9 Oct, 2020

News digest for 10/08/2020

The first and only Vice presidential debate of this election cycle took place: Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris argued about the economy, coronavirus, abortion and the trade war. What was missing from this debate was the personal insults and unwillingness to listen to an opponent that marked the candidates for the country’s highest office, Donald trump and Joe Biden, at their first face-to-face election meeting a week ago. On Thursday, it became known that Mr. trump decided not to participate in the second debate.

The first face-to-face meeting between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris was important. Because of the coronavirus infection, Donald trump decided not to participate in the second round of the debate (it was planned to hold an online event, and not a fight between two politicians in one room). As noted on Thursday in the election headquarters of the current head of the White house, instead he will hold a campaign rally. Secondly, interest in the meeting between Mr. Pence and Mrs. Harris has increased due to the age of the two main actors, 74-year-old Donald trump and 77-year-old Joe Biden: in the United States, it is increasingly loudly said that, for natural reasons, the state may well be headed by either 61-year-old Mike Pence or 55-year-old Kamala Harris.

Meanwhile, there was no sensation during the debate: both participants, separated from each other by two plexiglass shields, stuck to the party line, praised their superiors and avoided answering awkward questions.

We started with the coronavirus: moderator Susan page asked Mike Pence how it turned out that the number of deaths from COVID-19 per capita in the United States was higher on the list than almost all other rich countries on the planet. In response, Mr. Pence launched into arguments about the validity of Donald trump’s policies. “President Donald trump has always put the health of Americans first. When there were not even five cases of infection in the United States coming from China, President Donald trump did what no American President has ever done, which is to close communication with China, the world’s second largest economy. Senator Joe Biden opposed this decision, called it “hysterical and xenophobic”,” Mr. Pence replied, emphasizing that this decision allowed the United States to buy time and save hundreds of thousands of American lives.

Mrs. Harris evaded the answers with no less grace. When Mike Pence asked her directly whether the hypothetical democratic administration is going to increase the number of Supreme court justices and send their ideological supporters there, she recalled the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln and his decision not to appoint a new judge to the vacant seat shortly before the election: this is what Donald trump is now trying to pull off, less than a month before the election, planning to appoint conservative Amy Coney Barrett to the country’s highest judicial body.

When Mr. Pence repeated the question, Ms. Harris again chose to talk about Donald trump, noting that of the 50 judges appointed by the President to the courts of appeals (for life), not one was black.

Both candidates also did not answer the question about a peaceful change of power and the procedure for action in the event of Donald trump’s refusal to admit defeat.

In fact, the issue of relations with China was also skipped: both politicians discussed vaccines, and only Ms. Harris accused Donald trump of losing the trade war with China. “Lost the trade war? Joe Biden didn’t show up at all, having been the main cheerleader of Communist China for the past decades», the current Vice President snapped back. There was not much more room for China: Mike Pence only promised that the current administration would “continue to fight back”.

The coronavirus vaccine debate provided one of the few memorable quotes from the debate. “If experts in the field of health, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors will tell us that it (the vaccination.— “B”) you need to do it, I will do it first. No doubt. But if Donald trump says to do it, I won’t,” MS Harris said. Mike Pence responded by harshly criticizing his opponent for undermining public confidence in the vaccine:

The fact that you are undermining the credibility of the vaccine if it appears during the trump administration is unconscionable. Senator, please stop playing politics with people’s lives

Politicians and other topics were discussed, but their positions did not go beyond the party platforms. Mike Pence, for example, acknowledged that the climate is changing, but doubted that human activity is to blame. Predictably, they also differed on the issue of abortion: Mike Pence promised to protect the lives of unborn children, and Kamala Harris — women’s rights to abortion.

As for Russia and President Vladimir Putin, they were mentioned only twice: in connection with the case of “awards for the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan” and election interference. Kamala Harris promised that the Biden — Harris administration will successfully confront Russia. From the mouth of Mike Pence nor one nor the other topic did not sound at all.

The fact that there was almost nothing to find fault with in Mr. Pence’s speech made Democrats get creative. They made one of the main characters of this event a fly that sat on the head of Mike Pence for about two minutes and was clearly visible on the air against the background of his gray hair. The fly even had its own Twitter account, in which it “promised” to be tested for coronavirus and urged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden.

As for the assessment of the candidates ‘ performances, a survey conducted by professional sociologists commissioned by CNN, that is, not among the TV channel’s viewers, but with strict rules among registered voters, showed that Americans gave the victory to Kamala Harris with a result of 59% against 38%.

Us Vice presidential candidate debates don’t usually attract too much attention from the American public: when it comes to choosing the first person in the state, candidates for second roles do not look so significant.

The 32nd Vice President of the United States, John garner, who worked under President Franklin Roosevelt and had almost no influence on politics, once uttered a phrase that became popular in relation to this post: “the Vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm urine.”

However, the role of the Vice President has increased in recent years. As told in a conversation with “Kommersant” Professor Emeritus of law at the University of St. Louis (Missouri) Joel Goldstein, until the second half of the twentieth century, the Vice President served more as President of the Senate than as an Executive, and Vice presidents rarely became candidates for the first post after their terms were completed. Everything changed with Vice President Richard Nixon: he first worked closely with President Dwight Eisenhower, and then became head of state himself.

The final breakdown of the old system occurred under Vice President Walter Mondale: he attended major meetings of President Jimmy Carter and became one of the most influential people in the country. “Mondale began a period of unprecedented access for Vice presidents to the President. They could attend meetings with them, meet with them personally on a weekly or even daily basis, read notes and memoranda provided to the head of state, and receive all kinds of support from the first person,” Mr. Goldstein concluded. He stated that the role of the Vice President has changed over the years: previously, the main goal was to replace the President if he was unable to perform his duties, but today the task of the Vice President is to make the President’s work more effective.

Alexey Naumov