Harris Wins the Debate with a Command of Facts and the Truth
Tonight’s face-off between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence was much closer to what Americans generally view as a “normal” debate since the two opponents actually discussed the issues. Pence appeared to be composed and knowledgeable compared to his boss.
In contrast, President Donald Trump came across as an unhinged bully who abused the moderator as well as his opponent during the presidential debate with Vice President Joe Biden. While both Harris and Pence often ignored the moderator’s questions to promote their own talking points, Pence — taking a cue from his boss — exceeded his allotted time more often and continually distorted the truth.
But even though Pence appeared to be sane, his answers conveyed a sense of loyalty to a man and his reactionary politics that many Americans, including some of Trump’s former supporters, are rejecting. On the contrary, her experience as a prosecutor, including a command of the facts and a truthful, direct appeal to her audience, made Harris come across as the winner.
Harris Knows Systemic Racism
On the issue of racism, here was a strong, Black woman who had spoken with Breonna Taylor’s mother and understood the reality of systemic racism and police brutality. She stated clearly that justice had not been served in Breonna’s case. After Harris pointed out Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacy during the presidential debate, Pence’s defensive response was not convincing.
Pence replied that he trusts “our justice system and the grand jury.” Not only did he deny systemic racism; he rejected the notion that police can be biased. However, according to the New York Times, what really attracted the attention of viewers “was not his praise for the police, but the fly that landed on his hair — and stayed for two minutes.”
Harris Condemns Trump’s Handling of Covid-19
Harris opened the debate with a forceful condemnation of the Trump administration’s handling of the virus. She looked directly at the audience as she called out the president.
“Well,” Harris said, “the American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country. And here are the facts: 210,000 dead people in our country in just the last several months, over 7 million people who have contracted the disease, 1 in 5 businesses closed….”
“On Jan. 28, the Vice President and the President were informed about the nature of this pandemic. They were informed that it’s lethal…and that it would be contracted because it is airborne. And they knew what was happening, and they didn’t tell you….They knew and they covered it up.”
Pence had no response to the charge of a cover up. Instead, he credited Trump with banning travel from China in January. But the travel restrictions never amounted to a complete ban. The Washington Post found that “at least 430,000 people arrived in the United States on direct flights from China since Jan. 1, including nearly 40,000 in the two months after Trump imposed restrictions.”
Pence Stretches the Truth
Pence also tried to blur the stark differences between the Biden plan and Trump’s disastrous response to the pandemic, to the point that exaggeration turned into absurdity. Trump has led “the greatest national mobilization since World War II,” Pence claimed. “When you look at the Biden plan,” he said, “it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and I and our task force have been doing every step of the way,” the Times reported.
As the debate wore on, Pence’s sophisticated veneer began to fall away, revealing that he and Trump share the same basic pattern of dishonesty. As the Times noted, “Mr. Pence claimed that the president had a plan to protect people with pre-existing medical conditions though he does not, hailed the “V-shaped recovery” of the economy in defiance of the latest government data and repeatedly claimed that Mr. Trump would always “follow the science” on climate change though he has spent his term denying the scientific consensus on global warming and dismantling environmental regulations.”
Toward the end of the debate, Pence declared that the Trump administration would be victorious in the election. “We will win this election,” he said. Then he launched into a series of incoherent remarks that seemed at odds with his earlier statements.
These comments, that Trump may have ordered him to say, included the following: the FBI spied on Trump’s campaign; the CIA referred the FBI to spy on the campaign because of Hillary Clinton, and universal mail-in voting will result in massive fraud. Pence had begun to sound as unhinged as his boss.
No matter. Harris had already summed up the value of the Trump administration early in the debate. “America,” she said, “you deserve better!”