The Runback: Debate Society

The Weird Week in Debates and Non-Debates

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Episode #6 is Here

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News and Politics

Culture

Sports

The Monday Thought

The Debate about Debates is never riveting.

On Wednesday night, Vice-President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris engaged in the only Vice-Presidential Debate of this Election Cycle. It also may be the most normal debate of the election cycle as well, seeing it was not nearly the debacle that the first Presidential Debate was.

Analyzing the results, it was a clear win for Vice-President Pence. He dominated in all aspects of the debate and clearly won the debate on both style and in substance. No, he was not perfect; his insistence on talking past the moderator and talking over Senator Harris was offputting and something that he should not have done. But Pence is a professional and gets got the job done. He looked twice as Presidential as the President did, that’s for sure.

Senator Harris kept talking to the Vice-President smugly and condescendingly the entire night. Her facial expressions were off-putting. Her outright lies about fracking and taxes certainly did not help her cause either.

What does it mean for the Presidential horserace? Absolutely nothing because nobody makes their vote for President based on who the nominees select as Vice-President. Especially this year, when the election is basically a referendum on President Trump’s job performance (and those numbers look atrociously bad right now for the President and the entire Republican Party).

Do you remember anything about any Vice-Presidential Debate? You probably remember one of two things.

You might remember this from 1988.

What you might not remember is that Senator Dan Quayle became Vice-President Dan Quayle during this election, an election the Bush-Quayle ticket won in a 426-111 electoral college route. The last election that Republicans carried California, or Maryland, or New Jersey.

You may also remember this.

It was an unfortunate line that has defined Admiral Stocksdale’s life. A war hero and Medal of Honor recipient reduced to a punchline. He deserves to be remembered for more than this.

Ross Perot finished a third in the election. This debate performance had nothing to do with it.

Pence’s performance was good and convincing. But it could undo none of the damage of the 1st Presidential Debate.

President Trump might have had the opportunity to undo the damage in the 2nd Debate. But this week’s scheduled debate has been canceled due to the President’s COVID diagnosis and the decision of the Commission on Presidential Debates to turn the debate into a virtual debate.

A virtual debate was never gonna fly with anybody. There are already enough bonkers conspiracy theories regarding Joe Biden’s performance in the first debate (my favorite was that Biden had some sort of contact lenses to feed him answers. Doing the debate remotely was just going to create an entirely new set of debate-related conspiracy theories that Biden was somehow cheating.

The idea of a remote debate isn’t new, incidentally. The first remote debate was held in…..1960.

President Trump’s refusal to debate probably hurts him more than it helps him. Usually it is beneficial to frontrunners to have fewer debates, not more. Trump’s deficit, somewhere between 12 and 17 points, is not going to be helped by not having a debate, even if Trump’s disastrous first debate performance contributed to his latest deficit.

The final debate is currently scheduled for October 22nd in Nashville. Will Trump show up? Will it matter? Stay tuned……