Live-Blogging the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) may make former Vice President Al Gore look like his old college roommate Tommy Lee Jones, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence gives off such an aw-shucks good-ol’-days vibe that even his hair is White, but we must have TOTAL COVERAGE!

10:35 pm: The Vice Presidential Debate closes-out: Senator Kaine notes both the professionalism and the respect commanded by Secretary Clinton; Governor Pence refrains on discontent with the results of the policy status quo at home and abroad, and offers Donald Trump as a multipurpose delivered.

In closing, Governor Pence has an admirably easygoing and calm demeanor; it’s almost enough for you to forget that he repeatedly referred to millions of illegal immigrants as “aliens” and angrily implicated them, and Syrian refugees just trying to survive, en masse in criminality.

10:22 pm: Senator Kaine is asked about the challenge of allowing his religion to inform his approach to government; he had an excellent and frank answer about being a Catholic and opposing the death penalty, and being elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which sustains the death penalty.  He says that he swore to uphold the laws of Virginia, and that he did so.

It’s interesting that when abortion comes up in the venue of this debate, he does not mention it as being a burden to his living of his religion even in running with an ardent Pro-Choicer in Secretary Clinton.

Governor Pence has an equally interesting but more policy-focused and less ethically-challenging answer on his Pro-Life views.  He implies, importantly, that he has a lot of support in this from the Indiana Legislature, and notes that to be Pro-Life one must be emphatically pro-adoption.

10:20 pm: “Governor Pence, I will give you 20 seconds to respond, but I would like to remind you gentlemen that the question was about North Korea.”  Ms. Quijano does have a surprisingly taxing job before her with a debate that is following its own frenzied logic.

10:20 pm: Well-done, Senator Kaine: While defending the work and the outside certifications of the Clinton Foundation, Kaine manages to completely-narrate 1 of Trump’s many scandals: The Trump Foundation was cited for a violation of its non-profit status in giving $2,500 to the reelection campaign of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who subsequently dropped a massive fraud case against Trump University.

Governor Pence shakes his head and does not touch this one.

10:07 pm: Senator Kaine notes that he has mentioned inflammatory comments by Trump 6 times, and on no occasion has Governor Pence defended or even circumscribed the strange outbursts from his running mate.

I must say, when Senator Kaine observed that Donald Trump called for more nations to build nuclear weapons, and that if they should use them on other countries or if they fell into the hands of terrorists then that was on them, it was a defeat for the Trump-Pence ticket when Governor Pence couldn’t do anything but shake his head in response.  It almost looked like he was thinking, “I know, that’s really scary.”

10:00 pm: Senator Kaine again hits on Trump’s expressed admiration of Russian President-for-Life Vladimir Putin, noting that his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was let go due to his shadowy connections to pro -Russian Ukrainian government officials and Russian Oligarchs; again, Governor Pence shakes his head but doesn’t respond.

This time he throws in a red-meat line: “Governor Pence has said, ‘Inarguably, Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama.'”  Ouch: Senator Kaine notes Putin’s military oppression of gays and transgender people, his repression of journalists.  “Anyone who can’t tell the difference between leadership and dictatorship needs to go back to civics class.”  Governor Pence takes exception but doesn’t explain the comment further.

9:56 pm: Senator Kaine makes a tactical use of exaggeration, asserting that Trump had called NATO “obsolete”.  Governor Pence lets the tactical exaggeration stand.

9:45 pm: Senator Kaine says, in the context of promoting Secretary Clinton’s proposed Middle East security policy, that “Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter War with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot.”  Governor Pence solemnly shakes his head, but doesn’t offer a response to Kaine’s charge that Trump lacks a statesman’s temperament.

9:43 pm: During a long and surprisingly- charged exchange, Governor Pence says, “We have a deportation force: It’s called Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  For the first time in its history, it has endorsed Donald Trump for President.”

That, I think, was Governor Pence’s biggest mistake of the Debate thus far; he solidifies Hispanic and other immigrant-minority group aversion to the Trump-Pence ticket more than he gains acknowledgement from undecided voters.

9:41 pm: Senator Kaine smartly notes that Trump and Governor Pence have proposed deporting more than 11 million people from the United States, because in addition to proposing the deportation of illegal immigrants frm the United States (itself a cruel and impractical act), they want to end birthright citizenship– which is enshrined in the 14th Amendment.  Governor Pence cringes but lets the point stand.

9:24 pm: Senator Kaine and Governor Pence, in the latter’s words, “at the risk of agreeing with” each other, both talk about community policing.  Senator Kaine lands 2 good hits, referring more than once to Trump’s support for stop-and-frisk police profiling, and noting that Governor Pence actually said that we should stop making a political issue of a long history of police shootings of unarmed or crimimally uncharged Black men.  Pence’s callous dismissal of vulnerable people is far more-genteel than Trump’s tends to be, but he’s still just telling Black civil rights protesters to sit down and shut up.

9:18 pm-9:24 pm: Governor Pence gets a little more-spirited during an exchange over government spending and taxes.  Governor Pence was a close ally of now-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on taxation and spending issues; he lays the blame for underemployment (unemployment and even wage stickiness are no longer as compelling issues as they were, so Governor Pence has to proscribe the critique he made of President Obama when he was in the House of Representatives.  Basically, this whole exchange is still a barely-inflected trading of optimistic and pessimistic economic projections.

I do notice that Governor Pence seems to have less to say about Trump’s tax and spending proposals that Senator Kaine does about Secretary Clinton’s.  He is eager to go on the attack against President Obama’s record and Secretary Clinton’s proposals, but he tiptoes around the weeds that are his running mate’s economic plans.

9:13 pm: Senator Kaine really is interrupting Governor Pence too much; he almost seems to be protesting that he  can speak during what is effectively Governor Pence’s turn.  Kaine cleverly launches into a list of favorable changes under Secretary Clinton’s stewardship– the killing of Osama bin-Laden, the Iranian nuclear program deal, the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia, and the drawdown of the large military deployment in Iraq.  Governor Pence gives the single hardest blow here, though, asserting that President Obama is responsible for the chaos that the Islamic State has caused in Iraq owing to his precipitous withdrawal of our forces there.

It’s not clear if that reflects on Secretary Clinton, though, as she is well-known to be more-hawkish and assertive in her foreign policy style than President Obama.

9:12 pm: Senator Kaine makes the first interruption, calling Governor Pence out for Trump’s claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a good leader.  It’s a little incongruous.

9:08 pm: Governor Pence includes among his opening remarks the aside, “–Senator Kaine, it is an honor to be here with you…”  Why, in 2016 such respect and courtesy is…positively un-Presidential!

9:07 pm: “We trust Hillary Clinton, my wife and I, with the most-important thing in our life…”  Senator Kaine compellingly ends his introductory remarks by offering his personal confidence that a President Clinton would used the Armed Forces prudently — both Kaine and Pence have a son in the Marine Corps–and that “the prospect of a Donald Trump Presidency terrifies us.”

9:05 pm: Elaine Quijano: “It truly is a pleasure to be here with both of you tonight.”  Sure, because the probability of a marathon of verbal abuse and unwarranted interruptions is very low tonight.

9:04 pm: Even moderator Elaine Quijano already seems mildly-sedated, before these 2 barn-burning running mates even stride onto the stage.

9:00 pm: Americans are notoriously overworked and sleep-deprived, so a Kaine-Pence debate may be just what we need–specifically, the cure for insomnia.

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