VP Debate: A Less than Impressive Display All Around
On Monday night Tim Kaine immunized himself against any charge that he is a slick politician. While he was not terrible when he stuck to policy, for much of the debate he came off as an annoying jerk, making repeated interruptions as he hammered away on scripted talking points. Mike Pence is a slick politician who effectively parried Kaine's jabs by changing the subject or lying about statements by Trump that are well documented, public knowledge, nothing obscure about them.
Kaine has a reputation as a likable person. Maybe he is just a poor debater. Maybe he was poorly coached by Hillary Clinton's debate team. Clinton employed some of the same tactics in her debate and escaped unscathed because Donald Trump responded by leaning into her punches as he flailed away. This does not make me more enthusiastic about HRC.
The unfortunate fallout from Kaine’s dismal performance is that it gave the media an opening to balance the harsh critique of Trump after the first presidential debate with positive reviews for Pence when they should have been calling out his evasions and outright lies about Trump’s positions and statements. Fortunately, from my perspective, it is unlikely that Trump will learn from Pence. And we can hope that Clinton, Kaine, and their staff experts will adopt a different tack next time.