If Kaine had one job, it was to repeat as loudly and frequently as possible all the dumb and offensive words that have tumbled out of Trump’s curled lips.
It wasn’t a pretty night for the Democratic veep pick. He interrupted too often and smiled too little. He was forced to repeat Trump’s worst insults. He looked and sounded too hot, where his rival looked and sounded too sincere.
But in truth, neither man seemed comfortable in their designated role. Like two insurance salesmen getting drunk at their annual trade conference, Kaine and Pence were just trying too hard.
Kaine tried to beat Pence into submission with pesky facts. Pence tried to smother his facts with a syrupy version of Ronald Reagan. “You can roll out the numbers and the sunny side,” Pence said, “but people in Scranton know different.”
It would be easy to dismiss Kaine-Pence as a sideshow. But given the likelihood that either President Clinton or President Trump gets impeached, we might have just seen the only debate with the ultimate winner of the 2016 election.
‘It would be easy to dismiss Kaine-Pence as a sideshow.’ Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Kate Aronoff: Kaine was all interruption, no inspiration
This was a disappointing night for the Clinton campaign. While Pence kept his cool, Kaine tried to imitate Joe Biden’s interruption-heavy performance against Paul Ryan in 2012 – without half his charisma. Kaine’s biggest downfall, though, may not have been about tone.
Compared to Kaine, Pence told a compelling – if terrifyingly cynical and blatantly false – story of a country that has lost its way, and how he and Trump intend to restore it. “Make America Great Again” might be one of the best political slogans of the past decade. But Trump owes its creation to people such as Margaret Thatcher and Reagan, who worked to spread the neoliberal gospel that’s now seeped into both parties. That evangelizing project has been incredibly successful, with each candidate airing concerns about government spending, personal responsibility and the limits of American coffers.
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