/ October 13, 2020
Commentary by Bill Juneau
Watching the Vice Presidential debate, we got a good look at the grimacing, smug grin and head shaking of Democratic candidate Kamala Harris who is relatively new on the national stage. She is Joe Biden's selection as his running mate and the televised debate with Mike Pence, the sitting vice president, allowed Democrats to showcase Harris.
The debate was livestreamed for viewers all over the world and the candidates were pictured side by side on a screen, though they were actually separated by about 10 feet on the stage and by sheets of plexiglass, respecting the need for distancing as is prudent in avoiding the covid-19.
They were watched as they spoke and observed as their opponent was speaking. It was revealing. For the most part, Pence, who was never bothered by a nasty fly that landed on his neatly cropped white hair, was always respectful, reserved and unrattled by his distaff opponent; and he was poised and thoughtful when he spoke.
As was her style, the 55-year-old Harris was seen smirking and annoyed as a composed Pence rejected her claims that President Trump had mishandled the pandemic and that thousands had died because of his slow reaction to the crisis. "Joe," said Harris, knows how to cope with Covid-19, and fix it. Throughout their 90-minute debate, Harris always referred to her running mate, former Vice President Biden, in a folksy way, as just plain "Joe."
"Sounds to me," said Pence , "like 'Joe' wants to do exactly what President Trump has done in confronting and beating down the pandemic...he is taking it right from the Trump handbook," he said.
"Looks a little like plagiarism....which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about," Pence pointed out to Harris' discomfort.
The plagiarism reference recalled how Biden came close to being expelled from law school in the mid-1960s for plagiarizing the work of others. Biden squeaked through Syracuse law school, finishing near the bottom of his class. Classmates have remembered him as the "dumbest s.o.b." in the school. In 1988, Biden, a Delaware senator, made his first run to be President, but was forced to withdraw as a candidate after he was caught plagiarizing portions of a speech given by a prominent British politician.
Harris often fell back on listing her biography in excruciating detail when she did not want to answer a question.
The 90 minute debate was held in Kingsley Hall of the University of Utah. Moderator was Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, a newspaper well known for its enmity for President Trump, disparaging him in editorials on an almost daily basis. Page is the author of a book on Nancy Pelosi, "Madam Speaker" scheduled for release next April. So far as is known, Ms. Page is not a registered Democrat, but her employment credentials and asking of questions speaks to her liberal loyalties. Chris Wallace of Fox News, a registered Democrat of long standing, moderated the Trump-Biden debate on September 29 and there was no hiding his political preferences.
Responding to questions from Page, Harris, 55, assured viewers that "Joe" would not be raising taxes on anyone other than those making at least $400,000 per year. Pence noted that Biden had said that he would repeal the Trump tax cuts in 2017 which put $2,000 in the pocket of all average working families. Can't have it both ways, was Pence's message.
Harris repeated a couple more times that there would be no tax increase by "Joe." Pence interrupted Harris, offering Biden's own words that he will "repeal the Trump tax cuts on his first day in office."
"I am speaking," Harris snapped, in a tone reminiscent of your most disliked school teacher . "I am speaking."
Pence appeared amused at Harris' contrived grin as she continued to extol Joe's plans for righting the ship of state, which she and "Joe" clearly blame Trump for sinking. "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not entitled to your own facts," admonished Pence. He added that he respected Harris right to have an opinion, but said that truth does matter.
When Moderator Page steered the candidates to the subject of the Supreme Court, Pence praised Amy Coney Barrett as a woman who will make an outstanding Supreme Court justice. He said that he hoped that Judge Barrett will receive a fair hearing with questions from senators on the judiciary committee---"unlike the treatment which Justice Kavanaugh received from you, Sen. Harris, and others" said Pence.
During the Kavanaugh hearing last year, Harris, as a member of the Senate Judiciary committee, attempted to bulldoze Kavanaugh with obtuse and irrelevant questions. President Trump has called Harris "a real beaut" and a very nasty woman who wanted the spotlight. Pence also referenced her having disparaged another judicial nominee for being a member of the Knights of Columbus which holds pro-life views. Harris did not deny or apologize for torching a judicial candidate because of his religion, while asking questions as a member of the senate's committee on the judiciary, but offered the mitigating thought that "both Joe and I are people of faith."
Moderator Page ignored the subject of "court packing" which Democrats have promised to do in the event that conservative Amy Barrett becomes a Justice of the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, Pence considered it important and asked Harris how she and Biden stood on the question of adding justices to the court. Harris declined to say how she stood on that question, and then got angry and said, If you want to talk about "packing: I will talk about it...I will not be lectured by you."
Harris then contended that President Trump had appointed some 50 justices to the Appellate courts, and not one was was Black. "Lets talk about 'packing,' " she said. Her comment was totally irrelevant, and has nothing to do with "packing" the supreme court with Democrat judges so that the nation's highest court will become a legislative body. Many Blacks have been appointed as district judges by President Trump, and while no Black was among the past appointments to the Appellate court, one new judge was Hispanic and eight others were Asian Americans. Bottom line: Harris refused to provide her position or "joe's" position on "packing."
Both Biden and Harris are on record for having said they were opposed to "fracking" a technique used to produce natural gas. In September of last year, Harris said at a town meeting that "There's no question I'm in favor of banning fracking." But when the subject came up, Harris said that she and "Joe" will not prevent fracking. "Joe and I are for fracking."
Harris at one point referred to some plans for redoing the justice system and mentioned that Joe's administration will "get rid of private prisons and cash bail....,
On the subject of police reform, Pence said that Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina brought Republicans and Democrats together and tried to pass a solid reform bill and "you ( Sen. Harris) got up and walked out of the room, and later filibustered the bill on the Senate floor."
The debate went on without a break and other questions dealt with the economy and health care. Page declined to ask Harris about her endorsement for tax funded abortions, open borders, free schooling and free health care for all, including illegal aliens.
This was the only vice presidential debate.
Bill Juneau worked for 25 years as a reporter and night city editor at the Chicago Tribune. Subsequently he became a partner in a law firm and also served as a village prosecutor and as a consultant to the Cook County Circuit Court and to the Cook County Medical Examiner. He is currently writing columns and the 'Florida Bill' blog.
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