Wednesday, October 05, 2016

VP debate: quick impressions

Based on rightie and leftie commentary from my Twitter feed, everyone agrees that tonight's debate at Longwood University proves it's an upside-down presidential ticket: Pence and Kaine ought to be at the head, with Trump and Clinton running as VPs.

Kaine is apparently interrupting Pence as much as, or more frequently than, the debate's moderator (Elaine Quijano, Anchor, CBSN and Correspondent, CBS News).

The rightie consensus (unsurprising) is that the moderator is awful.

There have been scattered remarks that the entire debate is awful, but this doesn't dovetail with the observation and Pence and Kaine make for better presidential candidates. I assume the latter sentiment arises from the observation that Pence and Kaine are more articulate, more on-topic, more substantive, and generally smarter-sounding than their running mates are. If this is a higher quality of debate, then it can't be that awful.

Kaine is apparently taking a cue from Trump in terms of interrupting more and using phonetically memorable talking points ("deportation nation").

Overall, it sounds as though Pence is winning on charm points—being gentlemanly while Kaine interrupts him repeatedly. Kaine seems to be painting himself into a "Hillary's attack dog" role. We'll see how well that goes for him and Hillary, I suppose.

I'll await post-debate commentary on the substance of the debate before I say more.

UPDATE: Stephen Green's right-leaning wrap-up:

I usually write a quick wrap after each debate, but I don't know how to do that for you tonight.

This wasn't a debate. This was a two-on-one contest in which Mike Pence held his own on the issues where he's strong, and deflected when he could when held to account for the many careless/thoughtless/stupid things Trump has said as a candidate and as a private citizen.

Pence had a yeoman's task, and I suppose he handled it as well or better as anyone could have hoped or expected.

But it's impossible to take anything away from tonight's "debate," because the "fairness" was kangaroo court judge and the "balance" was Chris Christie on the opposite side of a teeter totter from an underfed Pomeranian.

So if we learned anything tonight, it's that Elaine Quijano is unfit to moderate a debate, and that Tim Kaine is as much of an ass as Hillary Clinton is conniving and corrupt.

And the real shame of it (other than Pence being on the bottom of the ticket) is that I spent so much time in slack-jawed wonder at the awfulness of it all, that I still haven't finished my fourth cocktail.

So if you'll excuse me, there's work yet to be done tonight.

UPDATE 2: a heretofore lifelong Democrat now managing a Trump SuperPAC calls the debate for Pence and shakes his head at what his former boss has become. (Full disclosure: is an unabashedly rightie site that has been called, by the left, an organ of propaganda. I agree with this assessment to the extent that Breitbart, like Michael Moore [and many others] on the left, makes no bones about its political agenda. That said, check the information in the article against reality before committing the genetic fallacy and simply dismissing it all out of hand.)

UPDATE 3: The Huffington Post, a leftie online rag, makes the case that Pence spent much of the debate trying to convince America that Donald Trump didn't actually say the awful things he's said. HuffPo also claims that Pence didn't actually defend Trump, per se: "Instead, he dodged or outright denied his running mate's statements." Make of that what you will.

UPDATE 4: The Washington Post calls it for Pence:

Winners: Mike Pence:

From the very beginning, Pence was the more comfortable of the two men on the debate stage. Pence repeatedly turned to the camera when he answered questions, making clear he understood that the real audience wasn't in the room but watching on TV. The Indiana governor was calm, cool and collected throughout — a stark contrast to the fast-talking (and seemingly nervous) Kaine. Did Pence respond to Kaine's dozens of attacks on Donald Trump? Only sort of. What Pence seemed to be doing was making the case for Pence-ism, a, dare I say it, compassionate conservatism — a case for Pence 2020 or 2024. Regardless, Trump will very much take it, as Pence's performance will offer a reset of sorts for a campaign that is scrambling badly due to self-inflicted wounds from the nominee. Win or lose in 24 days, Pence did himself real good in the eyes of the Republican world on Tuesday night.

UPDATE 5: Nate Silver's 538 is currently giving Hillary a 75-25 chance of winning the election. These odds probably don't reflect the aftermath of the vice-presidential debate; that's going to take a few days to sink in. Trump had been at a high of 45% on Silver's site; he's lost 20 percentage points since that high.

UPDATE 6: CNN's extremely jumbled, conflicted analysis (if taken as a whole) is here.

UPDATE 7: Styx calls it for Pence, saying Pence "decimated" Kaine on foreign policy, and noting that Kaine obsessively repeated a scripted attack on Trump's tax returns, even to the point of dodging substantive questions in order to remain focused on those tax returns. Styx says Pence had two good zingers for every one of Kaine's, and that Kaine seemed much less comfortable on camera. To my surprise, Styx loved the moderator, whom he considered perfectly fair in her management of the debate.


brier said...

I got the chance to watch about an hour of the debate. I could actually watch it. I couldn't watch the first presidential debate. That was too painful. Pence was, clearly staying true to himself and being a team player at the same time. I was impressed by his performance, if performance is the right word. Kaine was boorish. Really surprised a southern governor would lose his manners on national television.

The Clinton/Kaine team seems to live in a world where they should be given this election because they are entitled to it, is a take away I get from democratic party's candidates. And that rankles me a fair bit.

No good choices this election year.

Kevin Kim said...


I didn't watch any of the debate, but I think my own general sentiments are close to yours.

King Baeksu said...

King Baeksu signing in from downtown Andong, in North Kyongsong Province.

