How do we know Kamala Harris won the vice presidential debate? We know because the next morning, Donald Trump called into Fox Business’ Money Honey Maria Bartiromo and called Harris “this monster.” Trump’s rage made it clear that he was profoundly triggered by the shellacking she gave his shellack-haired lackey.
In the interview, which edged us closer to the 25th Amendment territory that is beginning to seem all-but-inevitable, Trump also called Harris a “communist” and said, “This monster that was on stage with Mike Pence, who destroyed her last night by the way, this monster, she says, ‘No, no, there won’t be fracking, there won’t be this.’ Everything she said was a lie!”
Of course he did. She’s a strong woman, which this weak man can’t stand.
It’s been a long four years for the American woman. On November 8, 2016, we thought we were making history, but instead, we were embarking on a handmaid’s tale of dystopian dysfunction that began with Hillary’s devastating loss to Donald Trump and has more recently been punctuated by a pandemic and also the death of our beloved RBG.
If only that had been the worst part. But the Trumpian misogyny permeated everything. Nothing stings more than watching a guy with more than two dozen allegations of sexual assault install a bench of 176 semi-incompetent (and incompetent) judges. And then there was the performative fake feminism of the president’s smooth blond clueless daughter and the president’s sons’ wives and girlfriends. All of whom we were told were breaking glass ceilings in the form of being trotted out for photo opps. In short, we women have had to eat a misogynistic shit sandwich in the form of the Trump administration.
But on the four-year anniversary of the Access Hollywood tapes, Kamala Harris began to change the narrative. And it was as much by what she didn’t say as what she did. Sure, she got some good lines in between interruptions and head shakes from the little, smarmy sycophant. Speaking of which, during the debate, Merriam-Webster noted that “searches for 'smarmy' were up 5000%.” Kamala was masterful at letting Pence impale himself on his own smarminess.
Harris had a few really great moments. One was evoking Lincoln while talking about Trump trying to slam ACB into RBG’s seat: “Abraham Lincoln was up for reelection, and it was 27 days before the election and a seat became open on the United States Supreme Court. But Honest Abe said, it's not the right thing to do. The American people deserve to make the decision.” Lincoln is from another planet than Trump’s Republican Party.
But Pence lost the debate on his own, without any help from Harris. One thing that became abundantly clear last night was that Mike Pence doesn’t have a lot of respect for women and women noticed, they said that Kamala won the debate 69 percent to 30 percent. Pence’s interactions with the moderator Susan Page were patronizing and dismissive. He treated her like a houseplant as he continued to interrupt her and ignore her questions.
And Pence gave Kamala her biggest win of the night by continuously interrupting her. There was something about a mediocre white guy who got his job by sucking up to an even more mediocre white guy continuously interrupting a Black woman that was just enraging. Pence interrupted Harris by CBS’s count ten times. A smiling and calm Harris was masterful with her polite yet firm responses:
“Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.”
“He interrupted me, and I’d like to just finish, please.”
“If you don’t mind letting me finish, we can have a conversation.”
It was in those interruptions that we women were able to see in stark relief that it doesn’t have to be that way—that we can have a vice president who gets her job due to her competence. Watching Kamala’s competence reminded me that a functioning federal government is on the ticket in November. Remember, Pence got his job because he appealed to Trump’s vanity whereas Kamala is just the best person for the job.
But perhaps Anderson Cooper summed it up best when he said Harris "had a smile on her face and he had a bloody eye and a fly on his head." And Pence did have a fly on his head for two minutes. The fly liked Mike Pence more than the people did. A CNN poll showed that Kamala’s favorability went from 56 percent to 63 percent and Mike Pence’s stayed the same at 41 percent, though a lot more people now know what the word smarmy means, so that’s a win.