“Who won?”

You can talk about the vice presidential debate all you want. I skipped it. And this morning I tried to find out what was said, and all I see is the media arguing about “who won”, which I don’t give a good goddamn about. Did we learn anything about policies? At the end of the debate, shouldn’t we have a clearer idea about what the candidates stand for, and isn’t that what the media should be talking about?

Instead, all I hear about is that Pence “looked” “presidential”, two rather meaningless words.

Jebus. Now the right-wingers are arguing about the flair the two were wearing. Pence wore the obligatory American flag pin, while Kaine wore a mysterious and almost certainly insidious furrin pin of some kind.

Can we just declare that anyone who doesn’t know what the Blue Star service symbol means isn’t qualified to pontificate on military matters in the US?


  1. says

    Nobody “won” last night. They were both aggressively interrupting each other, but Kaine interrupted first.

    Basically the dynamic was Kaine would point out one of the outrageous things that Trump said and Pence would deny it. Or, in some cases, refuse to defend it. Either way, the next thing he would say would be Luntz-approved talking points about how the economy never improved in the past 8 years, or bengazi-email-foundation-gate.

    Kaine also used a few too many obviously canned phrases (You’re Hired, vs You’re Fired economic plan characterization…seriously?).

    It was an utter shitshow. Pence won on theatrics, barely, and only by not being quite as aggressive as Kaine. Kaine won on substance, by being right about most of the positions he attributed to Trump that Pence either lied to deny or failed to defend.

    The moderator might as well have not even been there for how badly she kept control. She may be a wonderful journalist (I’ve never heard of her), but they walked all over her like a doormat.

  2. Big Boppa says

    I didn’t see the whole debate. At one point, the moderator asked Pence a question about what he would propose to be a way to combat domestic terrorism. Pence’s answer was that we have to reduce immigration. It was one of the biggest WTF moments of this campaign. Especially when the moderator (who sucked IMO) just moved on to the next question. That’s when I switched over to the hockey game.

  3. Rey Fox says

    Of course he looked presidential. He’s an old plain-looking white guy who can string a couple sentences together. Big deal.

  4. robro says

    I feel like I won. I didn’t watch and I only read a little bit about this “debate.” So I spent very little time on it. Big, big win for me.

    The RNC (Really Nutty Characters) was so convinced Pence won that they released the results an hour before the show started! I guess “GOP” stands for Goofy Old Psychics.

    The media seems divided. Kaine interrupted. Pence couldn’t or wouldn’t defend Trump, but who in their right mind could…oh yeah, it’s not clear that Pence is in his right mind. But hey, there’s still a month to go and the news folks need to keep their poll numbers up, so churn and foment is their watchword. So lots of digital ink to discuss the ramifications of this event.

    A big plus in this news cycle: Sarah Palin complained that in her VP debate she had to stand…in heels! OMG. She should get a do-over.

    FiveThirtyEight suggests that it was favorable enough for Clinton. She’s now given a 75% chance to win in their polls-only forecast, 71% in the polls-plus forecast, and a full on 81% in the now-cast (if the election was today). That’s the territory she was in right after the convention, which peaked at 96% (now-cast).

    Interestingly FiveThirtyEight’s polls-only forecast shows Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada swinging back to Clinton. It could be rout, which frankly, the Republicans deserve.

  5. cartomancer says

    The fact America is in this situation at all suggests that, in any meaningful sense of the term, we’ve all lost…

  6. says

    Pence looked handsome. His jaw is strong, his features symmetrical. His gray hair is neat. Good suit. His on-camera motions were assertive and polished. He made his assertions with feigned authority. I think that is what “looking presidential” means.

  7. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    When Kaine was nominated, everyone complained that he was too boring and polite to be the “attack dog” role the VP has to be. Last night he was the attack dog, interrupting to counter every falsehood Pence repeated. Kaine didn’t just interrupt with a bark, but presented relevant counterpoints. Pence interrupted with simple denials, and consistently “pivoted” on every question the moderator directed at him.
    Because Kaine interrupted, he’s deemed the loser of the debate, while Pense, repeating Drumph’s falsehoods and pivoting every question into a Clinton-attack makes him the winner?
    This SUX.

