Should I regret missing the VP debate?

I’m done for the day at the university — I’ve still got hours of grading to do — and I’m recuperating at home. My voice is gone! I’m hungry, but I have to do dishes first. Then grading.

I finally caught up on last night’s debate. I didn’t watch it, so I’m getting second-hand impressions. Mainly what I’m hearing is that Kamala Harris was the clear winner, but that she was also somewhat restrained and didn’t disembowel Pence on stage like I’d hoped she would. I also heard there were sound political reasons why she was cautious…in particular, that a black woman would never be able to get away with that kind of assertiveness. I would like to point out, though, that no matter how meek and demure she might have been, the Right was going to accuse her of being mean and unladylike.

Also, in a surprising twist of an argument, she isn’t even black. You can trust Dave Rubin, he assures us he isn’t racist at all before springing that on us. She is apparently Indian and Jamaican, which some people say isn’t really black.

Wow. I am so looking forward to Trump using that line of defense.

Also, Harris was “unlikable”, says the smarmiest, sleaziest, dumbest pundit on YouTube.


  1. kurt1 says

    Does Dave Rubin like to smell his own farts? Some people say “maybe!”. Anyways, my head is still spinning from so many high level, important ideas.

  2. garnetstar says

    “Her boobs”? What? That has something to do with being Black?

    What I saw was an old white man repeatedly interrupting and talking over two women, the candidate and the moderator. And sulking in offended white male privilege (“I want to say this!”) when the moderator tried to get him to stop.

    Also, an old white man demanding that a Black woman should answer his questions, not the moderator’s. He was owed that, because that’s what she was there for.

    This did not play well with women viewers, I assure you.

  3. PaulBC says

    I’d like to wait for the polls to settle, but this looks like another great example of how pundits are weirdos with their heads up their beltway asses who do not think like normal people, even when they claim to be predicting how normal people will react. If anything it’s worse in that case because their personal view is the reaction of an actual human weirdo, not the weirdo’s idea of a normal person, which is a fantasy along the lines of Thomas Friedman’s cab drivers.

    Nearly every pundit I read last night decided in favor of Pence, not just rightwingers but writers like Matt Yglesias, who made what looked like a convincing case for Pence.

    I didn’t watch the debates. I don’t. I read commentary and check polls. I think there’s overall agreement (between pundits and everyone else) that a VP debate almost never matters, and this one was unlikely to sway the majority of voters predisposed to one candidate or the other (and likely to declare a debate victory on that basis).

    The problem for me is that I already know what Pence is selling and I don’t want any. Saying it in very calm and confident tones won’t help (nor a smarmy “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” schtick: all the hate, just a lot more boring).

    On the other hand, if Kamala Harris is perceived to have won (pundits aside) then that’s good news. Fingers crossed.

  4. trollofreason says

    You didn’t miss much last night. Senator Harris didn’t throw out a single piece of red meat. She failed to drool over herself, & Pence made lying boring so he lost.

    The fly was kinda funny.

  5. PaulBC says

    I was annoyed by all the cutesy “good omen” takes on the little bird landing on Bernie Sander’s podium in 2016. But now I’m really starting to wonder.

    We know that underneath that plastic veneer of pasty skin and too-white hair, Pence is a writhing minion of Beelzebub. Of course he attracts flies! Or maybe that one crawled right out of his nostril when his head was turned. Are we sure it didn’t? What about the bald eagle attacking Trump in the Time photoshoot. Perfect! These animals know their stuff. Watch the animals and vote accordingly.

    Someone is really going at it with their little jokes in this simulation we’ve been stuck in for the past few years.

  6. says

    Most of the buzz I’ve seen is about that fly that landed on Pence’s head. This honestly sounds like something that should only be the highlight of the night if you’re watching grass grow.

  7. says

    That “black enough” argument really gets under my skin. In the 60s should have been treated as a black person and subject to the worst Jim Crow had to offer. So she’s black. Discussion over.

  8. PaulBC says

    Ray Ceeya @8 I agree! I wish people would just shut up about this crap. It is a losing battle to try to argue.

  9. unclefrogy says

    those that are saying she is not even black would not treat her as if she were “white” now or any time in the past.
    uncle frogy

  10. enki23 says

    Wait… Jamaicans aren’t black today? Is this a Schrödenger thing? Alright, fess up. Who collapsed the wave function.

  11. PaulBC says

    @12 Jamelle Bouie convincingly slapped down this entire stupid distraction in an NYT column:

    And yeah, what? Caribbeans aren’t black now? They sure used to be.

