In his Wednesday night debate with Senator Kamala Harris, Vice President Mike Pence defended Donald Trump as ably as anyone could, given that the resurgent COVID-19 crisis, which Pence is in charge of handling, meant that the debate had to be conducted with plexiglass dividers.
But it’s likely that nothing Pence said threatened former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead. And nothing he did dislodged a determined fly from his head where it landed—and stayed—for nearly two minutes as he championed the Trump administration’s support for law enforcement.
The fly was the elephant in the room, as it were: a reminder that no matter how strongly Pence portrayed the administration through its accomplishments, it’s impossible to ignore the missteps.
Harris and Pence’s 90-minute debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City was the calm after the storm that was the debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Both wanted more time to address voters during their one and only debate, but they kept the interruptions to a minimum, although they argued over what constituted a “fact.”
Harris scored in finding an opportunity to share her personal story as the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother. She also avoided moments that would make it easy to dismiss her as an “angry Black woman” or “unlikeable”—unfair but unavoidable standards that a woman, and especially a woman of color, probably had to meet.
Throughout the night, Pence consistently