  8. sayke says

    The biggest take away that I got from the debate was that Pence and Trump plan on being a very anti-abortion administration, with no regard to the rights or choices of the women involved; but that while Kaine himself might be anti-abortion, he respects the law and the autonomy of women.

    Also, it might just be me, but with the faith question Pence came across as very “my faith is everything,” while Kaine was more “America is made up of lots of different faiths”. It was a needless and stupid question, but Kaine irked me less in answering it.

  9. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    In terms of policy, aside from a few minor details (ISIS is the enemy now, not the Commies), this debate didn’t sound much different from anything we’ve heard over the last 40 years. Pence wants to cut taxes, strengthen the military, support the police, keep America safe from undesirable foreigners, and outlaw abortion (but hey, don’t worry all you uterus-havers, after you lug around the sprog for nine months and then push it out, you can always give it up for adoption!).

    As for Kaine, he wants to invest in infrastructure, negotiate with our enemies, promote community policing, and protect a woman’s right to choose.

    Nothing as far as I remember about climate change (aside from a few mentions from Pence on the war on coal) or LGBTQ rights.

    Oh, also both are deeply religious (and so is Hillary). Obviously that’s an important quality in a VP (because really, what else are you going to do all day but pray?).

  10. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    In any case, the VP debate has never really had an impact on the election (or did I sleep through the Dukakis administration?).

  11. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    So Kaine included a few zingers in his talking points. BFD.
    Seems everyone’s dumping on Kaine for having zingers, completely overlooking all the salient points he also included, which were far more numerous than the occasional zinger. The ‘You’re Hired, You’re Fired Presidents’ metaphor was fully explained and not just left as a dangling metaphor. Seems most analyses of the debate imply that the metaphor was left as just a one-line zinger.
    Still looking for response to “economy is struggling *head tilt* ” that Pence threw around repeatedly, completely contradicting the actual performance of the economy which is currently recovering from the Bush debacle.

  12. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @11:

    Nothing as far as I remember about climate change (aside from a few mentions from Pence on “the war on coal”)

    yeah, Pence was trying to imply that as a negative by saying it was the Clinton policy.
    Perhaps trying to flee the sinking ship, he was trying to throw in a few sabotage moves there. by sneaking in a few plugs for Clinton, while disguising them as attempted zingers.
    hmmm, clever, wait, no, yuk

  13. says


    Yes, Kaine did flesh out the you’re hired/you’re fired thing, but it was a weak metaphor to begin with, because I don’t think people generally associate the abstract concepts of being hired/fired with the economic arguments presented (better education, infrastructure spending, etc). And frankly, I personally hate sloganeering, because it’s all W did for 8 years. The economic points all made sense, but he buried it behind such a stupid slogan that they were over powered. The shouty-man with the short fingers using “you’re fired” as the slogan for his stupid reality show made the metaphor memorable, but not for the reason I think Kaine was trying to communicate by using it.

    I was very confused by how Pence kept insisting on how we have “lost our standing” in the world in addition to his insistence that the economy is still struggling. I wonder what he meant by that; like how our allies respect us again after W’s divisive foreign policy?

    And Kaine missed a great opportunity when Pence complained about Fort Wayne’s economic troubles. All he had to do was ask Pence whether or not he was governor of Indiana, and why Fort Wayne therefore wouldn’t be his responsibility.

  14. raven says

    From #11 Pence wants to cut taxes, strengthen the military, ….

    Which is impossible. The federal budget is already cut to the bone and we are still running deficits.

    Romney/Ryan did the same thing. I tried to analyze their economic plan. There wasn’t one.
    They were going to cut taxes, close loopholes, and balance the budget. Which also was impossible.

  15. says

    Pence had less praise for Russia and for Putin than Trump has shown. He even called Putin “small.” It sounded like Pence wanted to start a war with Russia.

    The other war Pence wants to prosecute is against Roe v. Wade. He would reduce abortion access to dust.

  16. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says


    Yeah, like I said, it’s the same shit we’ve been hearing for about 40 years now–lower taxes, higher spending on the military, eye of Newt, and presto! you’ve got instant prosperity and balanced budgets as far as the eye can see! (Just ignore the ballooning deficits and income inequality behind the curtain, kid.)

    It worked for Reagan, in the sense that he got elected twice, got an airport named after him, and is on the personal Rushmore of every gopper. Hasn’t been to great for most of the rest of us, of course.

  17. says

    Cross posted from the Moments of Political Madness thread.

    Mike Pence was slick and smooth, and didn’t mind lying. Dangerous.

    Nobody will care about the lies, nor how Pence defended Trump by saying that Trump didn’t say what Trump said. People will care that Pence looked good and sounded good, while Kaine looked and sounded like he was wound too tight.

    Here’s a Pence lie: He said that the Clinton Foundation only spends 10% of the funds it takes in on programs. The actual amount is 90%.

    Pence repeated a lie told earlier by Reince Priebus.
    PolitiFact link.
    Priebus told that lie because he is stupid. He had real information in front of him, but he misread it and misinterpreted it. Pence should know better than to use a lie like that in a debate.

  18. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Pense was asked: What’s your team’s response to domestic terrorism by home grown American citizens?
    Pense: Keep out illegal immigrants. Even if they share the same nationality as a proven terrorist, keep em all out. Better safe than sorry.
    Q: what about AMERICAN terrorists????
    Pense: keep all immigrants out. *wipe hands*


  19. says

    Here is an excerpt from another good analysis of the lies Pence told and how he told them:

    […] On nuclear proliferation, for example, Kaine noted that Trump has endorsed more nations getting nuclear weapons. “He never said that, senator,” Pence replied. Pence was wrong; Trump did say that.

    On Social Security, Kaine noted that Trump has called the system a “Ponzi scheme” he’d like to see privatized. “All Donald Trump and I have said about Social Security is we’re going to meet our obligations to our seniors,” Pence replied. “That’s it.” That’s not it; Kaine was right and Pence was wrong.

    This continued for more than 90 minutes. On abortion, Pence pretended Trump hadn’t endorsed “punishing” women. On tax returns, Pence pretended Trump hadn’t broken his promise to disclose the materials. On Russia, Pence pretended Trump hadn’t praised the Russian autocrat’s “leadership.” On immigration, Pence pretended Trump didn’t call for a new “deportation force” to remove undocumented immigrants already in the United States.

    I kept waiting for Kaine to turn to his rival and ask, “Have you ever actually met Donald Trump? Have you been paying any attention to the news over the last year and a half?” […]


  20. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Q: Pense, when will Trump release his tax returns?
    Pense: when will Hillary release her emails?
    Q: When. Will. Trump. Release. His. Tax returns???
    Pense: He released hundreds of pages of financial records to audit. That’s all he can do until audit is over. *folds arms*.
    Every question he pivoted into an attack on Clinton, never answering the question. Always disguising it by throwing similar words but redirected to be attacking Clinton.
    *retch x 2*

  21. says

    Some accurate headlines:

    Chicago Tribune: Pence fights — and lies — to keep the stench of Trump off him

    New York Times: Mike Pence’s Fantasy Running Mate

    Washington Post: Mike Pence struggles to defend the indefensible

    Buzzfeed: Mike Pence Won The Debate For His Imaginary Running Mate, Mitt Romney

    Politico: 6 things Trump definitely said that Pence claimed he didn’t

  22. Menyambal says

    I somehow made it through the entire evening without being aware the debate was happening. I win!

    Thanks to the commenters here for an excellent summing up. Sounds like both did about as expected, and the GOP claims the win, as expected.

