Tim Kaine is a known quantity for me, since he was my governor and now he’s my senator. Granted I didn’t pay much attention to what he did, but that’s the kind of politician he is: He doesn’t make waves unless you’re into hyper-partisanship. I’ve always seen him as your basic run-of-the-mill politician, stamped out of the politician factory, with the party switch set on “Democrat.”
So my main interest in the veep debate though was sizing up Mike Pence, who I imagine we might be seeing run for president in 2020 or 2024 or both. (I mean, who else is there?) Pence is white and handsome and likable and articulate and funny … and very conservative … and lacks a southern accent. He’s the complete package. If the alt-right adopts him we’ll probably be seeing him again. (I actually don’t know what Trump supporters think of Pence.)
Kaine seemed out of his depth playing the role of attack dog. He’s not good at interrupting people and talking over people and acting like a jerk. Some people can get away with that (*cough* Trump *cough*) but Kaine’s not one of those people. Pence played it smart by playing the victim, although toward the end he started to sound a little whiny.
As for who won, I’d call it for Pence. He was the less annoying of the two. I think it was a mistake for Kaine to keep harping on the sound-bite gaffes that Trump has made. It made him sound like an Internet troll. Those gaffes are in the past now. Pence had an effective counter for it anyway: Essentially laughing it off as gossip that was beneath the dignity of him and the campaign and all of America, or turning it around with, “Okay, you got him, Trump isn’t a polished political speaker like the career politicians that you and Clinton are.” That’s probably the best and only way to handle that situation, and it’s fairly persuasive. I imagine that the kind of people who are seriously undecided, and seriously looking for how to vote, would be turned off by Kaine’s continual return to diversions from policy. A serious undecided voter (by which I mean someone who genuinely cares about making the “right” decision) would be looking for substance, and I think Pence did better there.
Then again, he did dodge a lot of questions about his boss. “I’m happy to defend Trump! Let’s talk about Russia.”
Speaking of which, this time, I noted that it was the Republican ticket bringing the hammer down on Russia. (No pun intended.) Pence said a lot of strong words against Russia, whereas Kaine was mostly all like, “Did you guys hear what Trump said about Putin?” During that discussion it seemed pretty clear that if Trump is elected, Pence will be handling the foreign policy while Trump works on negotiating trade deals and building walls and tweeting at 3 AM. Which again reminds me of your friend and mine, Dick Cheney, who had a big hand in Bush’s administration (that’s historical fact now, isn’t it?).
Elaine Quijano did a much better job as moderator than Lester Holt, or at least tried to. The questions were definitely better. It would be nice if the debate commission would figure out a way to stop the cross-talking though. The easiest solution would be to give the moderator some buttons to turn off microphones after the time limit. But I doubt that’s going to happen. The television sound engineers wouldn’t allow it, for one thing. Anyway it would just end up being distracting. I vaguely remember one year there was an actual “shot clock” that would count down and then buzz when time ran out. It didn’t make for great television, and the candidates just made fun of it.
I was a bit surprised to hear in the pre-debate spiels that among the list of sponsors for the debate was one Anheuser-Busch. I wondered what big corporations could possibly get out of sponsoring debates, but apparently they get free tickets to sit in the audience and (maybe) talk to the candidates. So if you were wondering who those people were in the audience, that’s who they are. Rich CEOs.
The debate had a lot less impact on Twitter (outside of political spheres) than the first presidential debate. Hardly any memes evolved. Which I take to mean that in the end, the debate didn’t matter at all, and it won’t change the election in any way.
And finally, here’s my public service announcement again: Don’t forget to read up on what else is on the ballot. It’s more than just the presidency. Somebody might be trying to change your state constitution. Google for your state’s election board or whatever.