In VP Debate, Pence Helps Harris Strawman Herself

“While Harris was largely reduced to fending off Pence’s accusations of government takeover … Pence lived up to his surname by being penny wise but pound foolish on the matter.” Read The Griffin’s analysis of Wednesday’s VP Debate.

From the displays seen from both the democratic and republican ticket in these debates, it is unlikely either party will receive a monument

The biggest takeaway from Wednesday’s vice presidential debate wasn’t the fly landing on Republican Mike Pence’s head, Democrat Kamala Harris’ avoidance of the court-packing question, or even Pence’s quasi-rueful routine about Harris undermining confidence in a vaccine. Instead, it was the subtle jockeying of each to establish their place on the political spectrum. Pence was clearly focused on the narrative that Harris is the most liberal member of the Senate. This may have been true in the first half of her Senate term, but Harris has since joined a ticket with Joe Biden, who revels in his rejection of the left-wing faction of his party, and has shied away from progressive policies since she dropped out of the Democratic primary. It was pretty stunning to see a candidate from the more popular party playing defense against an incumbent vice president whose administration has seen hundreds of thousands die from a pandemic, but that’s what happens when you allow your opponent to formulate your ideology for you. Pence knows exactly where he lies politically, and he took advantage of Harris’ indecision over whether to embrace the left-wing or center of her party to portray her with a flimsy, naive ideology of higher taxes and government control. 

The biggest takeaway from Wednesday’s vice presidential debate wasn’t the fly landing on Republican Mike Pence’s head, Democrat Kamala Harris’ avoidance of the court-packing question, or even Pence’s quasi-rueful routine about Harris undermining confidence in a vaccine. Instead, it was the subtle jockeying of each to establish their place on the political spectrum. Pence was clearly focused on the narrative that Harris is the most liberal member of the Senate. This may have been true in the first half of her Senate term, but Harris has since joined a ticket with Joe Biden, who revels in his rejection of the left-wing faction of his party, and has shied away from progressive policies since she dropped out of the Democratic primary.

It was pretty stunning to see a candidate from the more popular party playing defense against an incumbent vice president whose administration has seen hundreds of thousands die from a pandemic, but that’s what happens when you allow your opponent to formulate your ideology for you. Pence knows exactly where he lies politically, and he took advantage of Harris’ indecision over whether to embrace the left-wing or center of her party to portray her with a flimsy, naive ideology of higher taxes and government control. 

While healthcare reform was touched on, the real fireworks came during the exchange over climate change. Pence lived up to his surname by being penny wise but pound foolish on the matter. He said that climate change isn’t causing more hurricanes, but conveniently omitted that scientists argue that while climate change doesn’t affect the frequency of hurricanes, it does make storms stronger.

Naturally, he attacked the Biden-Harris climate plan as an expensive government takeover, failing to mention that ignoring climate change will cost significantly more and will lead to more misery for small businesses and normal citizens than the relatively paltry plans proposed by Biden. Harris, for her part, forgot to mention this, showing how little she understands the need for or is willing to commit to energy reform. This should have been a slam-dunk for Harris, but her response came off as more of an obligatory promise to think about reform rather than a specific plan that outlined the costs of inaction versus action. 

When even the purported defender of a plan forgets the strongest argument for the plan, that should be a signal that they don’t actually support the plan. Unfortunately, Biden and Harris insist on pretending to be progressive while not knowing how to defend progressive policies. Pence did well to pressure Harris to reject the Green New Deal because it forces her to abandon genuine climate reform, which angers progressives, while still embracing an expensive government program in the Biden plan, which angers centrists and conservatives. Because Harris did such a confusing and miserable job defending government intervention in energy, millions of Americans think that Harris is for the Green New Deal and that her climate plan sucks, leading them to conclude that the Green New Deal sucks. This is bad for Harris and for supporters of the Green New Deal, who don’t have a representative to defend their plan against lies from Pence and misleading statements from Harris. 

The Republican ticket had a clear plan to echo key words and phrases that would drive home their portrayal of the Democrat ticket as some combination of Marxist and anarchist. Pence’s repetition of words like mandate, abolish, and ban, as well as his subtly condescending tone, mirrored Donald Trump’s in the presidential debate. He did brilliantly to contrast his “trust of the American people” with Harris’ “mandates.” The language was carefully used to paint Biden and Harris as bumbling elitists. Telling Harris that she’s “entitled to her opinion” was obnoxious, but it made him seem like he was chiding an idealistic youth. While she did successfully attack Pence over the repeal of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Harris was largely reduced to fending off Pence’s accusations of government takeover. She would have been better served to ignore his wild jabs and detail how a Biden-Harris administration would improve the country, not just how another Trump-Pence term would hurt it. Harris had her moments, particularly when discussing Trump’s debt and failure with COVID-19, but Pence was able to exploit Harris’ indecision over whether she should toe the centrist Biden line or continue her liberal voting record from the Senate.

Well before Biden tapped her to be his running mate, Harris was positioning herself to be part of a Biden administration. If there are two overarching branches of the Democratic Party, then the most basic litmus test is support for Medicare for All. She co-sponsored Medicare for All in the Senate in 2017 and supported it during the first Democratic debate, but, according to Nicole Goodkind of Newsweek, she dropped her support of it in August of 2019, which just happened to be after her polling numbers had undergone a precipitous decline. She adopted the public option plan espoused by Biden and has refrained from the harsh attacks she aimed at Biden in that first primary debate.

