Tlaib Trashes Pence for Violating Island's Vehicle Ban, But Ignores Fact Island Rules Were Fine with It


Mackinac Island in Michigan is a unique place. The tiny resort destination in Lake Huron is one of the few locales in the United States where motorized vehicles are mostly banned.

It was also the site of the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference last weekend, an event that featured Vice President Mike Pence. Given security concerns, obviously something had to give — which meant Pence had a motorcade of secure vehicles to travel in.

For the professionally outraged, this was a field day.

Take Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a member in good standing of “the squad.” Tlaib is from Michigan, and although her Detroit-area district isn’t exactly that close to Mackinac Island, she took it upon herself to be outraged for the Mackinacians. (Mackinackers? Mackinacois?)

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“Banned for a century people, and here comes the Trump Administration trampling all over it, like they do the U.S. Constitution,” she tweeted on Sept. 22.

“This video of the cars driving on our beautiful #MackinacIsland makes my stomach turn.”

Oh, now that’s a burn. Just like they’re doing with the Constitution! Can we get some clapping hand emojis in between those words just to emphasize it?

The one problem with that clapback is it’s not particularly accurate:

The ban on motorized vehicles has exceptions, generally for vehicles that aren’t there for reasons of personal travel.

I’m sure if it was possible for Pence to bike like most of the residents of and visitors to Mackinac, he would. That’s not a reality in the world we live in. Secure presidential vehicles are just as necessary as emergency ambulances and snowmobiles on the island.

All right, some said, but what about when President Gerald Ford visited the island in 1975? He rode in a carriage, as the Detroit Free Press noted.

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Those were different times, first off. This was before an attempt on Ford’s life by Charles Manson devotee Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme later that year, or the attempt on President Reagan’s life in 1981.

Do you think Pence's motorcade was justified?

Perhaps more importantly, this was before the specter of organized, globalized terrorism. Presidential assassins and would-be assassins were generally deranged losers.

Abraham Lincoln was killed by an outraged actor with delusions of grandeur, James Garfield was assassinated by a thoroughly batty spurned White House job seeker and John F. Kennedy by a communist who couldn’t hack it in the Soviet Union. Squeaky Fromme still thought following Charlie Manson was a good idea in 1975 and John Hinckley tried to kill Reagan because he thought it would impress actress Jodie Foster.

These, in short, weren’t the kind of people who could down Pan Am Flight 103. They weren’t the kind of people who could organize the bombing of the USS Cole. And they certainly weren’t the kind of people who could simultaneously hijack four airliners and use them to kill 3,000 people. That’s the difference between 1975 and now.

Oh, and about that 1975 visit by President Ford so often cited by the outrage batallion — the Secret Service brought a vehicle on the island anyway. They just didn’t tell anybody.

“The U.S. Secret Service had an automobile smuggled onto Mackinac Island when President Gerald Ford visited in 1975 — but the car was kept hidden and was never used, says a former longtime Mackinac Island official,” the Detroit Free Press reported before Pence’s visit.

“Dennis Cawthorne, a Lansing lobbyist and Mackinac Island resident who served for more than 20 years as chairman of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, said Ford and his wife, first lady Betty Ford, rode a horse-drawn carriage during their Mackinac visit.

“What wasn’t widely known at the time, Cawthorne said, was that the Secret Service insisted that a vehicle be quietly brought to the island, so it would be available in case of an emergency.”

Perhaps most importantly, though, the Pence vehicle use is not an issue with the state senator that represents Mackinac Island.

“It’s the nature of the security these days,” state Sen. Wayne Schmidt said, according to the Free Press.

“Any time we can get a high-ranking official, of any political stripe, up here, I welcome him.”

In fact, he did that literally, the Free Press reported, waiting on the side of the road to see the motorcade — if just because of its rarity on Mackinac.

Meanwhile, a cyclist on Mackinac Island — Phil Anderson of Winona, Minnesota — also told the Free Press he had no problem with the motorcade.

“It’s not an issue at all,” Anderson said. “The wonderful president and the wonderful vice president have to get out and meet people and they can’t walk from the airport.”

Yes, Mackinac Island has an airport, just in case you were wondering. Because a few government-issue SUVs spoil the ambiance but apparently airplanes don’t. Also, if there was some massive outpouring of outrage during the visit, the Free Press certainly wasn’t able to find it.

Pence’s motorcade wasn’t just within the rules, it was absolutely necessary given the circumstances. Furthermore, most of the outrage seemed to be confined to the sphere of social media; most of the denizens of the Twitterverse don’t inhabit or vacation on Mackinac Island, alas, but why not be outraged for those people?

Orange Man Deputy Bad, after all, and it’s high time a resort island was saved from his perfidies.

Unfortunately for Rashida Tlaib and the rest of the uproar-itariat, the vehicles’ presence was precedented, well within the rules and didn’t exactly inspire spasms of vitriol on the island.

On that last count, though, I have to thank Tlaib and her ilk for stepping in and channeling the outrage of island-dwellers and holiday-makers too timid and unwoke to be outraged for themselves.

I’m glad Michigan finally has a representative who can properly tell people when to be angry.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture