It’s a pretty clear consensus across the media and the Internet that Mike Pence won last night’s Vice Presidential Debate. His collected demeanor was vastly more likable than Tim Kaine’s, primarily because Tim Kaine acted as much like Donald Trump during the debate as he could. And it backfired gloriously. One of the big negatives on Pence’s performance, however, is that he didn’t defend Donald Trump once. Every time Kaine asked him to defend something Trump said, Pence dodged it. The Media is obviously going to jump all over that, but there is a flip side to it.
Not once did Tim Kaine really defend Hillary Clinton, either.
The very first question of the night was to Kaine. “Why don’t the American people trust Hillary Clinton?” His answer was “Let me tell you why I trust her.” He didn’t touch that question with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole. When the topic about the e-mail scandal came up, he didn’t really say anything.
Granted, it was kind of the point. Kaine was sent out to do two things. The first was to prosecute Trump, which he did in a wholly annoying manner that didn’t help his cause in the long run. The second thing he was sent out to do was get under Pence’s skin. And he didn’t do that well, either. So, this wasn’t just Pence’s victory. It was Kaine’s loss.
He could not do anything to build up his own candidate. He was too busy attacking Trump. He started on a couple of avenues in building her up, but he let himself get sidetracked by his own overriding task of yelling about Trump. You simply can’t make someone you work for look better if you are too busy making yourself look worse, and that’s why Kaine’s performance was so bad.
And you’re not going to hear anyone really mention this point. Why? Because that’s not the narrative they really want out of this night. Here are the three things people will be talking about for the next couple of days.
The cycle has to focus on Trump. That’s where the viewership (and, therefore, the money) is. They don’t really want to focus on Kaine’s performance either because that’s their guy. The Media ultimately wants Clinton/Kaine to win, so just ignoring Kaine’s lack of debate skills and focusing on Trump’s campaign is how they’re going to handle this situation. You know it, and I know it.
But pay attention to the fact that Kaine couldn’t successfully defend Clinton. Pay attention to the fact that he couldn’t compliment her without insulting Pence and Trump. That says a great deal about the quality of the candidate he’s running with. And it’s amazing how far they are going to have to go to convince people that she’s not really all that bad. Maybe just misunderstood.
We know better, though. And deep down? So do they.
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