The consensus among pundits, commentators and flash polls is that Mike Pence won his vice presidential debate against Tim Kaine Tuesday night. I don’t agree with that analysis as I found Pence to be smug and disingenuous in his strategic decision to ignore Donald Trump’s and his own records and in his outright deceptions that events and statements by them never transpired.
Yes, Kaine obnoxiously interrupted Pence way too often. And perhaps Kaine seemed too programmed repeating the same mantra of Trump’s vacuousness. But can you blame him? Pence refused to acknowledge reality. It was as if Pence lives in a bizarro world where left is right and right is left, or put another way, where according to bizarro Trump and Pence, Mexicans are upstanding people and should be welcomed with open arms across our borders, where our prisoners of war like John McCain are respected and not degraded because they were captured, where women are not objectified or derided because of their appearance, where nuclear arms are to be contained, not proliferated, where Russian leader Vladimir Putin is rebuked as a despot, where candidates for president willingly disclose their tax returns to demonstrate they have no potential conflicts of interest should they take office, and where Barack Obama is hailed as the groundbreaking first Afro-American president of the United States.
Pence may have won on style points but on substance he came in second in a two-man field.
I watched the debate on CBS. The commentators praised moderator Elaine Quijano. Naturally. She is a CBS colleague. I liked her questions but she lost control of the debate early on and never really recovered her dominion.
I was more distressed by comments from a focus group of some two dozen undecided voters in Ohio. Recently, Ohio was considered Trump territory rather than a battleground state because its population skews older and whiter. The focus group reflected that demographic composition.
Kaine’s aggressive demeanor turned off the undecideds and apparently obscured Pence’s evasiveness. Pence and the focus group exhibited collective amnesia to Trump’s campaign of the last 15 months. Pence dismissed Trump’s verbal assaults as the pronouncements of a non politician unaccustomed to couching rhetoric in more muted, acceptable tones.
Yet, if we were to accept that explanation how would the public know exactly what Trump stands for? Why would we believe anything he has said? After all, his whole campaign has been based on his telling it like it is, that he is not an establishment politician.
The focus group swallowed the deception almost to a man and woman. Fortunately, for those who care, there is ample video and audio to set the record straight (http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/trump-said-mike-pence-claimed-did-not-229171).
No matter, we are being told, the election will not be won or lost based on the undertickets’ performances. The election will turn on how millennials vote and whether they actually do cast a ballot. Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995, number about 80 million.
It is hard for me to understand their antipathy toward Hillary Clinton when compared to Trump and the fringe candidates Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
Are they not interested in health care, especially the provision that permits many of them to be covered by their parents’ medical plans up to age 26? Trump and Republicans want to dismantle Obamacare, not amend it as Clinton wants to to correct deficiencies in the program.
Are they not interested in no or lower tuition at colleges and universities, as Clinton has advocated?
Are they not interested in solving the student debt crisis as Clinton has proposed?
Are they not interested in equal pay for women, a mainstay of Clinton’s candidacy?
Are they not interested in addressing climate change as Clinton has advanced, compared to the denial of climate change by Trump and Republicans?
Are they not interested in a higher minimum wage as Clinton has recommended versus Trump’s suggestion to do away with a minimum federal wage?
There comes a time when young adults have to grow up. Idealism is a virtue that can be ill-afforded this election. The choice is stark. Permitting Donald Trump to win the presidency would set the country back decades and insure that the remainder of the years millennials live would be stained by discriminatory legislation legalized by a regressive Supreme Court packed by a chief executive who engages in Twitter wars instead of thoughtful, fact-based discourse.