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The Vice Presidential Debate

“I Will Not Sit Here and Be Lectured by the Vice President”—October 8, 2020

Only eight days ago. Was it just that brief a time period between the first Biden-Trump presidential debate and the Vice- Presidential debate between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence? Apparently so, according to our non-lying calendars, although it feels like eons ago. Between these two debates, Donald and his wife Melania have tested positive for COVID-19. Trump had to be hospitalized at D.C.’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 10/02/2020-10/05/2020. A lot of people working in and with the White House, including top military officials, Congressmembers, and staffers have also tested positive. It looks like one big super-spreader event was the 9/26/2020 White House Rose Garden party where Trump introduced his Supreme Ct. nominee Amy Coney Barrett to an overwhelmingly non-mask wearing packed together group of GOP loyalists and friends (See Silverman & Alonso, cnn.com, 10/02/20). Contagious Demagogue Donald was rightfully criticized for returning to the White House on 10/05/2020 and staging a photo op where he walked up to the top of that residence’s stairs to a balcony and brazenly removed his mask. He was then seen gasping for breath. Had he always worn that mask since he was warned in late 1/2020 about the dangers of the coronavirus and strictly observed social distancing, which he sure hasn’t, he might never have contacted this illness and dangerously spread it to others. The coronavirus pandemic has already killed over 211,000 Americans and keeps on raging.

VP Pence and his Democratic rival CA Senator Kamala Harris have, so far, tested negative for COVID-19. Therefore, the one and only VP debate between the two of them went on as scheduled on 10/07/2020. In this hour-and-one half proceeding in Salt Lake City, UT, where they were separated by plexiglass for COVID-19 protection, Pence tried to defend Donald’s actions in the face of this pandemic, the major issue in this debate (wsj.com, Siddiqui, 10/07/20). Harris correctly attacked the Trump-Pence pathetic response to this ongoing crisis. Harris criticized Trump’s poor record on the economy, as well as his pick of reactionary Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court seat left vacant by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent death. Harris challenged Trump’s poor response on environmental issues, his attempts to overturn Obamacare, and his terrible foreign policy record. Pence painted a “great” (NOT) record of all of Trump’s actions and argued for “four more years,” what VP’s must do for their incumbent bosses.

Compared to the train wreck/”sh*tshow” of the Trump-Biden first presidential debate, the VP confrontation “looked” better. Appearances, however, don’t capture the entire story. Pence still employed the tactics of his boss, Demagogue Donald, just in a “smoother” way. Remember, before entering politics, Pence was a talk show host (Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac). Pence repeatedly spoke more than he was allowed to and kept interrupting Kamala. Senator Harris had to say to him what far too many women have often said or wanted to say in similar situations to boorish interrupting men, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking (See 10/07/20 VP Debate).” As moderator Chris Wallace was unable to stop interrupting Donald, VP debate moderator, Susan Page, similarly, failed to stop Pence’s “calmer” sounding version of Mr. Donald “Butting In” Trump. CNN commentator Frida Ghitis said it all. She called Pence “Donald Trump-light,” a fellow who also told falsehoods, interrupted others, and ignored the rules. However, since Pence could, unlike Donald, “put together complete sentences, Pence was able to pack more whoppers per second than Trump did in last week’s deranged presidential debate (Ghitis, cnn.com, opinion, 10/08/20).” IMHO, Pence’s Donald debate will not help his boss or him with many women voters, a key electoral demographic. As in Demagogue Donald’s case, Pence lied, lied, and lied. He repeatedly ducked directly answering questions throughout the whole debate. Of course, with Trump’s record, Pence could not employ any other tactics. Let’s discuss the highlights and “low lights” of this debate.

From her opening remarks, Kamala strongly and swiftly condemned the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus. She spoke of the 210,000 Americans who have died and more than 7.5 million of them who have contracted the disease. Kamala stated, “The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.” She added that frontline workers had been treated like “sacrificial workers,” and that Trump had repeatedly minimized the seriousness of the virus, while discouraging people from wearing masks (cnn.com, Reston & Collinson, 10/07/20). Kamala correctly accused the Trump administration of “knowing what was happening and covering it up (latimes.com, Barabak & Rainey, 10/07/20).” Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, was put on and stayed on defense. If the coronavirus pandemic weren’t so tragic, Pence’s reply to Kamala that “Trump has put the health of America first,” was laughable. Pence went really low by accusing the Biden-Harris ticket of “politicizing the speed of the vaccine production and of playing politics with people’s lives.” He also accused Biden and Harris of “stealing” the Trump-Pence plan, (what non-existent plan?), to fight the pandemic. Pence called the Biden-Harris anti-COVID-19 plan a little like “plagiarism, something Biden knows a little bit about.” That political “below-the-belt” crack about plagiarism referred to Biden allegedly using without reference a speech by a British politician that forced Biden to abandon his first presidential run in 1988. When Kamala charged that Trump had “lost the trade war with China,” Pence accused Biden of being a “cheerleader for communist China” for decades (latimes.com, Barabak & Rainey). From his grave, Richard Nixon would have been proud of Pence for employing such false anti-Communist drivel. Pence had the nerve, during this debate, to brag about hitting China with tariffs, something that has hurt numerous farmers in Iowa and neighboring states (See VP 10/07/20 Debate).

