And we're off! (All times CDT, same as the rest of the blog.)
20:01: Those chairs look comfortable, especially next to those tasteful Plexiglas shields.
20:07: "Thoughts and prayers" already off the bingo card, and from the moderator. Finally the first question 5 minutes in, on Covid-19. What will you do in January that the other guys won't? Harris: "This is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country." "Our plan: contact tracing."
20:09: To Pence: "You head the coronavirus task force. Why is our death rate higher than about every other country?" "From the very first day, [the president] has put the health of the nation first." (My first laugh of the night.) And he has quite a selective memory. And a dig at Joe Biden's plagiarism. And he won't shut up.
20:12: Harris's response hits the dead, they dying, and the January 28th day. "Mr Vice President, I'm speaking."
20:14: Pence falsely claimed that the president wanted to shut down the economy, and that "2 million might have died."
20:17: Harris: "You respect the American people when you tell them the truth." Meanwhile, one of my professional female friends texted that she wants to "bitch-slap" Pence, and to the "I'm speaking" line she texted "Do you know how often I've had to say that?"
20:19: Pence: "I would like to go back." Moderator: "We have to move on." We went back.
20:20: Pence: "Stop playing politics with people's lives." My second laugh-out-loud moment tonight. And then the canard about the swine flu epidemic.
20:21: Harris: Nice, using her answer about Biden's age to talk about her history and how Biden trusts her. "We share a purpose, which is about lifting up the American people."
20:25: Pence: "The transparency [of the president's doctors] will continue." So, no, you won't release any real information about the president's health.
20:26: Harris, pivoting from transparency on health information to transparency on taxes, to hitting the president's debts. "The American people have a right to know what is influencing the president's decisions." Bam.
20:29: Harris: "Biden will repeal [the 2017] tax bill and...invest that money in what we need to do..."
20:33: Pence just claimed credit for the Democratic Party's stimulus bills. And now he's demonstrating he has no idea how trade deficits work.
20:34: The white guy is hijacking the Black woman's time. And she's spanking him for it.
20:36: Pence: "Obamacare was a disaster...and we have a plan." Both statements are false.
20:38: Pence: "I'm very proud of our environmental record." Laugh line #3. Followed by a stream of lies about the president's record on the the environment and "a commitment to science" on climate change.
20:40: One of my friends says Harris should be pushing past the moderator the way Pence is, that she's not authoritative. I disagree.
20:41: Harris spent her answer on the Green New Deal correcting Pence's lies, and then pivoted to Biden's connection to farmers, then back to the administration's war on science. She's clear, calm, and positive.
20:43: Pence will not commit to a position on climate change consistent with science, then runs away from the question to go back to the 2017 tax cuts. He really doesn't want to talk about science because, frankly, he's one of its biggest opponents.
20:45: Harris: "You lost that trade war with China. America lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs. Farmers are in bankruptcy." Yep.
20:47: Why can't the moderator get Pence to shut up?
20:48: Pence just keeps going back to the past. Now he's talking about NAFTA? The question was about China, sir.
20:49: Pence: "China is to blame for the coronavirus." Oy gevalt. At least he's on-brand.
20:51: Harris: "There was a team of disease experts that Obama dispatched to China; this administration pulled them out." Nice. And then talking about how the world holds the Chinese leadership in higher esteem than ours. Sad and true.
20:54: This is a hell of a lot more intelligent than the last debate, I have to say. I don't think it's going to move the needle even a tiny bit.
20:56: What the hell is Pence talking about? And why won't he shut up?
20:59: Pivoting from our involvement in Syria to the president calling our armed forces "suckers and losers." And the president's inaction on Russian bounties on American troops.
21:01: Did the Susan Page's balls finally drop? Finally she told Pence to stop talking.
21:03: Pence is equating assassinating adversaries with protecting Americans. They're children.
21:07: Pence gets the question on how they would cover pre-existing conditions if the ACA gets struck down, and chooses instead to lie about how Biden supports taxpayer-funded abortions up to the moment of birth. And then asks Harris if they'll pack the court.
21:11: Pence: "They are going to pack the Supreme Court if they somehow win this election." Harris: "Let's talk about packing this court, then." And proceeds to bring up the unqualified, incompetent, and sub-standard appointments to the lower courts. Nice.
21:14: Harris pivots from the question about Breonna Taylor to George Floyd, and police reform. "Bad cops are bad for all cops."
21:16: Pence blames Harris for "the rioting and the looting." "...a great insult to the men and women who protect us...." Just shut up, honkey.
21:19: Harris: "I will not be lectured by the Vice President...I'm the only one on this stage who's prosecuted criminals. ... The president...refused to condemn white supremacists."
21:20: Pence: the president "has Jewish grandchildren." Oh for fuck's sake.
21:23: Harris, on the peaceful transfer of power: "We believe in the American people, and we believe in democracy. ... So vote!"
21:26: Pence: "I think we're going to win this election." Another laugh line. But...the question was, if you lose, what are you going to do if the president refuses to concede? He pivots to lying about the 2016 election, lying about the impeachment, and lying about voter fraud.
21:31: Another friend texts: "Wow, Pence is so scripted, so dispassionate, so...vanilla." Yes: he's the archetypical old white Christian dude. And in the spirit of Hannah Arendt, I would add "banal."
21:33: Another friend, responding to Pence's useless final answer to the final question: "Yes, we can be friends with people we disagree with until the thing we disagree about is you taking away their rights."
21:36: I didn't learn anything, but at least this debate wasn't the flaming cesspit of the last one. I watched the debate on PBS again, but I'm switching to NPR for commentary. And signing off for now.