Harris Loses Debate by Smirking

October 8, 2020 Updated: October 8, 2020


Vice President Mike Pence had his work cut out for him in his debate with Sen. Kamala Harris on Oct. 7.

Not only were the poll numbers (real or imagined) running against his ticket, not only were his opponents hammering President Donald Trump and him over the coronavirus as if they, not Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, initiated the pandemic, but if that wasn’t enough, almost the entire mainstream media was aligned against them and quite willing to lie on Biden and Harris’s behalf, as NBC did in their putative town hall earlier in the week, shamelessly palming off an audience of Biden supporters as an audience of “undecideds.”

And speaking of “undecideds,” were there even any left in the wildly polarized world of annus horribilis 2020?

Had E.M. Forster’s “Two Cheers for Democracy” been reduced to barely one?

What then was the purpose of debating?

Actually, as I watched the vice presidential debate, I came to the conclusion—very little.

But perhaps that’s because I am so biased against Harris—who has seemed to me a total phony since I lived in California, an empty vessel, not even really a liberal or a progressive, but an opportunist interested in the main chance who would vote conservative if she represented Mississippi—that I am not in the slightest a neutral observer.

But I wonder if there are any neutral observers—certainly not in the media.

Once again the moderator—Susan Page of USA Today—was biased, though not as much as Chris Wallace, which would be difficult. Indeed, the host of Fox News Sunday carried that attitude forward into the Oct. 7 post-debate spin, predictably looking to say something bad about Mike Pence who, all-in-all, had a good night.

Basically, Pence’s was a workman-like performance, while Harris smirked at his responses unappealingly for the camera, close-up, in split screen. (Don’t debate prep coaches warn about this? It certainly makes the candidate the kind of person you’d want to run from at a cocktail party.)

I wasn’t surprised that pollster Frank Luntz’s focus group declared Pence the winner because of this smirking.

I’m not a fan of these political focus groups, but for once I found myself reacting like one. I think many people did simply because we’ve all heard the opinions of these candidates ad infinitum at this point. We’re just interested in what they’re like.

Are they going to surprise us with any new ideas? Not likely. We get the reverse instead—the same few points hammered into oblivion. (Did you know Trump let 210,000 Americans die?)

The real question is—do we believe them? Or, as Luntz put it, who do we distrust less?

Harris and Biden have made volte-faces since the primary campaign on taxes (suddenly they only go up for those who make over $400K, although the Trump tax cuts will be rescinded—go figure) and fracking (that was once verboten but is now OK, sort of). There are others.

Whether the Supreme Court will be packed remains a state secret.

Trump and Pence are what they are. WYSIWYG.

It was only near the end that the debate caught my attention. When asked the inevitable question about whether Trump would honor an orderly transition if he lost, Pence launched into a discussion of what we all know—the Democrats themselves never honored the president’s victory from 2016, launched the bogus Russia investigation and the farcical impeachment. (Harris was doing some heavy smirking during this. Wallace, of course, said nothing about it later—old news to him, I suppose. Irrelevant.)

What I wish Pence had gone into was the astonishing, I could even say stupefying, news of the day—far more interesting than the debate itself:

“Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Wednesday said that he has provided nearly 1,000 pages of material to the Justice Department to support U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation.”

Only now? 27 days before the election! One would have thought… oh, well. Back to the debate.

The consensus of the punditocracy was that it “did not move the needle.” I disagree. I think it moved it a little bit if only by giving Trump an example of how to represent the accomplishments of his administration better for the next debate. Pence did that for him.

POTUS also might want to tell America then what’s in those 1000 pages. It might give Biden something to chew on.

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning author, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, cofounder of PJMedia, and now columnist for The Epoch Times. Find him on Parler and Twitter @rogerlsimon. Buy (and enjoy) his books on Amazon.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.