  23. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says


    Pence pretended Trump didn’t call for a new “deportation force” to remove undocumented immigrants already in the United States.

    saying we already have a “deportation force” (w/ finger-quotes) saying that “their official name is Immigration Customs Enforcement, known as I C E. and ICE has endorsed Trump.”
    Again propagating that falsehood.
    The I.C.E. has said that being a federal agency, they are legally prohibited from endorsing any candidate regardless of party affiliation. “Trump LIED that ICE endorses Trump”, according to ICE.

    *retch* #3

  24. Vivec says

    So, upon catching up with that debate, I think the strongest opinion I came away with is that the “moderator” was purely a formality of the format and didn’t actually do jack shit.

  25. says

    I kept waiting for Kaine to turn to his rival and ask, “Have you ever actually met Donald Trump?”

    I was thinking all morning that this would have been the perfect prepared phrase to use in the event that Pence responded as he did.

    It would be wonderful, especially with these denials on record, if Raddatz and Cooper could present the candidates with video or audio evidence of their previous public statements rather than just quoting from them. The technology certainly exists. I don’t know if it’s disallowed by the debate rules.

    This debate was excruciating. Kaine’s purpose was to go after Trump and to try to get Pence to defend or reject his statements and proposals, so he was more aggressive than is natural for him and it was unpleasant. But he got the job done. You could almost picture in real time the ad the Clinton campaign could make, and it’s already out.

    Pence did not defend Trump. He either lied and lied to deny Trump’s past statements or presented their approach and proposals as something completely different from what Trump has said. The irony of the RNC’s inept posting of the debate results before the debate had started was that one of their posts said the real loser was Hillary Clinton; people were laughing about it, saying “They are aware Clinton’s not debating tonight, right?” – but in fact the real loser was Trump.

    He lost, first, in that his running mate both allowed his opponent to get even more negative information about Trump out before the public. He lost, second, in that his running mate was clearly unwilling to defend his statements and positions. Pence was looking out for himself, even suggesting at one point that quoting Trump’s own words was an unacceptable insult.

    Trump is an authoritarian who values personal fealty extremely highly. The Clinton camp can certainly needle him by contrasting Pence’s performance favorably with Trump’s. But even more importantly, Clinton can now say, truthfully and with evidence to back her up, that Trump’s behavior and proposed policies are so awful that even his own running mate can’t or won’t defend them, while subtly hinting at Pence’s disloyalty.

  26. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    One face-slapping moment came towards the end, when Pence said in response to the 53rd time that Kaine mentioned the murderer and rapists line something like “But he also said that some of them are good people. Why do you always leave that out?” I fully expected him to follow with “Some of his best friends are Mexicans!”

  27. says

    The moderator wasn’t good. She interrupted at the wrong points, and failed to interrupt or follow up when she should have. The set of questions was disjointed, and, worse, they were framed very annoyingly with a number of questionable implicit assumptions (especially the one about policing).

    I didn’t care for how she asked about religion. Pence is a religious zealot, and this is the only debate where that could have really been brought out. Instead, she asked them both to describe an instance in which there might have been a conflict between their religion and their public service. Kaine spent too much time talking about the death penalty and should have said something along the lines of he recognizes the constitutional separation of church and state and doesn’t believe in theocracy, while in contrast his opponent has time and time again supported and passed laws that enforce his religious beliefs on others. He could have pointed out that Pence is a far-Right extremist, that the Republican platform is extremist, and that if the Republicans were to win it would effectively mean the end of reproductive and LGBT rights and religious freedom. A question like “What do you think is the proper role of religion in government?” would have been better in bringing out the sharp differences between the candidates and parties, which many people are still unaware of.

  28. says

    One face-slapping moment came towards the end, when Pence said in response to the 53rd time that Kaine mentioned the murderer and rapists line something like “But he also said that some of them are good people. Why do you always leave that out?”

    He actually claimed that Trump had said “many” of them were good people, which was, on top of the ridiculousness you point out, a lie. Trump said “They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Not many – some (he assumes).

