Because of his stellar debate performance, some think Mike Pence was positioning himself for a presidential run in 2020. But if likability still matters, it's likelier that Tim Kaine was taking himself out of the 2020 running.
From the very beginning, it was as though Kaine was auditioning for the role of a despicable shyster in some cheesy TV legal drama. And with her frequent interruptions of Pence at key moments, it's also as if debate moderator Elaine Quijano was trying to help him get the part.
Kaine focused mainly on three things: smarmily interrupting and taunting Pence, mouthing tired Democratic talking points, and slamming Donald Trump. What is it with Democratic vice presidential candidates such as Kaine and Joe Biden that compels them to act like jerks in these debates?
It makes you wonder whether their focus groups have convinced Democrats that aggressive rudeness, delivered with an inappropriate smile, trumps likability and common decency. Or is it that their debate training and handlers inform them that mocking and interrupting are such effective tactics that they're worth whatever fallout they bring?
Am I overthinking this? Could it be that Kaine's insolence is in his makeup and was not a strategy to knock Pence off his game? I ask because even liberal commentators seemed surprised by Kaine's deportment. One wondered aloud whether he'd been wrong in assuming Kaine is a nice guy.
It wouldn't have been so awful if Quijano hadn't been serving as Kaine's tag-team partner. But as predisposed as I am to see left-wing media bias, Quijano's was screamingly obvious.
When Pence launched on Clinton's email and foundation scandals, Quijano invariably cut him off midsentence with annoying warnings that his time would elapse in 30 seconds. Just imagine a neutral college debate judge issuing verbal time warnings every time a debater hit pay dirt. Pence was remarkably unruffled, though, and managed to stay focused, but that wasn't enough, because when he continued with his point, either Kaine or Quijano would make sure no one heard it. And unlike some of Kaine's spurious attacks, Pence was raising very serious issues that are relevant to the nation's future. Hillary Clinton's email and foundation scandals matter; they are not just Republican talking points.
Pence was gracious and cogent, and when it came to social issues, he was refreshingly unapologetic about his politically incorrect beliefs, which was a joy to watch. True, he didn't effectively defend some of Trump's statements, but that would be difficult for anyone, and he did point out that Kaine was often distorting and exaggerating and avoiding a discussion of policy issues.
Kaine, for all his obnoxiousness in demeanor, was even worse on the issues — when he was cornered into addressing them. He and Clinton can't afford to engage in a substantive policy debate, because they embrace President Obama's indefensible record, from the perpetually anemic economy to the staggering national debt to America's declining military to the explosive proliferation of terrorism at home and abroad from the Islamic State group and Islamic State-inspired individuals and groups to our porous borders to executive lawlessness to the disastrous Obamacare, which even Clinton's spouse has ridiculed.
Kaine could only cite bogus statistics that contradict the undeniable experience of millions of Americans — a point Pence drove home — and try to scare traditional Democratic constituency groups into voting with the abominable multi-headed lie that Republicans are uncompassionate, racist, sexist homophobes who care only about the wealthy.
Whether in this life or the next, there eventually has to be accountability for the left's ceaseless exploitation of minorities and women, whom they view as objects and treat as props — all because they care more about political power than about people or the good of the country. How dare Kaine and Clinton ridicule Republicans for eroding infrastructure when their devotion to pseudo-religions such as environmentalism and their enslavement by liberal ideology lead them to divert tax revenues to unconscionably wasteful projects. How dare they shame us about the plight of minorities and the middle class when their policies are designed to make more and more people dependent on government and keep them in power.
The Clinton-Kaine strategy in a nutshell, which Kaine implemented in the debate, is, "Well, if we were forced to be honest, we'd have to admit that our policies are making America less safe, devastating minorities and the middle class, smothering the economy, dismantling America's social fabric, destroying race relations, and fomenting class envy and resentment. So the only way we can win elections is to convince Americans that Republicans hate people worse than Democratic policies do."
Let's hope Kaine was just creepy enough to alienate even a small sliver of the Democrats' core constituency groups. It wouldn't take many to make a dramatic electoral difference.
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is "The Emmaus Code: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament." Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.