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Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Quote Donald Trump, insult Donald Trump

by Tom Sullivan

As the saying goes, that was 90 minutes of your life you'll never get back. "Borderline unwatchable," wrote Chris Cillizza of the vice presidential debate:

There was so much crosstalk and so little actual question answering that it felt like watching two kids throw mashed potatoes at one another. (Actually, watching two kids throw mashe dpotoatoes at one another would have been a heck of a lot more entertaining.)
Last night, the only time Sen. Tim Kaine and Gov. Mike Pence were not talking past each other was when they were talking over each other. The debate was remarkable mostly for how disjointed the questioning was and for Pence and Kaine interrupting each other largely unchecked by moderator Elaine Quijano. Neither the candidates nor the moderator looked good.

Except Pence came out looking better in debate than Donald Trump. He kept his cool. "Calm, smooth, and steady," showing his chops from a stint in conservative talk radio. Pence steadily denied over and over things Donald Trump said on camera and accused Kaine of an “avalanche of insults.” Jamelle Bouie at Slate writes:
These insults? These insults were quotes. Kaine was quoting Donald Trump, telling viewers that Trump had called Mexicans “rapists and criminals” (true); that he had called women “slobs, pigs, dogs, and disgusting” (true); and that he had attacked an Indiana-born federal judge “and said he was unqualified to hear a federal lawsuit because his parents were Mexican” (also true).

Despite the obvious truth of everything on display, Pence’s response was to call these quotes—taken almost verbatim from Trump—a kind of “insult” against the Republican ticket. And so it continued for the next 90 minutes.
Yet even as Pence complained of an "insult driven" campaign from the Democrats, Trump was undermining him on Twitter:

Clinton, watching, replied:

You'd have thought Donald Trump would have relished being the center of any attention. Except whenever Pence had a chance to defend him, Pence backed away, contradicting his boss on support for Vladimir Putin, nuclear proliferation and more.

For his part, Kaine seemed wedged into a suit that didn't fit. He had practiced his lines well, but delivered them hurriedly so as to get them out before he got cut off. His constant interruptions likely did not play well with viewers and undermined his image as genuine. Pence had him on poise, but poise in denying the truth. Kaine promoted Clinton's record, while Pence denied Trump's.

Nothing was resolved last night: no fatal blows landed, no polls moved. USA Today encapsulated the problem:

In a conversation about the economy, Kaine attempted to make the case that the economy has been recovering under President Obama — 15 million jobs created, Kaine said, and median income is rising. Pence's reply was fascinating: "Senator, you can roll out the numbers and the sunny side, but I got to tell you, people in Scranton know different. People in Fort Wayne, Ind., know different. I mean, this economy is struggling." This is the core distinction of these campaigns: the Democrats' half-full take versus the Republicans' half-empty view of America, distilled in a few lines of a vice presidential debate.
As unfavorable news continues to trickle out about Trump's tax avoidance and trickle-down economic policies, it seems more likely Donald Trump is really running for the chance to empty America's other half.