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"Mr. Vice President, I'm Speaking" - Kamala's Deliberate Fight Against Silencing Women

Kamala Harris’ courtroom skills prevailed, Mike Pence’s bloodshot eye astounded, and a fly stole the show Wednesday night during the first and only vice presidential debate of 2020.

Following one of the most extraordinarily turbulent weeks in the history of U.S. politics and the presidency, the California senator and sitting vice president met at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and tried to achieve the impossible in Trumpian times: discussing policy in a civil manner.

Seated 12 feet apart, separated by two Plexiglass shields and markedly different worldviews, the diametrically opposed candidates answered questions posed by moderator and Washington bureau chief for USA Today, Susan Page.

“We want a debate that is lively, but Americans also deserve a discussion that is civil and about the big issues facing our nation,” said Page at the top of the broadcast, though she likely planned for much worse given the catastrophe that was last week’s presidential debate.

What she got instead was the most normal political function we’ve seen since disrupting custom and flouting the constitution became the norm at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In the time-honored Washington tradition of male candidates treating their female opponents like subordinates, and men dismissing women in boardrooms and office cubicles across the country, Pence continually interrupted Harris, stepping on her time and steamrolling through Page in the process.

But Harris was having none of that.

“Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking,” Harris said repeatedly, stopping him in his tracks when Page’s ineffectual thank yous to Pence could not do the job. At one point, Harris explicitly demanded that she be given equal time after yet another of Pence’s successful attempts to filibuster past the two-minute time limit.

Pence’s tone was calm and reasonable in comparison to his boss’s bullhorn offensive last week, but Harris still had to walk the same impossible line Hillary Clinton did in 2016 when she ran against Trump.

California’s former attorney general had to out-maneuver Pence and contend with a double standard often used against women who run for office: Don’t be too aggressive, but don’t appear weak. Act strong, but not so strong that you threaten male voters. Eviscerate him, but don’t be a bitch. And whatever happens, don’t forget to smile!

Harris, the first Black woman and South Asian to be nominated on a major party ticket, sailed through the debate with aplomb. A skilled cross-examiner, she nailed Pence — the head of the administration’s pandemic task force — on the White House’s appalling COVID-19 response, threw Trump’s $750 tax payment in the vice president’s lap, asked why the president has refused to condemn white supremacy, and flatly refused to partake in Pence’s flat-earth notion that climate change isn’t a real threat.

“You’re entitled to your own opinion, you’re not entitled to your own facts,” Pence said repeatedly to Harris, plagiarizing the line from former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan to deflect the Trump administration’s own slippery relationship with the facts.

No matter how many times he “politely” talked over her, patronized, offered prayers instead of factual policy or allowed a fly (not Harris) uninterrupted time on stage, Pence still left the debate as an embattled member of an imploding administration. Harris left the victor.

Source: LA Times


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