I want to offer a commentary on last night’s vice presidential debate – let’s say from a black perspective. I am not a political scientist, but I have common sense. It was more of a proxy war between this year’s presidential candidates than a contest about capabilities of the two men on stage. It was kinda like an unfair fight because Gov. Mike Pence had to try to defend the indefensible Donald Trump. He did so by doing the GOP tried and true tactic of conjuring up a candidate who does not exist; Reagan by sticking to a muscular foreign policy, small government and traditional Christian values. It was as if he was defending the running mate he wished he had.
To the extent that he succeeded in landing blows on Hillary Clinton while declining to defend Mr. Trump’s proposals and record. However, when Sen. Tim Kaine listed a variety of Mr. Trump’s offenses and lies from stoking the racist “birther” movement to attacking Sen. John McCain’s war record to calling women disgusting names, which were all insulting. All Pence could do was respond by claiming Ms. Clinton and Mr. Kaine have run an insult-rich campaign.
Similarly, when challenged to defend Mr. Trump’s plans for the budget and entitlement programs, Pence insisted the Democrats would create “a mountain range of debt,” though Mr. Trump’s tax-cutting plan would, in fact, balloon the debt much more. Pence played down Mr. Trump’s promises to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and his well-documented skepticism of NATO. He frequently insisted that Mr. Trump would be “strong” where President Obama and Ms. Clinton are “weak,” attacking them for “Russian aggression” under their watch, but he dodged when Mr. Kaine pointed out that Mr. Trump has cozied up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Pence’s all-purpose defense of Mr. Trump was that “Donald Trump is a businessman, not a career politician.” He deployed this line when attempting to explain why Mr. Trump has failed to release his tax returns. But the fact that Mr. Trump lacks a public record to scrutinize makes it only more important that he release his tax returns, so the public can see how he conducted the professional life on which he bases his campaign. Especially, in light of the latest revelation that Trump lost nearly a billion dollars in one year.
This is not to say Mr. Kaine shined but his frequent interruptions to make his points about Mr. Trump uncomfortable, although mostly correct. Pence effectively bore in on areas of the world that have become less stable during the past eight years. Both candidates, meanwhile, failed to respond to a range of substantive questions from moderator Elaine Quijano. Neither ticket, for example, has a plan to take on the nation’s long-term budget imbalances.
I wonder if anyone realized that most of the problems mentioned by Pence were the result of the GOP obstruction. Both candidates said that, unlike Mr. Obama, they favor creating a safe zone in Syria, but, when pressed, neither explained how or by whom that zone would be protected. A break from the dodging and insulting came when they thoughtfully debated abortion, with both men fervently defending their very different points of view.
Repeatedly over the course of Tuesday’s debate, Mr. Kaine exclaimed that he could not believe Mr. Pence could defend Mr. Trump’s behavior and record. In a way, Mr. Kaine was right while in my view, although polished Mr. Pence largely did not. The bottom line is this; more of the same and nothing to see here! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…