Thursday, October 22, 2020

Evaluation: Hits and misses from the vice presidential debate

It was a far extra civil affair than last week’s debacle between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

I watched, tweeted and took notes. Under, my ideas on the very best and the worst from the evening that was.

* Kamala Harris: The California senator’s greatest 15 minutes of the debate have been the primary 15 minutes of the controversy. Helped by the concentrate on Covid-19 — and the Trump administration’s botched dealing with of the pandemic, Harris crushed Pence with the file of the administration he is part of. “They knew they usually coated it up,” she mentioned of Trump’s admission that he purposely downplayed the severity of the virus. Harris was much less robust in defending Biden’s file — specifically Pence’s repeated assaults on Biden’s supposed assertion that he would repeal the entire Trump tax cuts and finish fracking. (Harris mentioned Biden would guarantee taxes wouldn’t go up on anybody making less than $400,000 and insisted, repeatedly, that Biden wouldn’t ban fracking.) And her dodge of a query on whether or not a Biden administration would add seats to the Supreme Court docket was a miss. General, nonetheless, I feel Harris did what a very good VP ought to do — she slammed Trump, significantly on Covid-19, and stored the main target largely on the present administration. She did so with a relaxed, cool and picked up demeanor; when Pence interrupted, she used silence and a stare — usually more practical than any phrases. And her “Mr. Vice President, I’m talking” line goes to be one to recollect for Democrats.

* Mike Pence, on offense: The vp is a really stable (and underrated) debater. His greatest moments on Wednesday evening got here when he was prosecuting the previous statements of each Biden and Harris — on taxes, on fracking, on the Inexperienced New Deal, on China. It is more durable than you may assume to weave opposition analysis dumps into a solution in a debate with out it trying completely compelled. Pence is great at it. And looking out on the debate solely via the lens of Pence’s political future being tied to defending, with no quarter given, the file of Donald Trump, he acquitted himself properly.

* Susan Web page’s questions: Sure, the moderator took a variety of warmth for her lack of ability to rein in Pence when he stored speaking past the time restrict. (Extra on that beneath.) However for those who return and take heed to (or learn) her questions, they have been excellent. Pointed, considerate and, sadly, largely unanswered.

* The fly: Look, say what you’ll in regards to the media specializing in the unimportant stuff. However there was a rattling fly on Pence’s hair for two stable minutes! (This isn’t an exaggeration; it was actually two minutes.) Has a fly ever obtained extra publicity? Heck, Biden even despatched out a fly fundraising appeal whereas the controversy was nonetheless occurring! Additionally, for those who do not assume this debate might be remembered because the “fly debate,” properly then, please permit me to introduce you to politics.

* Twitter: I’ve a love/hate relationship with the social media platform, nevertheless it actually is at its greatest on large political nights like this. Humorous and insightful, with snark sprinkled on prime and simply the correct quantity of imply baked in there, too.

MISSES

* Mike Pence, on protection: It’s a herculean activity to attempt to defend Trump’s actions (and inactions) on the coronavirus pandemic. That was the job earlier than Pence on Wednesday evening and, not surprisingly, he got here up quick. Pence glossed over Trump’s repeated skepticism of confirmed mitigation methods — mask-wearing, social distancing, avoiding giant crowds — and as an alternative tried to make your entire dialog about particular person freedom. The factor about particular person freedom is that you’re not free to do issues that impinge on others’ well being and security. Mitigating Covid-19 is not about people’ freedom, it is about collective motion. Trump’s lack of ability to know that’s indefensible — and Pence was not in a position to defend it.

* Susan Web page’s refereeing: Within the precise give-and-take of the controversy, Web page, the USA Immediately Washington bureau chief, struggled considerably. Probably the most obvious subject was that she merely couldn’t get both candidate to reply the questions requested of them. I misplaced rely of what number of instances Harris and Pence brazenly ignored the query Web page requested to provide what was, oftentimes, a rehearsed speech. (Probably the most obvious instance was when Harris took a Web page query about Biden’s age and whether or not they had talked about the potential for transferring presidential energy and spent two minutes simply strolling individuals via her life story.) The opposite drawback with how Web page dealt with the controversy was that she was merely unable to maintain Pence from going manner over his allotted time. She tried gamely, nevertheless it turned clear fairly early on that her “Mr. Vice President” interjection wasn’t stopping the Pence practice. She ought to have tried one other tactic. And naturally, slicing off candidates’ mics once they go over the agreed-upon time to reply questions is the actual answer right here — which is within the arms of the campaigns and the Commission on Presidential Debates, not Web page.

* Donald Trump/Joe Biden: Each Pence and Harris have been extra substantive and more practical than both of the lads who’re main their respective tickets. Sure, Trump made it unattainable to have a debate with any type of guidelines or decorum, however when Biden bought his probabilities in final week’s debate, he was decidedly mediocre. Like them or hate them, Pence and Harris proved they’re each higher debaters than their ticket mates on Wednesday evening.

* Plexiglass: The dividers protecting the candidates from respiration on one another have been all the craze of the pre-debate protection. And but they have been barely ever proven on display screen. Oh, and likewise: Every infectious disease expert said they were totally pointless.



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