    When Kaine brought the comments up for the second or third time, Pence responded: “Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.” thatmexicanthing.org now redirects to Voto Latino, and thatmexicanthing.com to the Clinton campaign site.

  29. says

    The debate moderator set up a false equivalence between the Trump and the Clinton economic plans. She stated that both would increase the national debt.

    She did not say that Trump’s plan would increase the national debt by 26.5 times more than Clinton’s plan, though that is the conservative truth. Then Mike Pence went on to falsely claim that Clinton’ plan would explode the national debt and that Trump’s would not.

    Here’s an excerpt from Wonkette’s coverage of this aspect of the debate:

    Among the many things Mike Pence lied about in the Veep debate […] would be the effects of the Trump economic plan (whatever it is this week) and the Clinton policy, especially his repeated claims that Hillary Clinton would explode the national debt. So hey, stipulating first off that an unhealthy obsession with the debt is, from the get-go, right-wing driven bullshit that’s mostly used as an excuse to gut social spending (while military spending is always good for the economy), let’s just take a quick look-see at how utterly Mike Pence is lying, shall we?

    Trump’s debt over 10 years is 26.5 times bigger than Hillary Clinton’s, huh!

    […] We’ll even give Pence a great big advantage here by using estimates from the rightwing (but “nonpartisan”) Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a budget-hawk group that’s the brainchild of former Nixon dude and billionaire Peter Peterson, and has explicitly pushed for slashing Medicare and Social Security. […]

    Here’s their take on the Trump and Clinton economic plans:

    Incorporating rough and preliminary estimates of these new policies, we find that Clinton’s plans would increase the debt by $200 billion over a decade above current law levels (compared to our prior estimate of $250 billion), and Trump’s plans would increase the debt by $5.3 trillion (compared to our prior estimate of $11.5 trillion). As a result, debt would rise to above 86 percent of GDP under Clinton and 105 percent under Trump.

    Again, that’s the estimate from a crowd that’s obsessed with debt. They ain’t crazy about Clinton’s plan, because it leaves wasteful fripperies like Social Security and Medicare and the social safety net in place. But they really hate Trump’s plan, which would slash revenues while imagining economic growth would pay for the losses. If the CRFB isn’t buying it, that’s probably a pretty good indication that Pence is full of it.

    A Washington Post op-ed, also using estimates from the CRFB, made a similar point:

    Here’s the bottom line for the nation’s bottom line: Clinton’s spending increases and other proposals that cost money have a total price tag of about $1.8 trillion over the next decade. But her offsets, which come mostly from tax hikes, would save an estimated $1.9 trillion over that same period (or closer to $1.6 trillion if you don’t count those as-yet-unspecified business tax proposals).

    The net fiscal impact of her plans, then, is pretty close to zero.


  30. says

    SC @31, good points. And ask yourself, is following up a comment about Mexico sending criminals and rapists to the US with “and some, I assume, are good people” in any way excuses the criminals and rapists part? No.

  31. says

    “Mike Pence’s bizarro world”:

    It’s as if Pence was the designated survivor of the Republican primary, a man held away from the carnage Trump has inflicted on the Republican Party, its conventions, orthodoxies, and pieties. Party figures like Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani embrace Trump as he is. Others, like Paul Ryan, try to demand more, and get nothing in return. Ted Cruz tried to shiv Trump at the convention, then feebly extracted a meaningless promise from him before endorsing him in September. Every strategy of blocking Trump, co-opting Trump, or parlaying with him as failed.

    But in this debate, Pence did something that no one has tried before. He simply refused to acknowledge that there was any problem at all. You’ve heard lots of crazy things about Trump. But I’m here to do a job, and frankly, acknowledging the reality of his situation or ours can only get in my way. Pence made it seem as if Trump’s own words, when spoken by Tim Kaine, somehow discredited Tim Kaine. Mike Pence was a walking, talking memory hole.