 Her record marks her a Sanders-style Democrat but her newfound centrism prevents her from defending Sanders’ ideas. If there was any hope of a return to her left-wing Senate roots, it was dashed by her concluding remarks touting the endorsements of John Kasich, members of the Bush cabinet, and even Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State that presented fabricated evidence which would lead to the Iraq War. 

Kamala Harris was selected to be the heir to a one-term Biden administration. She checks the diversity boxes, and will probably secure the coveted title of vice president, but she doesn’t inspire much hope for 2024. For as far left and manipulative as conservative commentators make Kamala Harris out to be, she has demonstrated repeatedly that a future President Harris would be a younger Joe Biden. 

If the Democrats trot out Harris in 2024, they’ll undoubtedly note her skin color, gender, and experience. She managed to pin herself down as a theoretical leftist and a practicing centrist. She thinks she’ll have a good shot at winning older voters with her vice presidential experience and younger voters with her status of not being an ancient white male, and she evidently sees that as cause to play it safe on policy, but her performance in the debate and inconsistent policy preferences allows conservatives to joyfully label her a socialist without her gaining the support of that wing of her party.

While healthcare reform was touched on, the real fireworks came during the exchange over climate change. Pence lived up to his surname by being penny wise but pound foolish on the matter. He said that climate change isn’t causing more hurricanes, but conveniently omitted that scientists argue that while climate change doesn’t affect the frequency of hurricanes, it does make storms stronger.

Naturally, he attacked the Biden-Harris climate plan as an expensive government takeover, failing to mention that ignoring climate change will cost significantly more and will lead to more misery for small businesses and normal citizens than the relatively paltry plans proposed by Biden. Harris, for her part, forgot to mention this, showing how little she understands the need for or is willing to commit to energy reform. This should have been a slam-dunk for Harris, but her response came off as more of an obligatory promise to think about reform rather than a specific plan that outlined the costs of inaction versus action. 

When even the purported defender of a plan forgets the strongest argument for the plan, that should be a signal that they don’t actually support the plan. Unfortunately, Biden and Harris insist on pretending to be progressive while not knowing how to defend progressive policies. Pence did well to pressure Harris to reject the Green New Deal because it forces her to abandon genuine climate reform, which angers progressives, while still embracing an expensive government program in the Biden plan, which angers centrists and conservatives. Because Harris did such a confusing and miserable job defending government intervention in energy, millions of Americans think that Harris is for the Green New Deal and that her climate plan sucks, leading them to conclude that the Green New Deal sucks. This is bad for Harris and for supporters of the Green New Deal, who don’t have a representative to defend their plan against lies from Pence and misleading statements from Harris. 

The Republican ticket had a clear plan to echo key words and phrases that would drive home their portrayal of the Democrat ticket as some combination of Marxist and anarchist. Pence’s repetition of words like mandate, abolish, and ban, as well as his subtly condescending tone, mirrored Donald Trump’s in the presidential debate. He did brilliantly to contrast his “trust of the American people” with Harris’ “mandates.” The language was carefully used to paint Biden and Harris as bumbling elitists. Telling Harris that she’s “entitled to her opinion” was obnoxious, but it made him seem like he was chiding an idealistic youth. While she did successfully attack Pence over the repeal of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Harris was largely reduced to fending off Pence’s accusations of government takeover. She would have been better served to ignore his wild jabs and detail how a Biden-Harris administration would improve the country, not just how another Trump-Pence term would hurt it. Harris had her moments, particularly when discussing Trump’s debt and failure with COVID-19, but Pence was able to exploit Harris’ indecision over whether she should toe the centrist Biden line or continue her liberal voting record from the Senate.

Well before Biden tapped her to be his running mate, Harris was positioning herself to be part of a Biden administration. If there are two overarching branches of the Democratic Party, then the most basic litmus test is support for Medicare for All. She co-sponsored Medicare for All in the Senate in 2017 and supported it during the first Democratic debate, but, according to Nicole Goodkind of Newsweek, she dropped her support of it in August of 2019, which just happened to be after her polling numbers had undergone a precipitous decline. She adopted the public option plan espoused by Biden and has refrained from the harsh attacks she aimed at Biden in that first primary debate. Her record marks her a Sanders-style Democrat but her newfound centrism prevents her from defending Sanders’ ideas. If there was any hope of a return to her left-wing Senate roots, it was dashed by her concluding remarks touting the endorsements of John Kasich, members of the Bush cabinet, and even Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State that presented fabricated evidence which would lead to the Iraq War. 

Kamala Harris was selected to be the heir to a one-term Biden administration. She checks the diversity boxes, and will probably secure the coveted title of vice president, but she doesn’t inspire much hope for 2024. For as far left and manipulative as conservative commentators make Kamala Harris out to be, she has demonstrated repeatedly that a future President Harris would be a younger Joe Biden. If the Democrats trot out Harris in 2024, they’ll undoubtedly note her skin color, gender, and experience. She managed to pin herself down as a theoretical leftist and a practicing centrist. She thinks she’ll have a good shot at winning older voters with her vice presidential experience and younger voters with her status of not being an ancient white male, and she evidently sees that as cause to play it safe on policy, but her performance in the debate and inconsistent policy preferences allows conservatives to joyfully label her a socialist without her gaining the support of that wing of her party.

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