First, the effort seemed even more a propaganda show and less a debate than have the presidential examples so far. In other wors, it seemed a scripted show , a propagandafest.
The Republican candidate was a hapless Christian condemned to the arena to feed the Democratic lion under the management of the approving and complicit host. It began when it was made clear that the Republican’s wife is no sylph, hardly a relevant bit of information. Then it was carefully shown that the Democrat is taller than his GOP opposite.Does anyone recall the fuss recently to assure that Hillary’s diminutive stature vis a vis Trump was not visible to the presidential debate cameras?
Finally, the ‘host’ repeatedly bullied Mr. Pence and encouraged Mr. Kaine, while allowing the latter considerably more latitude than the former. It was not a debate; it had more the appearance of a kangaroo court, to this observer. And that gave rise to a thought: If we had been standing on Mr. Pence’s dais at the start of this pastiche, we would have felt justified to inform the ‘host’ that we had better things to do with our time, better at least than standing up as a target for unprincipled advocates of our opponent. We would have bowed politely and departed, leaving the host and his henchmen to fill their air time with whatever they desired, but not with a protracted public beating of a Republican VP candidate. We would have assured that such was part of our contracts for the show.
The GOP’s Mr. Pence did no such thing. He politely accepted his beating and politely proceeded to make his quiet and unspectacular case while his bullying opponent looked down upon him. Perhaps Mr. Pence thought to make the Democratic lion look bad for its public consumption of a hapless GOP Christian? Unfortunately, reality still sucks: what we saw left only the impression that Mr. Kaine is a lion to Mr. Pence’s Christian. That leaves the voters with a choice between a bully and a victim. Which do you suppose they will prefer as vice president? We don’t know.
Of course, the VP segment is not controlling the presidential race. However, it is a portion of it, perhaps a bit more than usual when both candidates for president are historically elderly and one is subject to health questions.
As this was the only VP debate planned so far as we know, the resulting impression is likely to last. Given that we suppose that all these affairs can occur only with firm rules accepted in advance by both parties, we are left with the conclusion that first, the host TV channels needed some excitement to hype their ratings and second, that the three lead players, candidates and host, were scripted for their respective parts. Too much is at stake to leave either the business or politics to chance.
So we paraphrase Shakespeare: “All the world’s a stage and all the politicians merely players …” We are watching not so much an election, as a show.