  32. says

    Clinton pokes at Trump with a sharp stick, tweeting: “Lucky to have a partner like @TimKaine who stood up for our shared vision tonight—instead of trying to deny it.”

  33. says

    Here is another lie that Pence told:

    Now, you all need to know out there, this is basic stuff. Foreign donors, and certainly foreign governments, cannot participate in the American political process. They cannot make financial contributions. But the Clintons figured out a way to create a foundation where foreign governments and foreign donors could donate millions of dollars.

    Nope. Not even close.

    No one in the Clinton family, not Hillary, not Bill, and not Chelsea makes any money from the Clinton Foundation. They work, but they do not get paid. Furthermore, unlike Trump Foundation, the books of the Clinton Foundation are open to the public. All incoming funds are accounted for, and all outgoing funds are accounted for.

    Organizations that vet charities say the Clinton Foundation does a great job, directing about 90% of the money taken in to its programs.

    Pence expanded on the lie:

    And then we found, thanks to the good work of the Associated Press, that more than half her private meetings when she was secretary of state were given to major donors of the Clinton Foundation.

    Here’s some backstory for the no-good, awful interpretations of the Clinton Foundation that are coming from the right-wingers.

    Back on August 23, the Associated Press put out a tweet saying that more than half of Hillary Clinton’s meetings as secretary of state were with people who had donated to the foundation. It was a lie. Then they followed up with an article in which they threw out over 97 percent of all the meetings Hillary had as SOS, and then if you looked at it just right, and if you counted people who worked for companies who had donated, and people who worked for foundations who had donated, but left out all these other people, you could get the numbers they wanted. So … it was still a lie. Not just a lie, but maliciously slanted journalism.

    Oh, and the AP said they had found 85 donors who had meetings with Clinton, but they wouldn’t release the list to the Clinton campaign so they could check it. In fact, they wouldn’t show it to anyone. They were still “cross referencing,” which they apparently didn’t bother with before running the story. And they still haven’t shown their list to anyone. Where’s the #$!#ing list, AP?

    Short version: The AP retracted their original tweet two weeks later and acknowledged that it had been wrong, but the Trump campaign is still pretending they didn’t notice. Foundation donors were a tiny fraction of the people Clinton met with while SOS. […]


    Pence summarized by conflating Hillary Clinton’s private server with false accusations about the Clinton Foundation:

    the reason the American people don’t trust Hillary Clinton is because they are looking at the pay to play politics that she operated with the Clinton Foundation through a private server…

    Is there evidence that, as Secretary of State, Clinton helped donors to the Clinton Foundation? No. There’s none, no evidence of “pay to play.”

    Is there evidence that Mike Pence is a skillful liar? Yes. Is there evidence that he does not properly vet his sources? Yes.

  34. applehead says

    Someone should disband the Union. You, as a country, are way too powerful and way too full of shitheaded garbage people. Not a combo that’s good for the world.

    And then move on to do the same to Russia, China and England.

  35. says

    This is interesting on a number of levels. I believe the reports that this is what the sources told them. I don’t know if the sources were speaking truthfully or not, but it’s certainly plausible given Trump’s history and psychological traits, as the article notes. It’s especially unsurprising when you consider that Trump actually live-tweeted the debate. He had to know that would be a distraction from his own running mate, and this is exactly what he needed – couldn’t stand for the spotlight not to be on him even for this brief time, especially when he might be outperformed. Whether or not the sources are telling the truth, there do seem to be a growing number of leaks from the Trump campaign. I suspect many if not most or even all of the staffers actually despise and don’t respect him. It wouldn’t shock me in the least if there were more leaks and covert statements sabotaging the campaign over the next few weeks.

  36. Jado says

    applehead –

    Sorry, can’t disband the union. It was tried once and resulted in 4 years of blood and horror.

    Besides, you DO NOT WANT some sections of this union let loose without the oversight and calming effect of other sections of this union.

    We are the national equivalent of Three Stooges Syndrome – all of the awful parts of our country are in balance with all of the other awful parts