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Mike Pence Burns Himself With Joke About Lifting Empty PPE Boxes

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence listens during a briefing on the Trump administration's coronavirus response in the press briefing room of the White House on March 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. Officials took questions on a range of issues related to the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Lifting an empty box for the photo op literally makes you the equivalent of that kid who loses the game and instantly takes his ball and goes home. Even though Mike Pence decidedly did not do that, it still rubs me the wrong way that he “jokingly” asked if he should lift empty boxes of PPE for the camera, because I do not personally put it past this administration to do something like that.

In a clip from Pence’s trip to the Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center, Mike Pence is seen moving boxes of PPE to the facility (without a mask, mind you), and clearly, he’s lifting boxes with things in them. But, by the end, Pence’s mic captures him asking about the empty boxes and whether or not he can lift them for the camera.

The clip started to make the rounds online because people thought Pence really was lifting empty boxes for a PR stunt, and while I do think this is something he would do (remember Donald Trump’s table full of supposed legal documents?), and this was a PR stunt, this clip is not the full story.

The clip went viral because Jimmy Kimmel Live made a joke about what a perfect metaphor Mike Pence delivering empty boxes is, but the clip was played without the part where Mike Pence does not pick up the empty box. Buzzfeed’s David Mack debunked the idea that Pence actually lifted empty boxes for the camera.

As Buzzfeed points out, though, this PR stunt came … right after White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany decided to tell the House Democrats that now was not the time for publicity stunts. “We don’t have time, in the middle of a pandemic, for publicity stunts,” she said. “It’s not the time for that. It’s not the place for that.”

What makes me see red is that it was, at its core, a PR stunt meant to show that the White House is doing something, despite the fact that they are letting governors reopen their states while COVID-19 cases are still on the rise, without meeting criteria to do so without just sending us back to a spike in cases. So much of this country is in disarray that actors have to step up and use their platforms to raise money for testing because the president and his party cannot be bothered.

So no, Mike Pence did not lift an empty box for a PR stunt, but that doesn’t change that this administration cares more about appearances than substance and saving lives. Listen to scientists, stay inside, and do not listen to Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who refuse to do the bare minimum for the American people.

(image: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.