Listening to the pundits this morning, the big question following last night’s highly entertaining first and only vice-presidential debate is, “Did Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, help Donald Trump’s candidacy by making him look better.”
What a bizarre question to ask.
The question should not be whether Pence helped the person at the top of the Republican ticket look better, checking perhaps, any concerns about Trump’s fitness to serve as President.
The point of a vice-presidential debate is to introduce the number two person on the ticket and hopefully give the American people confidence that person is capable of being the President if called upon.
Clearly, more was at stake last night than the usual (especially, given how easily Hillary Clinton demolished Trump at the first debate).
Trump supporters (and Clinton haters, but Trump detractors throughout the political and business “elite” establishment) had to have let out a collective sigh of relief following last night’s vice-presidential debate. Indeed, if I were a Trump supporter this morning, I’d be circulating a petition to flip the ticket and put Mike Pence on top.
Deep down, even his most strident supporters all know that Trump is unfit to be the President of the United States. Nearly every opportunity he gets, he demonstrates that he is a racist, xenophobe, misogynist, megalomaniac, simpleton, and con man.
Perhaps, the most effective thing Pence did all night was dodge and deflect questions about Donald Trump’s odious record (a job Trump’s regular cast of surrogates must be exhausted from doing on 24-7 cable news).
Don’t get me wrong, Pence is terrible in a lot of ways too, especially abortion rights, the right of workers to organize, and LGBTQ rights. And, while he has tried to distance himself from really stupid things Trump has said and done, his answers at last night’s debate to issues ranging from immigration to warrior cop style policing in black and brown communities (especially his denials about implicit bias and structural racism) show that he and the Republican Party presidential nominee have a lot in common.
Nonetheless, last night’s debate, at least according to the pundit class, will be remembered for what Dick Cheney did in 2000 for the ticket led by George W. Bush, which is, to make an unfit nominee look better.