October 7, 2020
The One Question That Should Be Asked Tonight
“Plexiglas or no Plexiglas?”
That’s the question the candidates must first answer before taking the debate stage.
For Kamala Harris, it’s a definite “Plexiglas, please.” In fact, it was her campaign that recommended it.
For Mike Pence? “Not needed.”
Welcome to the vice-presidential debate, during the era of coronavirus, coming to you live from Salt Lake City, Utah!
Tonight, the stakes are high. With the election less than a month away, the Trump campaign is trying to pull another surprise win, just as it did in 2016. Poll numbers are down, and the odds certainly seem stacked against the president…
But, as we all learned in ’16, polls and odds are not always the best predictors of elections.
Meanwhile, this evening’s debate is not a normal VP debate. Either of the candidates on stage could very well wind up being president given their respective bosses’ advanced ages. One has COVID-19, and the other, his critics say, might have dementia. (At the very least, he’s 77 years old, and one of the oldest nominees ever to run for president.)
The key for both Pence and Harris this evening is to come across as likable, dependable, and thoughtful.
Both candidates are skilled debaters.
Pence proved his chops debating Tim Kaine, though to be fair… Tim Kaine is no Kamala Harris – neither in personality nor in stature.
Pence has what it takes to win tonight. He spent years honing his oratory skills as a radio show host and has a home-spun, down-to-earth, straightforward approach that should seem like a strong, welcome contrast to Harris’ aggressive style.
Harris has spent a career as a debater – both as a lawyer and as a politician. She has been both acclaimed – and simultaneously criticized – for her “attack dog” style. America witnessed her polarizing approach front and center during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, where she seemed less interested in Kavanaugh’s answers, and more interested in accusing him of vicious crimes.
Later, during the 2019 Democratic debates, America watched her dynamic takedown of the man who now sits on top of the ticket. As a former prosecutor, she went straight for the jugular on stage that night in June… attacking a party favorite over an issue that he was sure to be vulnerable on – his vocal opposition to the busing of black schoolchildren into white districts in 1970s America.
While Biden was a senator in the 1970s (yes, he’s been in government that long), he campaigned alongside segregationist Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina to push back against the government’s attempt to integrate school districts through federal mandates.
On the debate stage, Kamala Harris told a very personal story.
“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” Harris said, looking at Biden. Her voice quivering, she added, “That little girl was me.”
It was the defining moment of the night… And while it provided her with an initial boost in polls, she saw her numbers quickly descend. Most likely, I suspect, because the attack did not sit well with the party or with everyday Americans.
Biden, for his part, didn’t quite know what to do. Clearly, he wasn’t prepared for the onslaught, and let’s face it, he’s not exactly the best at thinking on his feet.
Remember, there’s a fine line between making your point and pushing a loved party stalwart into a corner… one from which he’s considered too weak to crawl out.
Ultimately, by attacking a Democrat icon like Biden, it felt like she was making an attack on the party itself.
The question for tonight, however, is will Harris deploy that same devastating skill in going after Pence? And if she does, will it backfire?
Pence will be more adept at defending himself. He’s polished and knows how to stick to a script without getting flustered. Pence is competent. He’s measured, deliberate, thoughtful… and, for better or for worse, a little bit plain vanilla. Which, these days? Makes him the perfect alter-ego to Donald Trump.
Harris is more of what people in the entertainment business call “a presence.” In some ways, it seems strange she has been cast in the vice-presidential role when she often seems more presidential than even Biden himself.
Personalities aside, the problem with Kamala and the liberal economic agenda is that ultimately it would destroy our American economy and way of life. I, personally, would like to see Senator Harris, who has offered little in the way of meaningful economic policy, answer the tough questions surrounding the Biden tax plan. A new report this week, for example, indicates the Biden plan would cost the average American $8,000 in lost wages.
As for Pence, why are we still spending so much taxpayer money? Does anyone care about the debt and deficits anymore?
Pence is well known for his belief in supply-side economics. His economic policy is the antithesis of Harris, who has demonstrated favoritism for socialism. I’m a fan of Pence’s economic agenda, which is pretty simple… Low taxes and less regulation equals more growth. And, so far, it’s worked.
Harris, on the other hand, will take us down a path that has more in common with socialist nations like Cuba and Venezuela than the United States. Her coronavirus stimulus proposal, for example, is effectively a kind of basic income. With Senator Bernie Sanders, she introduced a proposal to provide every U.S. resident with an income below $120,000, including non-citizens, with $2,000 a month until three months after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided. Fundamentally, our economy cannot afford an indefinite handout such as that.
Meanwhile, her tax-policy ideas, including the reinstitution of a tax cut benefiting the wealthiest Americans in high-tax states, are entirely out of touch with the middle-class agenda she allegedly supports. Specifically, she would like (as many in her party would) to see a repeal of the Trump administration’s corporate and individual tax cuts, including the individual tax cuts that benefit the middle class while penalizing the ultra-wealthy in locations like New York and California.
If you didn’t already know, I’m not a fan of taxes… But who is? Especially when bloated government programs offer so little in return for our hard-earned dollars.
In the case of these high-tax states, the president’s new policies prohibit the deduction of state and local taxes from the federal return, and yet, THIS is what Kamala Harris is choosing to fight? I mean… really. If you’re going to campaign for lower taxes for the rich, just be honest about it!
A new study from the Federal Reserve indicated middle class and poor Americans saw more income growth under the Trump administration than any other in recent history. But Kamala and Joe still think “taxing the rich” is the golden ticket.
Meanwhile, on a personal note, I rather like her demeanor… (most of the time… not always) because I do appreciate her directness and willingness to intellectually box her opponent into a corner. I find it refreshing.
But America doesn’t vote entirely on personality. America also votes on policy. And with that in mind…
Why should we trade prosperity, capitalism, and freedom… for high taxes, slow growth, and economic instability?
That’s REALLY the question that should be asked tonight. Though, judging what we’ve seen from the media and debate moderators thus far, I don’t suspect we’ll hear it.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
Trish’s Take Disaster: New Study Finds Biden’s Tax Plan Will Slash Jobs, Cost American Households Up to $8k Each
“We are in jeopardy of falling back into the high inflation, low wage, low growth scenario of the 1970s, complete with bell-bottoms and sideburns!”
Trump testing positive for Covid-19 means the president’s health is in danger, not U.S. security
Listening to some of the analysis over the last several days, you can be forgiven for believing otherwise.
How past U.S. presidents have battled illness in office
A hidden stroke… A heart attack that was presented as indigestion… The American presidency’s history of incapacity and sickness.
A tale about two-wheeled island hopping in the midnight sun
Searching for the meaning of travel at 11 miles an hour… “Everybody has their own America, and then they have pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can’t see… So the fantasy corners of America … you’ve pieced them together from scenes in movies and music and lines from books.”
And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected].
Executive Editor, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
October 7, 2020