Last night was, as I’m sure you know, the one and only Vice-Presidential debate. I figured it would be more controlled, more disciplined than the last debate between The Donald and Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I; I was right. My notes from the debate follow.
Before I start, let’s set expectations for this debate’s influence on the race, which are essentially nil. The Donald has had a couple of bad weeks after a middling-poor first debate, and unless he turns in far better performances in the second and third debates, we’ll be seeing Her Royal Highness in the Imperial Mansion in January – then, Katy-bar-the-door, because (in my estimation) we’re fucked. We’ll lose the Supreme Court and most of the Imperial judiciary to the Left, we’ll see a generation of proggie bureaucrats entrenched in the Imperial City, and we’ll see the Constitution continue to be used as toilet paper by the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt pol to ever sit in the Oval Office.
That’s what’s at stake. Now, on to my debate notes.
Pence opens by talking about the stifling influence of overwhelming government and how it’s run away over the last eight years. Good points but sedate, nearly dull delivery.
Right off, Kaine fields a question about Her Imperial Majesty’s trustworthiness by ignoring it and talking about something else. He can’t go there, and he knows it.
Next, a similar question to Pence about The Donald’s appearance of instability; Pence instead does a lateral arabesque to talk about the failed foreign policy of the Obama/Clinton years.
Kaine likes to interrupt; if this debate was decided on manners, Pence would win hands-down.
Kaine touts the Obama/Clinton Middle East policy as a major foreign policy success. It must be Opposite Day. Were Pence just a little less disciplined, he would have facepalmed himself into next week. Point: Pence.
Moderator Elaine Quijano asks Gov. Pence three questions about The Donald’s taxes, after one mild softball about Her Imperial Majesty’s email server. Ugh.
On to law and order. Kaine: “I’m a gun owner. I’m a Second Amendment supporter.” In other news, the moon is made of green cheese. Pence: “Stop seizing in tragedy – enough of seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement by claiming inherent bias.” Kind of a word salad without much meaning, as is Kaine’s reply. Both agree on the value of community policing, which is kind of like being stating unequivocally that one is in favor of ice cream and pie. This one’s a wash.
Immigration! Pence repeats The Donald’s primary points: Close the borders, internal enforcement, touts the ICE endorsement of The Donald. Pivots to the insulting tone of the campaign. Kaine screeches “Trump says mean things!” Tu quoque. He continues, “Trump wants to deport 16 million people! OMGWTFBBQ!!!!!11eleventy!!” Point: Pence.
Quijano: “Is the world safer today than seven years ago?” Kaine: “Bin Laden is dead, Iraq is safe, only Her Imperial Majesty can beat terrorists. She was part of the team that got Bin Laden.” Funny, I never knew Her Imperial Majesty was on a SEAL team. Touts Libya as a big foreign policy coup. Again, Opposite Day. Pence, in reply: “Did you work on that for a long time? Because there were a lot of amazing lines in it.” Zing. Talks about the lack of a Status of Forces agreement with Iraq leading to the power vacuum that led to the rise of ISIS. Kaine repeatedly interrupts without intervention from Mr. Quijano. Pence hits Her Imperial Majesty on the private server again, along with all the concomitant security problems. Point: Pence.
Quijano to Pence: “What will you do about Syria?” It would be more accurate to ask “What will you do to clean up the Godawful mess that President Obama and Secretary Clinton made of Libya by intervening militarily with no Congressional approval or oversight?” Judging by the record, Her Imperial Majesty does have one trait normally attributed to Republicans – a huge, raging war-boner. Pence talks about restoring American strength and respect in the world. Kaine pivots to Trumps taxes; Pence comes back with “I understand why you want to change the subject.” Zing. Still, this point is a wash – there was too much back-and-forth and talking over each other for either candidate to score a clear win.
On to Russia. Kaine: “Trump has business dealings with Russia that he won’t admit.” Huh? Pence: “Hillary said her #1 priority was a reset with Russia, which resulted in the invasion of Crimea.” An interesting point, but too esoteric for most voters. Pence goes on to repeat the current administration’s screw-ups in Libya, Iraq and Syria. Kaine pivots to Trump’s taxes again, before saying “Hillary knows how to sit at a table and negotiate tough deals.” I see damn little evidence of that. Pence also finds a way to describe the Clinton Foundation’s millions in donations from foreign powers and her dozens of meetings with donors while she was SecState. This one’s going to be a wash in the eyes of most viewers, but I think Pence won it on points.
Quijano asked both candidates about social issues, specifically asking about an incident in which each candidate’s faith conflicted with their duties in elected office. Kaine answered with platitudes, but makes one valid point about the death penalty, describing how he upheld the VA death penalty statute in spite of his religious objection. Good point. Pence likewise spoke in platitudes except for a statement about abortion; slammed Her Royal Highness on support for partial-birth abortion. This one’s a wash; neither made any real compelling point on an issue that isn’t much of a much in this election cycle anyway.
Fellow Colorado blogger Stephen Green on this question: “Kaine talking about his faith and the death penalty as governor is the first time I haven’t had the overwhelming desire to put him in a burlap sack and beat him with reeds.” I have to agree.
Summary: Tim Kaine is a rude little bastard. He constantly interrupted Gov. Pence, talked over him, and smirked while Pence was talking. Indeed, one wonders if the constant interruptions were intentional, as he generally used them to pivot to The Donald’s taxes and his insulting remarks to various people and groups – subjects that Pence struggled to defend.
Gov. Pence came out clearly ahead on form. But on points, considering the audience each candidate was aiming at, this debate was effectively a tie; there will be no clear advantage either way. My own point calls above are, of course, reflecting my own politics, so Pence was successful in speaking to me; but I have no doubt Kaine was equally successful in speaking to the Democrat base. Both candidates adhered strictly to talking points that will appeal to their base voters while not changing many (if any) minds.
This debate was mildly interesting but won’t move the needles on the race at all. Next up is The Donald and Her Imperial Majesty on Sunday; maybe that will be a game-changer, but this one sure wasn’t. We can only hope that The Donald was watching his running mate tonight and taking notes, because Gov. Pence took it to Her Imperial Majesty’s record and policies better than The Donald ever has.
We need something to take away the taste of politics, I think. Enjoy your Hump Day, True Believers!