I feel like Republicans get together in dark, secret back rooms, stare nervously at a mirror on the wall, and giggle as they dare each other to say “Hillary Clinton” three times.

Watched the first hour of the VP debate (which means I turned it off before the fly landed, which I’m a little disappointed about).

On the whole, I thought Harris did well. She had actual answers for the questions, presented them solidly (even when they were answers I didn’t like, such as the repeated emphasis that Biden won’t ban fracking, at least she had them and didn’t prevaricate, dissemble, or flat-out lie), and came across as extremely competent and knowledgeable. All, of course, while constantly having to negotiate the minefield of being a woman of color, who is at all times a fraction of a hair’s width from being perceived as hysterical, or a bitch, or a “shrieking harpy”, or an “angry Black woman”, or any of the many other standards women are subjected to if they deign to exhibit behavior that is lauded in men.

Pence, on the other hand, rather surprised me in how badly he came across. I’m not sure if he ever actually answered a single question: frequently he didn’t even try to obfuscate it or do a quick pivot, but simply ignored what he’d been asked and talked about whatever he wanted to. What content there was in what he said will be celebrated by those who are in the bag for Trump/Pence, but if there were people watching who are still undecided (a concept which I honestly find rather mind boggling), they just might have noticed (hopefully, though I’m probably being overly optimistic) how empty and often outright laughably false his statements were. And then there was his constant tactic of steamrolling over both Harris and the moderator, entirely ignoring time limits. It was more controlled than Trump’s interrupting and outbursts, but no less rude, and quite likely (again, hopefully) even more of a turn-off to any women who have had years of men ignoring them and speaking over them. Given how poorly Trump’s bluster played in the first debate, I’m a little surprised that Pence took this approach tonight. They’re both playing to their base, but it doesn’t seem like a good strategy for picking up (or reclaiming) anyone outside of their base.

The moderator, unfortunately, was almost entirely ineffectual. Any future debates should be moderated not by journalists, but by a fourth grade teacher with a good decade of experience in the classroom, armed with a kill switch for the microphones (and/or a Super Soaker).