I don’t think there’s much question—even Chris Matthews and Jake Tapper gave it to him—that Mike Pence won the vice-presidential debate Tuesday night.
I’ll go further. He beat everyone by a mile—Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump.
Pence showed us what a grown-up president might be like in 2016. All by himself he renewed our faith in American politics that has been close to obliterated by the nauseatingly corrupt and dishonest Hillary Clinton and the wildly erratic Donald Trump. (Tim Kaine was just another version of the hackus politicanus, a tedious and bombastic liar who makes you want to reach for the Nembutal jar and go bottoms up.)
Pence had the advantage of his years as a radio host—he knows what to do in front of a microphone—but I suspect it was more than that. This seems like a man who is sure of who he is and actually has values, despite being a politician. Call that a modern miracle. Also, quite obviously, Pence was prepared. He’d done his homework.
Donald Trump was tweeting away happily during the debate—and he should have been. His man was winning.
But those of us who hope Trump will win, if only to put the brakes on the astonishing corruption of the Clintons that seems to never stop and now threatens to bring us all down with it (the latest is that they were funneling TARP funds through the Clinton Foundation!), should urge Donald to do more than praise his running mate or brag about him.
Trump should study Pence and learn from him. I know it’s not Donald’s style to humble himself, not publicly anyway, but Mike Pence has a lot to teach him, if only by modeling.
If Trump can digest some of Pence’s demeanor and polish, if he does his homework the way the Indiana governor did and stays unfailingly on message and doesn’t waste time playing defense on absurdities, Donald will win the election. Even the media cannot stop him (not that they won’t try until the very last second). But if he doesn’t, he is lost. (We all are.)
Now I don’t mean to totally excoriate Donald. I admire many things he has said and support almost all of his positions. Furthermore, he has done an extraordinary thing in uniting a large portion of our population in a genuine and necessary movement. Bravo!
But he has come dangerously close to betraying that movement he claims to have founded. This is not about Donald Trump, as he says himself repeatedly, but doesn’t always seem to believe.
But indeed it isn’t about Donald Trump. It’s about a country in trouble. Donald has become the medium for its salvation and his responsibility now is to win, whatever ambivalence may be buried deeply in his psyche that propels him into shooting himself in the foot, usually at the very moment he is beginning to seem invincible.
But there is no longer time for such games. We are in the last five minutes of the last quarter of the seventh game. It’s win or go home, as they say, but not just for Donald, for the USA.
Pence has shown the way. Donald must follow.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already.