While Trump has favored isolationist rhetoric, both running mates sounded distinctly neocon themes in the context of the Middle East. Lee Fang noted that “Mike Pence broke in a big way with the top of his ticket on foreign policy during the debate, declaring that his administration would be prepared to ‘strike military targets of the Assad regime.'” Zaid Jilani pointed out that Pence and Kaine “surprisingly agreed on establishing ‘safe zones’ in Syria for beleaguered civilians,” while both also “failed to mention the troop commitments such zones would take to defend.”Pence probably "won" the debate in the useless, perverted sense that we tend to score such things. He needled Kaine's dorky, practiced one liners. He lied freely and assuredly while Kaine failed to seriously challenge him. He even got to ramble on for an extended period about how his faith informs his extremely disturbing anti-abortion rights position without facing a rebuttal from the compromised and ineffectual Kaine.
Kaine and Pence also agreed on some domestic issues. Alice Speri wrote about how they both enthusiastically support community policing because “It sounds great. It means basically nothing.”
We noted that, in a debate that barely focused on the two vice presidential candidates themselves at all, Kaine ended up somehow straddling some wide moral chasms: He repeatedly noted his missionary work in Honduras, while ducking Hillary Clinton’s warm relations with military coup leaders there and their U.S. enablers; he spoke about carrying out executions even though it violated his personal convictions.
Not that any of this matters. Most people didn't watch. And the thing most people who did even remember about it is a jokey hashtag. America's two dads can now be safely returned to their storage containers. Only a month of this depressing election to go. Hang in there.