After the obnoxious first presidential debate debacle starring narcissistic moderator Chris Wallace, with guest appearances by President Donald Trump and Joe Biden, hopes and dreams for civil discourse are now pinned on the looming vice-presidential showdown. In what is sure to set a much different tone, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Vice President Mike Pence will take the stage at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct. 7 to bring sweetness and light to an otherwise unseemly political match-up.
Perhaps the veep debate will be a more polite and reserved affair, with thoughtful, articulate, uninterrupted responses and less name-calling. And Americans may very well learn about positions and issues if not bored to tears by the exchange.
In the last 72 hours, pundits openly discussed the 25th Amendment and what would constitute incapacitation of the president who was in Walter Reed hospital for what now seems like a mild case of COVID-19. Trump was back at the White House soon enough, irritating the doom-and-gloomers and derailing talk of remove and replace.
That settled, the two camps have finally come to terms on the debate and will be on stage for the all-important civil discussion about platforms, plans, and who should get to select the next china pattern at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But America may not recognize the backdrop for the running mates.
A Rat Maze for the Cheese
Fears of spreading the invisible bug have the Commission on Presidential Debates coming to the rescue in hopes it can curb the aerosol-cloud threatening to envelop Pence, Harris, and the socially distanced moderator. To achieve such a miraculous feat — preventing the diffusion of contagion — a rat maze of plexiglass protection has been erected, keeping everyone in an assigned position, with coughing, wheezing, and sneezing captured in see-through enclosures. Brilliant.
Pence agreed to the stipulation but was opposed to the idea, as Katie Miller, a Pence spokeswoman, offered: “If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it.”
The Harris camp supported the idea in lockstep with the Democratic regime of scaring folks into submission. Still, no one was called a “clown” so at least consensus was found without rancor.
Beyond the Weird – Regular Hurdles Like Race
Both Pence and Harris will promote their top dogs and, in doing so, reflect on accomplishments and what is yet to come. Expect the law-and-order drumbeat from Pence and the more progressive platforms of Green New Deal and Medicare for All from Harris. There is likely to be a stark difference of priorities enunciated by a woman from an extremely progressive party and the evangelical Christian from Indiana, deep inside the Silent Majority territory.
Harris is a former prosecutor and an adversarial opponent. But she can also come off cross and rather angry, perhaps because of the undercurrent of the maddening double standard: Simply, she must balance her former profession with the job she is now applying for with the American electorate. Considering her performance during the confirmation hearings of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, she must be practicing the delicate balance of biting her tongue lest she bite it off entirely.
The vice president’s biggest challenge will be addressing the attacks from the left in handling the pandemic. It is hoped, however, that each candidate will follow debate rules, not interrupt, and allow the messages of both camps to be heard and digested. It may also be a fine line to walk, answering for candidate Biden’s continual denigration of people of color. Not using slurs, the man has found unique and creative ways to address skin colors in hues not seen when he looks about his family and the medicine chest mirror.
If somehow Pence can remind Harris of such Biden assertions as “some black woman was stocking the shelf” so he could sleep for hours in his Delaware hidey-hole, and such gaffes as “poor kids are just as smart as white kids,” and such all-important declarations as “if you don’t vote for me, you ain’t black” without coming off as a bully, it might be a winning strategy. Harris will have to scramble to explain why a woman of color who basically called Biden a racist on the presidential primary stage is cool with it now.
The One to Watch
The vice-presidential debate is undoubtedly the one to watch to get an idea of the Republican and Democratic platform and plans. Unless personalities drastically change, it should be a civil exchange with low-key barbs thrown about the bad orange man and a party intent on imposing socialism on this constitutional republic. But unlike debates of running mates past, America will be watching these two as potential occupants of the Oval Office. At 77, Biden is seemingly physically fit but mentally deteriorating; at 74, the president contracted COVID and is a tad out of shape. Nevertheless, this may be the most critical presidential debate in our lifetime – the one where the understudy is suddenly the main event.
Read more from Sarah Cowgill.