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AP Photo by Morry Gash / Vice President Mike Pence takes notes as Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., answers a question during the vice presidential debate Wednesday at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

In the scheme of things, the vice presidential debate wasn't much more than a ripple.

Yes, it's true; not much qualifies as more than a ripple these days.

"Boring" was the word used by many dismissive pundits about the debate.

Good. Given Trump's use of all the supplemental oxygen on the planet — with and without his own COVID-19 requirements — we need more boring.

In defense of both Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, however, how does any talking point or headline compete with the contagion we've known since 2016 — the dangerous and deadly Trump crud?

Donald Trump since February downplayed COVID-19. In the early hours of Oct. 2 he is said to have tested positive for COVID-19, but it seems based on the timeline of his illness and that of others in his circle that he may have had the virus days before. The fact that neither he nor his doctors will disclose the date when he last tested negative bolsters that conclusion.

The president was hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center and received the Mercedes, Porsche, Cadillac and Lincoln treatment for the dangerous novel coronavirus. Four days later, he returned to the White House, ripped off his mask as he stood on the balcony and pretended to be a vanquishing king.

This same president, with wildly contradicting rhetoric that sabotages COVID economic aid, still continues to downplay the coronavirus. Never mind the more than 212,000 Americans who — with considerably less than the extra-special treatment Trump reportedly received — died from the new and still largely unknown illness.

But the point of Tuesday's debate was seemingly lost on too many reviewers. What if Kamala Harris or Mike Pence suddenly became our president?

READ MORE: Pandemic looms over a more civil fight and more takeaways from the VP debate

That's the idea of declaring presidential tickets with vice presidential candidates' names, after all.

Each is running to be our substitute, jump-in, stand-up, step-leader. In Harris' and Pence's case, that would be when their 77-year-old and 74-year-old, respectively, running mates are done or gone.

By our review, Pence was weak. And Harris went easy on him.

She didn't even try to turn on her prosecutor and questioning senator voice — the one she used with Bill Barr and Brett Kavanaugh.

In short, she wasn't the skilled interrogator with penetrating questions that left her target's guilt laid bare that we saw in Congressional hearings.

Harris held back. And it was brilliant. Pence's contempt for her, for both of the women on the stage, and frankly for all Americans except the one he gazes at worshipfully in the Oval Office, remained on display.

Harris was vice presidential. She was the leader-in-waiting that we need.

We're glad. Republicans, naturally, are sad.

They needed to be able to say otherwise. But even the earliest post-debate headlines made it clear:

* "Pence defended Trump better than Trump did."

* The fly won."

* "Should Pence have self-quarantined rather than debate Kamala Harris?"

Pundits' opinions (these included) are like — well, you know — all of us have one.

The truth is, both vice presidential candidates did what they were supposed to do.

Harris kept the the focus on Joe Biden's pluses and Donald Trump's abject failures.

Pence kept the focus on Donald Trump's (and the GOP's) facades — even some that have repeatedly been debunked.

The debate was boring, but still telling.

And honestly, America, are we not tired of losing yet?

READ MORE: AP fact check of the vice presidential debate

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