Thursday, October 06, 2016

October 6, 2016--Disputatio Interruptus

There must have been some method to Tim Kaine's madness the other night during the vice-presidential debate.

From almost the first minute, like someone with neurological issues, Kaine compulsively interrupted his opponent, Mike Pence. As a result, even most Democrats agreed, in spite of his reactionary views, the colorless Indiana governor carried the night.

One is left then to speculate whether Donald Trump will benefit. Since he could claim to have picked the better running mate will he be able to extrapolate this to successfully assert that, if elected, he will pick better qualified cabinet officers?

This assumes anyone was watching.

We attempted to.

Fortified with freshly brewed tea and homemade coconut macaroons, Rona and I were all set to watch for the entire 90 minutes. But because of Kaine's disputatio interruptus, after 20 minutes, we retired to the bedroom to curl up with our books. Me to Burton Hersh's devastating Bobby and J. Edgar, Rona to a galleys copy of our friend Reggie Nadelson's new book about Balthazar, the New York hotspot cafe and bistro.

Overnight, knowing how highly Virginia friends regard former governor and current senator Tim Kaine, I wondered what motivated him to interrupt literally 70 times. About every 30 seconds when Pence was attempting to talk.

The 70-interruption statistic is not made up but comes from The Hill, which is clearly obsessed with arcane matters.

Further, Neilsen's track of viewer attention found a trajectory similar to ours--minute-by-minute people drifted away from the debate until perhaps half as many who began were watching. Or, perhaps equally likely, sleeping with the TV still on.

"I think that what we did," Rona suggested, "was exactly what the Clinton-Kaine political operatives were hoping. That we'd give up on the debate and either troll around looking for something else to watch or switch the TV off altogether."

"Go on."

"With an increasing lead in the polls as Trump flounders in greater and greater absurdity, with a month to go, they want to sit on the lead. One way to do that is to get people literally to tune out and vote early."

"If true," I said, "and I think yours is a good point, it will be interesting to see what Hillary's strategy is on Sunday when she and Trump debate again."

"So if you're Hillary keeping it boring is the new agenda."

"If so, Kaine had a really good night. He put 20 million American's to sleep.

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