the truth: He thinks the eyes are in the mouth or perhaps in the quadrant of the face between the mouth and the ears. An alarming and potent fancy! The eyes perhaps protrude from the tip of the tongue. The eyes are tucked just beneath the nose! The eyes are in a little serried row along the lips, where they wink and glisten! Where are the eyes, Mike Pence? Show us on a map where you find the eyes. Pretend I am Mike Pompeo, and they are Ukraine.

Follow Alexandra Petri's opinionsFollow

I understand that to know too much about the bodies of others and their mysterious construction might seem like impertinence, but — please. You are heading the coronavirus task force. I want to know that you are at least as confident as the average 3-year-old as to where the eyes are located in the face.

Vice President Pence did not wear a mask while meeting with patients and staff during his April 28 visit at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. (Video: Reuters)

Where are the eyes? Sweet God, where are the eyes?

I suppose it could be that you wish to emulate the president, who has said he doesn’t see himself in a mask (where, for that matter, are his eyes?), but that would just mean you were wantonly putting others’ safety at risk to look more impressive, and that would be the most depressing reason of all. Ignorance can be improved. But willful neglect — no.

On second thought: Please, tell me you do not know where the eyes are. That we could fix.

Sign up to receive Alexandra Petri’s columns by email as soon as they’re published

Read more from Alexandra Petri:

Oh, we’re supposed to wait until it is SAFE to reopen?

America, please don’t put bleach inside yourself like the president says

Powerless to help, Donald Trump worries about incompetent pandemic leadership

Submit a question for Petri’s May 5 live chat

Read a transcript of Petri’s April 28 live chat

Loading...