Mike Pence Shows Trump Isn’t the Problem

Mike Pence

I appear to be in the small minority of people who found the vice-presidential debate even harder to watch than last week’s presidential debate. But I don’t think I should be. Most people just have a high tolerance for bad behavior when it comes in a soft-spoken package.

For the most part, Trump can’t help who he is. He’s clearly a man of limited intellect who has had anger problems since he was a child. And he’s lived in a culture that has mostly rewarded him for his instinctual bad behavior.

Pence’s Assembly Line of Bullshit

One of the most common ways that people described Trump’s debate performance was “feral.” That certainly isn’t a word anyone would use to describe what Pence did. Instead, he did a few things over and over:

  1. Talked way over his allotted time
  2. Ignored the question
  3. Engaged in an argument already finished
  4. Asked Kamala questions
  5. Shook his head and rolled his eyes
  6. Lied.

And he did this over and over again like it was a fucking assembly line.

Talking Over Women

What was most annoying was him continuing to speak after moderator Susan Page had asked him to stop. At times he seemed to go on well past a minute. And I would be totally understanding of this if it happened a few times. But it was clearly the plan to just keep talking.

And that gets to an important issue: this is sexism. Being a short and (until recently) painfully skinny man, I know the experience of being talked over in meetings and literally having men repeat what I said minutes before and get congratulated for their brilliance.

So I don’t react well when a man calmly talks over women and generally treats them as “little ladies” who don’t need to be taken seriously. Especially when the reaction to either Harris or Page had they lost their tempers would be to attack them as “nasty” and other gender-coded slights.

Other Annoyances

Like Trump, Pence also asked Harris questions. This is just ridiculous — and not just because neither of them did much question answering. The implication is that they are the arbiters of truth. They have nothing to answer for. But by God, they are going to get the answers for the American people from these interlopers!

Similarly, Pence consistently mischaracterized what Harris had said. For example, Harris attacked Trump for his response to COVID-19 and Pence went through all kind of contortions to claim that he would not stand by while she insulted the American people’s response to the virus!

I wouldn’t mind this stuff so much if I didn’t know that it works really well for most viewers. That’s why we need the moderators to be able to cut mics. We can’t have a situation where a total lack of regard to the rules of the debate comes off as them being “strong.”


In general, I don’t care much for Glenn Kessler. But if you read his stuff, he does get the details right. And he and his crew did a good job here, Fact-Checking the Vice-Presidential Debate Between Pence and Harris.

He did, of course, have to find two instances where Harris was wrong — even though in both cases its more of a matter of opinion. But the 13 Pence cases were devastating. Most of them were flat-out lies. And they are the kinds of things that Pence must know are not true. But he’s more than happy to push them.

Your Republican Party

The main thing is that Pence shows you what Trump really means to America: damned little. Yes, Trump is ignorant and stupid and he combines that with peak-level coarseness and villainy. And if he died, the country would be led by a man who speaks calmly. But he offers only average intelligence. He is incurious. And most important of all: he is a villain.

I really worry about this. Too many people in this country think that Trump is the problem. Trump is only important in that he pulled the mask off conservatism in this country. He showed what Republican voters really want it to be. Forget the nonsense about fiscal conservatism. Forget social conservatism! They want one thing from their party: to anger the people who care about making this country more accepting, more caring, and (Dare I say it?) more liberal.

Once Trump is gone, the party remains. The rest of America needs to see that. And at Wednesday’s debate, it was on full display with Mike Pence.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican Party!

Mike Pence by Gage Skidmore (Who else?!) under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

4 thoughts on “Mike Pence Shows Trump Isn’t the Problem

  1. Actually, that was something I was worried about during the impeachment

    Pence is more competent, more politically savvy, than Trump

    While that’s a very low bar, Pence probably could have done much of what Trump tried to do and failed

    • Right. Pence might have been a good deal worse. Also: I was concerned that a lot of people would say, “Pence is fine; I don’t care if he gets re-elected.

  2. I remember in 2012 when Romney, badly trailing in the polls, went into a debate with Obama (the second? Or first? That I don’t recall) and just boldly lied through the whole thing. Not the usual political exaggerations of one’s record/ostensible outcome of one’s proposals, either, he flat out lied. Obama was caught off guard, and the polls briefly registered a slight uptick Romney’s way. It’s been standard GOP debate operating procedure ever since. Lie. Hardcore Republican voters won’t care, since falsehoodsare in service of a Greater Truth. (And they’ll eat up how the Democratic candidate stretched truth a little as proof of how devious they are.)

    My favorite Pence moment came from him throwing out the first pitch at a AAA game in Indiana in 2017. The crowd booed the s**t outta him. He’s less popular than more in his home state. (And Indiana is by no means a liberal state.)

    I was kinda curious to see how completely he ate s**t and toed the Trump line on everything in this one; unlike Trump, he’s half-bright enough to suspect how much he’s completely at the mercy of his masters to keep him from absolute ruin. But it was either watch the debate or more “Bob’s Burgers” before my trial subscription to a streaming service ran out, and that wasn’t a difficult call. The comedy shows ran the best clips; I’m glad I missed it.

    Thanks for taking one for the team and watching this, though!

    • It was the first debate. And that’s one thing that annoys me about people like Stuart Stevens. They are absolutely fine with the lying and vile policy. And they were fine knowing that most of the base voted for them because they were the anti-black party. But the moment a man enters the race and uses blatant racism to win the nomination, that’s a bridge too far. Give me a break! They all knew! They hate Trump because he made it impossible to deny what they knew.

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