Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Vice-presidential Debate

Typically, the vice presidential candidate is viewed as an attack dog:  someone who can make edgy attacks on the other side while the presidential candidate remains dignified.  This is exactly reversed in the Trump/Pence ticket.  Trump says edgy things all the time; Pence is a stabilizing influence who pooh-poohs his running mate's wilder attacks.

We have never had a president who wasn't an avowed Christian.  I was struck by the fact that both Kaine and Pence seem to be serious in their faith, unlike many politicians who are Christian mostly because it is a political disadvantage not to be, at least nominally.  But we will have an atheist president soon, I would venture.  Kaine and Pence grew up at a time when most Americans were raised Christian as a matter of course.  I think the next generation contains many more people who were raised either indifferent to religion or hostile to it.  I would be surprised if we didn't have an atheist or agnostic president in the next 20 years.

I typically hate watching debates because I find the candidate that I support saying things that embarrass me.  Sometimes the content is bad, sometimes the delivery, but whatever it is I seem to experience the debate vicariously as though I were on the stage.  This is one of the very few debates when I haven't felt that way about the Republican candidate.  Pence was astonishingly calm and cogent.  I'm trying to think back if I can recall another Republican candidate who was so composed, but I can't think of any since Reagan.  I didn't always agree with Pence, and there were certainly times when I wanted to step into his shoes and deliver a more pointed response; but he was never embarrassing.  The fact that he has not been a serious presidential candidate is interesting.  Obviously, debating demeanour is not the only criterion, or even the most important.  Pence hasn't run, of course, but if people thought his debating skills could get him elected, he would probably have generated more interest and perhaps thought about it.  Anyway, I was surprised that someone as comfortable as he was in the debate did not get more consideration as a presidential candidate.

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