Pence Versus Kaine: Born To Be Mild

Reuters/Mike Segar

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Game recognizes game, and I have to hand it to the Baltimore Sun for their lede yesterday about a “high-stakes, but seemingly interminably-long competition” coming down to “a single, nationally-televised moment between second-tier antagonists.”

They were talking about the Orioles v. Blue Jays game, but you’d be forgiven for assuming it referred to tonight’s vice presidential debate.

Ironically, the veep debate is considered “boring,” at least partly because it lacks the drama that exists when one of the competitors lacks the experience or judgment required for the job. Both Mike Pence and Tim Kaine are capable of being a heartbeat away from the presidency—good news when you consider the advanced age of both principals at the top of the ticket. This is both relieving and snooze worthy.

I’ll be watching to see how Mike Pence defends Donald Trump. Pence is in an unenviable position, here, but he seems to be adept at making Trump’s past statements sound reasonable. Watch for Tim Kaine to demonstrate his Spanish fluency.

My guess is both candidates will train their fire at the top of the ticket, not at each other. The fact is that nobody votes for vice president, anyway. In the run-up to tonight’s debate, we have been subjected to relentless clips of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen destroying Dan Quayle (“You’re no Jack Kennedy!). This must be what Bill Buckner felt like every time someone errored in a World Series. But it’s helpful to remember that Bush-Quayle still won in 1988.

Even the most damaging debate moment in vice presidential history didn’t seem to make a difference. What are the odds that anything that happens tonight will matter?

Matt K. Lewis