The Morning Brief – 10.08.20

By Bruce Carson


The Vice Presidential Debate – Style and Substance – Was there a Winner?

Giving Thanks during the Time of COVID-19

The Vice Presidential Debate

Hopefully before the next presidential debate, the Commission on Debates will mandate that the moderator have the ability to shut off the microphone of a candidate who does not abide by the time allotted for debate or for answers to questions. As much as last night was more civilized than the presidential debate last week, Vice President Pence time and again went over his allotted time and admonitions from the moderator were ignored.

In sports, very often statistics are gathered to show the amount of time a team spends in the other’s end and while in sports it may be indicative of the balance in the play, in debates, if one candidate is allowed to ignore the rules with impunity, that candidate gains a large advantage.

Surely now that this has occurred two weeks in a row, the Commission should feel compelled to act, at least out of a sense of fairness.

Last evening as opposed to the Biden-Trump encounter actually came as close to being a debate as we are going to see in this election. There are two presidential debates left, one is a town hall format and the last will have the same format as the first debate and unless there are substantial rule changes, including the authority of the moderator, the last one will look very much like the first one.

Looking back on last evening, there was an exchange of views between the candidates and for the most part it took place in a civil manner. Pence has learned a lot since the 2016 debate and that includes the ability to slide a zinger into the mix and move on before there is time to respond. He also seems to know that if he uses one debate segment to respond to issues raised in the previous segment, he is not going to be stopped by the moderator.

For example after the first segment on COVID-19 and at the beginning of the next segment on the role of the vice president, Pence took most of his time admonishing Senator Harris concerning the pending vaccine saying her and Biden’s criticism of its development has undermined public confidence in a possible vaccine. He actually had the temerity to suggest that they were playing politics with people’s lives. This said when all that the Trump administration has done since January is play politics with people’s lives.

It is quite possible that both candidates accomplished what they set out to do. For Pence the goal must have been to attempt to explain Trump’s policies and actions so at least the base understands them and can support them. His other goal would have been to put the campaign back on the rails. If he didn’t get it back on the rails, he at least got it close enough for a safe restart. If he wanted to portray Harris as a socialist, that probably didn’t happen.

Harris’s goal as representing the team in the lead would be to do no harm and come across as knowing the issues and able to explain the Democratic Party’s position on them. She accomplished that goal. She may have believed she needed to ensure that Pence was tied closely to Trump, but Pence did that for her, displaying loyalty in abundance to the president and all of his actions.

If there are still undecided voters in the United States, they now have a better idea of what both parties are offering. Pence would have at least shored up most of Trump’s base which may have been contemplating staying home.

Harris in the economic segment and the one dealing with racial discrimination may have solidified the Democratic Party’s appeal to suburban women. She argued with Pence over his accusation that Biden would raise taxes on Day 1, and that Biden was China’s best friend. Harris talked about Biden’s concern for the working class while she portrayed Trump as only caring about rich people.

She nimbly moved the discussion about the public’s right to know about a president’s health issues to a discussion of the public’s right to know about taxes paid by Trump.

On climate change, Pence attempted to tie Biden to tax hikes needed to pay for his policies and that Biden would stop fracking and “crush U.S. jobs and the economy.” Pence defended withdrawing from the Paris Accord while Biden would have the U.S. rejoin. It is on climate change where Biden’s policies are closest to those of Prime Minister Trudeau.

There were matters that remained unaddressed at the end of the debate. Harris was asked a number of times by Pence as to whether the Democrats plan to pack the Supreme Court. The answer was that first there will be an election and the person who becomes president should name the court nominee. Harris referred back to Lincoln who followed that practice.

There was no commitment from Pence on the peaceful transfer of power. The only response was that the Republicans were going to win.

Early in the New Year the Supreme Court is to deal with Obamacare and if it is set aside the question is what happens to those with pre-existing conditions. Harris pressed Pence on this as others have pressed Trump, but the answer is that these people will be looked after, but as pointed out, Trump has no plan to address this matter. Concern was also raised by the moderator and Harris about abortion and the Court. Pence didn’t answer whether he would want his state to ban abortions.

If last night was a test to see if Harris could one day take over as President from Biden, she cleared that bar as she came across for the most part as calm and presidential. And Pence last evening accomplished the task set for him, he got the campaign back on track, but for how long, only President Trump knows for sure.

Giving Thanks during the time of COVID-19

Last spring, April 2, as Easter approached and our world was shutting down and events cancelled to enable us to better fight COVID-19, The Morning Brief published a list of matters that COVID-19 could not close or cancel. That list has been added to by readers and bears repeating as we approach this Thanksgiving weekend.

Here is a partial list from April with some additions.

  • Covid-19 has not cancelled love,
  • It has not cancelled mercy,
  • It has not cancelled prayer,
  • It has not cancelled loving relationships,
  • It has not cancelled kindness,
  • It has not cancelled music,
  • It has not cancelled conversation,
  • It has not cancelled learning,
  • It has not cancelled poetry,
  • It has not cancelled courage,
  • It has not cancelled leadership,
  • It has not cancelled meditation and contemplation,
  • It has not cancelled parenting,
  • It has not cancelled dancing,
  • It has not cancelled families,
  • It has not cancelled community,
  • It has not cancelled faith,
  • It has not cancelled civility,
  • It has not cancelled public service,
  • It has not cancelled hope,
  • It has not cancelled loyalty,
  • It has not cancelled grace.

As Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer said going into this weekend, be large in thanks and gratitude but with gatherings small in size. “We are stronger together, by staying apart.”

And as she always says at the conclusion of her daily reports “remember to be kind with each other, to be calm and to be safe.”

To Come

  • Report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer entitled “carbon pricing for the Paris targets: closing the gap with output based pricing”
  • Speech by Tiff Macklem, Governor of the Bank of Canada to the Global Risk Institute
October 9
  • Job numbers for September to be released
October 15
  • Presidential debate
October 16
  • Monthly survey of manufacturing for August to be released

The Morning Brief returns on Wednesday, October 14.

– BC