Just finished viewing the Veep Debate and I have to call it for Pence, without any reservations whatsoever.

Hubris seems to have infected the Clinton-Kaine campaign, and as a result Kaine totally missed the overriding objective of the night's debate: To win over independent and undecided voters. Instead, he spent most of the debate pandering to the Democratic base, and virtue-signaling to the liberal and progressive elite. In effect, Kaine was the archetypical Social Justice Warrior on steroids: Smug, sanctimonious, self-righteous, hectoring and extremely off-putting. Lord help us all if $hillary wins in November and croaks soon thereafter, for we will all have to endure a SJW-in-Chief who will only be satisfied when he literally implodes the entire country.

Kaine's strategy was to lie, spin and smear his opponents with all manner of innuendo and insults. He claimed, for instance, that it was the George W. Bush tax cuts that led to the Great Recession of 2008. Sorry, champ, but you can't pin that one on the GOP, since it was Bill Clinton's repeal of Glass–Steagall that allowed Wall $treet to run amok like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and directly led to the financial crisis. He also characterized Philando Castile as "Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks," when it seems likely that he was affiliated with the Crips and was a suspect in an armed robbery when he was pulled over and fatally shot. As for Kaine's attacks on Trump, I won't even go into them all because it would take me at least an hour to cover them properly: Suffice to say that Kaine simply repeated or regurgitated so many Huffington Post talking points that were long ago mostly debunked by credible sources, which only goes to show that Kaine cares little if anything about the actual truth. Gee, no wonder $hillary chose him as her rabid running dog, I mean, running mate!

Pence, on the other hand, was calm, measured and a paragon of restraint. Kaine interrupted him over seventy times, by some accounts, and yet Pence never once lost his temper or self-possession. I do believe that moderator Elaine Quijano biased as she allowed Kaine to interrupt Pence repeatedly, yet almost always called out Pence when he finally said, "Screw it!" and attempted to cut in a few times himself. I also disagree with the notion that Kaine's constant interruptions were at all comparable with what Trump did during his first debate with $hillary. Trump made perhaps a half dozen one-line interjections at the most, which were either corrections of outright lies or pithy comments to what $hillary was actually saying about him. In other words, they were on-topic and on-point. In contrast, Kaine's seemingly endless interruptions were mostly attempts to derail the discussion and distract from the topic at hand, and they often went completely off the rails. (Hello, the response to a North Korean missile attack is to have Trump release his tax returns?) Sorry, but he was not a good-faith participant by any measure.

Comment continued below

King Baeksu said...

Comment continued from above

In short, Kaine was an asshole and Pence was a paragon of classic Midwestern politeness and poise. At the same time, I doubt Kaine's constant pandering to social-justice warriors is going to appeal much to the two-thirds of Americans who are still white, or the many other blacks, Latinos and Asians who are entirely fed up with oppressive political correctness and the rent-seeking grievance industry. We should all recall that when Obama ran back in 2008, he was sold as the champion of a "post-racial America," which is a far more inclusive platform than the social-justice agenda, which at this point is perceived by many as privileging minority interests over those of the majority. More and more people are asking themselves these days, "Why can't we all just be fellow Americans?' which is precisely the message of Donald Trump.

For these reasons, I expect support for Trump to only increase after this debate.

Several months ago, I commented on this blog that the Democrats would likely attempt to run on a platform of identity politics, and that such a strategy would likely fail. While the social-justice rhetoric of "fairness" and "equality" for all sounds good, anyone who is halfway awake at this point knows that the Democratic Party's embrace of neoliberalism and neoconservatism over the past several decades only leads to ever-greater income inequality and wealth redistribution from the bottom to the top. For example, if you were wondering why the Democrats are so keen to keep importing hundreds of thousands of refugees from places like Syria or Somalia, it has far less to do with the goodness of their hearts and much more to do with the extremely lucrative refugee-resettlement industry, which of course is largely funded by the American taxpayer. The reason why the Trump message is resonating so widely is because millions of working-class Americans can see that he cares far more about their interests than does the modern-day Democratic Party, which pays lip service in public to social justice while privately stuffing its pockets with dirty money from lobbyists and the American taxpayer. Shame on them, I say, shame on them.

Finally, with regards to your comments on Breitbart, rather than saying it is a "right-wing" news site, it would be more accurate to say that it is a media outlet for the dissent right, and as a consequence widely reports on important issues that are simply ignored by the controlled mainstream media. For this reason, it is essential reading if you wish to have a more accurate view of what's actually happening in the US these days. And isn't being well-informed the responsibility of all voters in a democratic system? I should say so, but alas there are many Americans nowadays so seem to think that facts are "hateful" and that emotion trumps all, as ridiculous as that might actually sound.

And Clinton and Kaine are their standard bearers, by all measures. Vote for them at your peril, is all that I can say.

King Baeksu said...

Last comment for now: I have to disagree with the suggestion that the Trump-Pence ticket would be better with Pence at the top. It took an outsider like Trump, with the vision, financial resources and marketing chops to take on the entire rotten political establishment in the US. Pence has since seen the light, but prior to being tapped by Trump for VP, he was a classic "cuckservative" who was hardly a threat to the reigning status quo. The whole system is mad, which is why we need a madman to take it on. Trump rightly deserves his spot at the top of the ticket, for he has certainly earned it over the past year and then some.

There is a reason why the Trump movement is called "Trumpism." Without the man himself, it simply wouldn't exist.

King Baeksu said...

Trump gets a "Pence bounce" as predicted.