Editorial: Vice Presidential Debate


The Vice Presidential debate last Tuesday brought many questions to the table. Who should be the next VPOTUS? What type of Vice President do we need? According to most, GOP candidate Mike Pence won the debate. But why? Some claim that he lied more times than Tim Kaine. But Pence was poised and collected. He sat with an air of command. While Kaine appeared flustered. Also one reason most liked Pence was because of what, those who watched on their television, experienced. The camera angles on the debate floor made Kaine appear to stare off into space when he addressed the crowd, therefore, making him seem as though he wasn’t confident and that didn’t translate well with the televised crowd. But the debate itself didn’t hold well with the crowd in the first place. More people ended up tuning into the American League wild card game between the Orioles and Blue Jays. Why? Because according to Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, “it was borderline unwatchable. There was so much cross talk and so little actual question-answering that it felt like watching two kids throw mashed potatoes at each other. (Actually, watching two kids throw mashed potatoes at each other would have been a heck of a lot more entertaining.)” So was it worth it? Was it worth the months of planning and preparation for this debate? Well it depends on what you want to know. Watching the debate you would have seen a nervous Tim Kaine continuously attacking Pence’s running mate, Trump. And then you would have seen a put together Mike Pence, not necessarily defending Trump, but more defending his party and possibly setting the stage for a Pence campaign in the 2020 or 2024 elections. But the debate still seemed pointless. In fact, we didn’t have a vice presidential debate until 1976, and didn’t even have one in 1980. Do we need one? It would be nice to know how the next Veep will match with his/her running mate. It gives the public an idea as to what type of person will be in position to take over should something happen to the president. Throughout history it has happened 14 times where a VP has had to become Commander-in-Chief either through illness, assassination, or being elected immediately following their predecessor. So it is nice and reassuring to know who will lead us in such a situation. But we are a generation that lives in the moment, and we care more about the next president, not the possible one. So that’s who the media covers. And that’s good. We do need to know who will be our leader for the next four years and maybe the next four. Through that the VP candidates get thrown on the backburner. 40% of Americans of voting age can’t even name the VP candidates for this year. By that logic though it almost seems as if we do need the debate so we can learn the names of the candidates at least.

Another reason we may not need the debates is because of a bit of media known as an “attack ad”. Attack ads are displayed on TV and radio to try to persuade people to take their side. Right before Tuesday’s debate, the Grand Ol’ Party released one such ad against Tim Kaine. And it was pretty powerful. Before becoming junior Senator of Virginia, Kaine had a rich political career including holding such seats as; DNC chairman, Governor of Virginia, and Mayor of Richmond. But before all that he was a lawyer in Richmond and Georgia. It is this career that the GOP attacks. During that career he defended those such as, Richard Lee Whitley, who sexually assaulted his elderly neighbor. At Whitley’s execution Kaine was quoted as saying,”Something personal in me dies with Whitley.” He also defended Percy Walton, who murdered three people. As governor, Kaine commuted his sentence. Jens Soering and his girlfriend murdered a couple in their home. Governor Kaine tried to have them deported to Germany where parole would be available in two years. Of course critics cited that these sources may not be viable. They also complained that it was a throwback to the Willie Horton ad used in 1988 against Michael Dukakis. Dukakis was running against George H.W. Bush and an ad was released on their standings when it comes to crime and punishment. Bush supported the death penalty. Dukakis didn’t. To exploit that, the ad cited the case of Willie Horton. Horton was convicted for murder. But Dukakis was shamed for allowing convicts with life sentences, like Horton, weekend passes from prison. The ad was itself was then scrutinized for racial profiling and shaming, seeing as how Horton was a black man. Though in the end Bush won. Personally, the VP debate is a 50/50 on whether we need it. Knowing their standings is important to me, but there are other things to worry about at my age.