Impressions of the Vice Presidential Debate

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune


Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune

Well, it came, it happened, and it’s over. And I don’t think either side came out looking all that good, certainly not great in my opinion.
Here are my comments, based solely on my impressions of the candidates as they presented themselves on stage, not what I think of them personally or in their present capacities, but only as they presented themselves during the debate.
It probably doesn’t mean anything that both candidates and the moderator, Susan Page, were all dressed in Black. It was noteworthy, but not significantly so; however, it automatically lent a somber note to the whole event.
One thing that was significant though — to me — were the expressions on Kamala Harris’s face, which showed rolling of eyes, smirking, a look of disbelief, and the shaking of her head, I should add that it is probably close to impossible to not react in some kind of facial way during a debate of this kind. However Mike Pence did not have nearly as many facial expressions, being somewhat more stoic in his responses, but he was big on shaking his head no, even a little bit, while saying no in a quiet kind of way to Kamala’s remarks. But the really big thing that annoyed me about Vice President Pence was his total disregard for the moderator’s rules on time, mostly, and also about the issues, which made him look rude and insensitive.
But the other thing that made me annoyed about Pence’s presentation was almost equal to that first bad habit of his — the run-on time of his comments — and that was the way he would use up most, if not all, of the time he was allotted for answering the moderator’s next question, a question that he already had commented on in that run-over time, by harking back to the previous question and saying he would rather continue commenting on that instead of answering the moderator’s question that she just put forth. Some commentators on how to handle a debate believe that what Pence did in that regard was the best way to handle it to get in everything he had to say. And that may well be…but for those of us who truly wanted to hear the candidates’ answers to the questions, hearing that routine from Pence was quite a turn-off.
While I’m still speaking of Pence, my impression of him is that he has just about the perfect look of a vice president or even that of a president — but looks are not only not everything, they are often not even anything, in my estimation, as far as qualifications for the job goes. If I were to grade our vice president on this debate alone, as a candidate, I would give him a passing grade, but just barely, based on what I already said. While those who obviously are backing the Trump-Pence ticket didn’t think that those two major faults that Pence displayed in the debate were worth much of a mention, they were quick to praise him in any number of ways.
Well, yes, his demeanor was better than Kamala’s, his voice was smoother and seemed to make some points that had more truth to them than Kamala’s did, but in the after-debate chatter, obviously those who were voting for the Biden-Harris ticket didn’t see her faults as clearly as they saw those of the VP. Senator Harris seemed to have a tendency to blatantly lie about several things (fracking, Trump’s taxes, etc.), but whether or not I particularly liked Mike Pence prior to the debate, I am only judging our Vice President on how he did in the debate.
We give rules to our children growing up about how to behave, about not talking over people and by saying things like excuse me, and thank you and please, and yet they watch these debates (and I don’t mean just this one tonight) and see all the rules of politeness broken and disregarded. In fact, the very last question of the night that was put to the candidates by the moderator came from an eighth-grade student, Brecklynn Brown, at Springville Junior High in Salt Lake City, Utah, and it addressed the argumentative, combative style of our politicians in her well-thought-out question, chosen as the one to use in this debate out of over 700 entries:
“‘When I watch the news, all I see is arguing between Democrats and Republicans,’” Page said, quoting Brown’s essay. “‘When I watch the news, all I see is citizen fighting against citizen. When I watch the news, all I see are two candidates from opposing parties trying to tear each other down. If our leaders can’t get along, how are the citizens supposed to get along?’ Then she added, ‘Your examples could make all the difference to bring us together.’” In other words, Brecklynn, “Why can’t we all just get along, whether we disagree or not?”
Even the candidates’ responses to that question didn’t really give her the answer she likely was looking for. They gave a “politicians’ answer” instead of one that could’ve sounded more real.
But don’t let anything I said above make you think I would give Kamala Harris a superior grade. If Kamala passed, if I were grading her, it would be by the skin of her teeth. But I really don’t think she did any better than Mike Pence. (Don’t politicians ever learn from watching the playback of all those debates?) It doesn’t matter who you like, or which presidential candidate one is voting for, if a candidate doesn’t do a really good job in a debate,that can’t be changed after the fact.
While Pence displayed wanton and almost arrogant disregard of the time limits, Kamala showed her disregard as well. No matter when I’ve ever watched any candidate, that particular disregard was an amazingly large turn-off. And while our Vice President felt it was more important to talk about the previous question during his next chance to respond to the moderator’s current question — true, there might have been more to say — isn’t there always? — Kamala seemed to impose her “more to say” almost as much. And she had stated several times that she wouldn’t be lectured to by our Vice President. But might not the whole point of such a pre-programmed presentation be to show how each candidate would likely act in the capacity of being the elected vice president (which Mike Pence has already had experience in doing for the last four years)? If that is even possibly true, the other thing that bothered me greatly about our dear Vice President is that he actually stole some of Kamala’s time. Just interrupted her and kept talking even though Kamala often reminded Mike that it was her turn to speak. Whether or not I or anyone would have preferred to hear Pence over Harris has nothing to do with the situation; that was a giant no-no that lowered his standing in my grading system.
One last thing that took points away from both of them is that, as usual, they failed to give forthright answers to straightforward
questions. Really important for any voter to know would be is the person I’m voting for in favor of late-term abortions? We can understand being in favor of choice for the woman, but what mother would ever want to even imagine being in favor of late-term abortions?
For those who don’t know what that means, it means aborting (killing) the baby while it is perfectly viable (able to live) outside of the mother’s body. It might even mean, depending on who is the doctor, killing the baby after it is born.
And on and on it went. Not like the presidential debate, on which I will not comment, but it was definitely not boring! We got to see what we will be getting.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at

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