Pence Fails to Rescue Trump
Vice President Mike Pence had an impossible task Wednesday night.
He needed to defend the indefensible. He needed to win female voters back. And he needed to convince the American people to vote for a Mad President and extend the White House’s most famous infected resident’s Reign of Incompetence on the country.
He failed in every way.
Sure, Pence delivered the administration’s case in a softer, more polished manner than Donald Trump did during last week’s wild debate. He spoke in complete sentences, and he didn’t come off as an unhinged maniac.
But the stain of Trumpism remained. It can’t be washed away. Pence can argue that the administration’s actions saved countless lives, but we all know more than 210,000 Americans are dead. He can demand Sen. Kamala Harris answer his question about court-packing, and claim Democrats want to change the rules, but it’s Republicans who fabricated the notion that you can’t replace a Supreme Court Justice during an election year, and then immediately went the other way.
If Pence’s objective was to win back educated, suburban female voters, he definitely didn’t achieve that. There is nothing educated women likes less than being constantly interrupted, or having a man try to run roughshod over them.
Pence managed to do almost everything that infuriates women in the workplace. Harris had to scold him like a teacher would a schoolboy when he wouldn’t let her talk. He “mansplained” her previous job as California’s Attorney General to her. He steadfastly refused to stay within the allotted time on every occasion it was his turn to speak.
Moderator Susan Page said the phrase, “Thank you, Mr. Vice President,” dozens and dozens of times. Pence just repeatedly ignored her and kept talking.
For an administration that has a problem with women, this was hardly the way to win them over.
Unlike last week’s presidential fiasco, this debate looked like an actual coherent exchange of ideas between two cogent candidates. For the most part, the discourse was civil. Nobody put out a call to white nationalists to stand by, and it was, for the most part, rather boring.
In fact, the evening’s most indelible moment came when a fly attached itself to Pence’s head for the better part of three minutes. Like a pro, the vice president appeared completely unphased, as he spoke straight through the episode, hardly seeming to notice.
The candidates discussed a wide range of topics, from COVID-19, to climate change, foreign relations, the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act, racial tensions and whether Trump would concede defeat. Pence expertly toed the party line, and shamelessly repeated much of the president’s prevarications, like he has from the moment he was named Trump’s running mate four years ago. Nothing changed in that regard.
The problem for Trump and Pence is they now have a record. And their record is historically poor. Not only have they failed to protect the American people from the coronavirus, they have failed to protect themselves, their staffs and their allies.
After millions of Americans from all walks of life have taken to the streets to demand racial justice, Pence told the American people that there is no such thing as systemic racism.
Perhaps the starkest divide between the two candidates, and the two Americas they represent, came at the very end. After it was all over, Mike Pence’s wife approached her husband without a mask, while Kamala Harris’s husband approached his wife with his mask still covering his face.
One side of the aisle clearly respects America and Americans, while the other side does not.
It was all there on display for everyone to see.