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Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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Pence-If

By on April 1, 2015 in See It Here

There is no question at all Indiana Governor Mike Pence cares about business and people in his state. That’s part of being a governor: you are a cheerleader for the state and the people. I get that. He doesn’t.

As everyone is aware, the governor appeared on ABC’s This Week to explain the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the rest of us since there did seem to be some confusion as to what the measure does–and doesn’t do. We are indeed lucky he took the time to do this since mayors of Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver and the governors of Washington, New York and Connecticut along with the NCAA, the head of Apple, Angie’s List and Gap/Levi’s have said they all have a problem with the law that goes into effect in July.

That should have been Clue Number 1 for the governor. If a number of people are suggesting there’s a problem, maybe there is a problem? The governor’s response? They just don’t understand the law. In other words,: I know. You don’t. End of discussion.

Governor Pence was asked a “yes-or-no” question about whether the law allows a business to refuse service because a potential customer is gay or Muslim or  whatever and he refused to answer. In fact he was asked the same question six or seven times and he was unable to say “yes” or “no.”

This is Clue Number 2 for the governor. It really is a law that can be explained with a “yes” or “no” answer.  If a Christian owner doesn’t want to sell a can of Chock Full of Nuts to a gay person, then does the law say he can or can’t? The governor’s response? I know. You don’t. End of discussion.

When I teach think tanks (and even some politicians) about answering questions on camera, I suggest they go on the air only if they can clearly make their case for their point of view. Governor Pence’s performance is going to be my go-to example of exactly what not to do. The law he signed may indeed be good but if the law can’t be explained to people who are supposed to follow it, then you have just wasted alot of time.

It’s good to learn he wants a new bill on his desk ASAP. Once it arrives, I hope he can answer a “yes” or “no” question. More important: I hope he understands that people are smarter than he thinks they are. And yes, that includes the governors-mayors-CEO’s and ….voters.

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