When Pence bragged about the jobs Trump and he had supposedly created, Kamala shot back, “Ridiculous, You and Donald Trump have reigned over a recession that is being compared to the (1930’s) Great Depression (latimes.com, Barabak & Rainey, 10/0720).” When Pence kept lying about how Biden would raise taxes on the middle class and how Obama and Biden had caused people to lose jobs (ridiculous), Kamala destroyed Pence with this one line, “Joe Biden is responsible for saving America’s auto industry, and you (as a Congressman), voted against it. So let’s set the record straight (10/07/20 Debate).”

Kamala noted several times that Demagogue Donald was now arguing before the Supreme Court to have Obamacare repealed. With Amy Coney Barrett on the High Court bench for this argument which will be heard one week after the election, Obamacare, could be easily repealed. Kamala strongly stated, “If you have a pre-existing condition—heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer—they’re (Trump-Pence) coming for you. Literally in the midst of a public health pandemic… Donald Trump is at court right now trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (wsj.com, Siddiqui).” Pence proudly talked of how he was anti-choice, a position not supported by a majority of Americans. Pence proudly spoke of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a brilliant jurist being “attacked” for her Catholicism. Give me a break! Kamala correctly said that Biden would only be the second Catholic President, should he win, after JFK (See 10/07/20 VP Debate). Judge Amy Coney Barrett will surely bring to the Supreme Court an anti-choice position and was vetted by the Trump White House to be sure she would maintain such a viewpoint. She is certainly for overturning Roe v. Wade and could easily supply the key vote for such a ruling. Kamala also taught all of us a history lesson. In the debate, she attacked the GOP for rushing Circuit Court Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court before the election. Kamala took us back to the election of 1864. GOPer Abraham Lincoln was then President and was fighting the very bloody Civil War. Although the Senate had a Republican majority at that time, and it looked like the Union would finally defeat the Confederacy, Lincoln stated that he would only put forth a Supreme Court nominee after the election was held so that the American people could have their say (10/07/20 VP Debate). GOPers, you claim you are the Party of Lincoln. Listen to your first President on this matter. Kamala spoke of how Trump failed to denounce white supremacists at the last debate. She added that Trump’s calling neo-Nazis and KKKers at the fatal 2017 Charlottesville race riot “very fine people” pushed Biden into running in 2020. Pence’s anemic reply? He denied that Trump had equivocated on white supremacy. Pence said that Trump has Jewish grandchildren and that his daughter Ivanka is now Jewish as is his son-in-law Jared (10/07/20 VP Debate, jta.org, Kampeas, 10/07/20).” Yes, “some of my best relatives are Jewish.” Therefore, I can’t be a bigot. Get real!

When the issue of the protests over the deaths of innocent blacks by the police came up, Pence hit hard on the law and order racist dog-whistle theme. He attacked the demonstrators as if they were all violent protestors. Kamala stated that the protestors were mainly peaceful and that she was the only candidate as a district attorney and her state’s Attorney General with direct experience on the issues of criminal justice. In the sound bite of the debate, Kamala stated, “I will not sit here and be lectured by the vice president about what it means to enforce the laws of our country (wsj.com, Siddiqui, 10/07/20).” Exactly. No one should be lectured by the Trump-Pence team on anything. They have completely zero credibility.

A post-debate CNN instant poll found that 59% of those who watched thought Kamala had won the debate v. 38% who thought Pence did. A lot of comments and laughter revolved around a fly that landed and stayed on Pence’s head for 2 minutes and three seconds (nytimes.com, 10/07/20). Yes, winning snap post-debate polls and laughing at a fly is fun, but, again, as Biden and Kamala stated in their respective debates, the only way to stop Trump and his rabid base is to vote, vote, and vote. To quote Boston politician Honey Fitz, JFK’s maternal grandfather, the only poll that counts is the one taken on Election Day. There are more of us than the Trump-Pence fanatics. The only way to take our democracy back is to vote in droves plus by mail or at the ballot box in the lead-up to or on Election Day.

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