America won. Political respectability has been temporarily restored. Hope still is alive. Election Day is less than a month away.
If a winner had to be declared after Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate, the raised hand would belong to the comportment of both debaters. Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris did the country a solid. Both returned a bit of much needed civility and dignity to this year’s campaign process. The debate concluded with a moderator who probably could go to sleep afterwards without the need for a pharmaceutical aid.
After last week’s debate debacle between headliners President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, salvaging the national political process was the only expectation of the party ticket mates. And separated by political agenda, plexiglass and at least 12 feet, they delivered in 90 quick minutes.
Of course, if you have friends on both sides of the political aisle and you solicit their review of the vice presidential debate, you could expect a declaration of victory along partisan lines. And both would be fairly accurate. Both parties can be satisfied with the performance of their respective vice-presidential candidate. They didn’t lose any ground.
If this year’s campaign season was a retail establishment, it would give some credence to the thought if you really want an issue resolved, seek out the assistant manager. Pence and Harris debated like a retail assistant manager trying to prevent losing a customer for life. They conducted themselves as if they had something to prove. And they do. They have to show they are capable of doing the job if called upon while also showing unwavering support for the person they are assisting.
Pence and Harris stood firm in holding their respective party agendas while appearing nothing like their ticket mates. Both gave some answers to substantive topics while refraining from personal attacks we have become accustomed to. Both looked and acted presidential, returning some sense of normalcy to the debate process.
Mike Pence was stoic, projecting wisdom and courage, remaining unwavering in his support of the president’s agenda. Kamala Harris was uninhibited and demonstrative, the epitome of a lead cheerleader of a middle-of-the-pack team. Yes, there were a few interruptions and some needed reminders from the moderator about exceeding time limits. There were occasional terse comebacks but no outright insults and some nonverbal expressions that would make a mime envious.
I actually enjoyed the jousting between Pence and Harris. But reading some of the post-debate commentary, I was left wondering if I had watched the same debate as some national pundits.
Some of their interpretations were beyond political leaning. They were laughable. “Pence conducted a masterclass.” “Pence executed substantive attacks against Biden.” “Pence releases his inner Trump.” “Kamala Harris flopped in epic fashion.” “Harris knocked the tar out of Pence.” “The night belonged to Harris.” And, “There was a fly on Pence’s head.” Now, that I saw, too.
I watched the vice-presidential debate for two reasons: hope for a return to political decency and to know whether my friends from both party affiliations were lying to me when they told me how their candidate just annihilated the other party candidate. I was not let down.
The debate was fun. I laughed instead of cringing. I applauded instead of muting the audio. I ended up needing sleep instead of needing a drink.
Will there be two more presidential debates? That is being debated. Do we need two more? We do not. We have seen and heard enough. We would all be best served by closing out the debate season on a high note.
America won Wednesday night. That matters.