    A quick look at some of the most prominent figures in Black American history will prove the point. Marcus Garvey, one of the most significant Black nationalists of the 20th century and the founder of one of the largest Black fraternal organizations in American history, was a native of Jamaica. Kwame Ture, born Stokely Carmichael, leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1966 and 1967, was born in Trinidad. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first Black woman to compete for a major-party presidential nomination, was the daughter of immigrants from Barbados and British Guiana. Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Colin Powell — the list goes on.

  12. hemidactylus says

    Fuck Rubin but there seem to be some complexifying cultural factors that come into play when it comes to how dark complexion people of African descent identify themselves. Not an issue in Kamala Harris’s case as she was born in the US and AFAIK identifies at least partly as African American and/or black as is her prerogative. But in other cases its not as clear cut and the preference goes to the individual themselves and often reflects country of origin and enculturation.

    I recall riding home from some social engagement with black friends and they were bellyaching about people they knew from African or Caribbean countries identifying differently from American black people or African Americans. I “whitesplained” that there are nationality and enculturation factors so someone born in Nigeria or the Dominican Republic may be coming at it from a different perspective. In the latter case a dark-skinned immigrant from a Latin American country, be it Cuba or otherwise, may identify more strongly as Hispanic and if not fluent in English may have trouble assimilating into a local African American community. And Brazilians speaking Portuguese may have some issues with Spanish speakers regardless of skin tone.

    Not sure what it’s like entirely for Caribbean blacks from former British possessions coming to the US. Might be easier because language isn’t that different. An ex-girlfriend was Antiguan but lacked an accent so was pretty much enculturated as African American (which may undercut my points a bit).

    Going back to my black friends taking issue with black people identifying themselves apart from African Americans, their knock down argument is regardless of from where you hail, if you get pulled over by the cops all that high falutin enculturation argument goes out the window. Point taken.

  13. chris says

    Then there were the laws in slavery days and even later that “one drop” of black made you “black” no matter your skin’s complexion.

    I am not clicking on the YouTube link because I do not need to hear from yet another misogynist white dude. I am also an “unlikable” woman because I will actually either correct mansplaining or just walk away because to dude is being an idiot. It depends on context.

  14. chris says

    Erg: “because to dude” should be “because the dude.” Apparently I think faster than I can think.

  15. William George says

    Both the Jungle Brothers and QTip told me that black is black so I’ll trust them over yet another grifter swimming the right wing fever swamp.

  16. chris says

    Double erg: “I think faster than I can think.”… should be “I think faster than I can type.”

    Step away from the laptop, Chris. Okay funny voice in my head.

  17. nomdeplume says

    @18 On the other hand “I think faster than I can think” seems to me a real thing. In times of stress my thoughts run away from me, and I have to pause and try to work out what I AM thinking.

  18. says

    the smarmiest, sleaziest, dumbest pundit on YouTube

    I am utterly astounded that you are able to narrow it down and choose just one. That’s like being taken into a sewer and being able to find the smelliest piece of ordure.

  19. says

    I think Kamala got victorious draw from overwhelmingly better position.
    There is no way Pence could won with CoVID outbreak rampaging across the US, Kamala landed some good moments, Pence slithered expertly out of most traps, the difference was minimal, number of people who would factor this debate into making their decision is minuscule.
    So it is a technical victory for kamala/biden as they needed just not to lose, while Pence needed something convincing.

    People who truly lost was those who watched the debate and listened to politics as usual referring to their talking points and avoiding real answers.

  20. christoph says

    I got a bunch of emails this morning from the Trump campaign claiming overwhelming victory for Pence. Trump wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t true, right?

  21. Sengkelat says

    For a “win” I’d give it to Pence. He executed some arguments well, got the last word on just about everything by answering the previous question during the subsequent, and pinned her on court packing. I have no objection to him demanding she answer that question, it’s a debate after all. I felt like he scored points on raising taxes, had a good point that Biden’s pandemic plan (as stated by Harris) isn’t that different than Trump’s, and got off several good lines that went unchallenged.
    Overall, I was disappointed that Harris didn’t do better, but I expect she did have her hands tied by not wanting to appear too aggressive. He’s very slick, and he did a good job lying with a straight face. (Also, I’ll admit my bias; anything less than Harris disemboweling Pence and dancing around the entrails was going to feel like a loss to me)
    On the other hand, while I think Pence won, he won on points, not by knockout, and his side probably needed a KO. At least I hope so. All this “down by 7 points” and “Democrats are favored” feels all too familiar.