SAN DIEGO — Kamala Harris got my wife's vote.
My better 7/8th would never vote for the ticket of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. But nor was she excited about supporting the ticket of Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Harris, D-Calif. She might just have stayed home.
No longer. Harris won over my wife during the vice presidential debate, when —- after one of the many times that Pence interrupted Harris — the senator turned to the second-in-command and calmly uttered five words: "Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking."
Harris said those words — or some variation — at least five times during the debate. She said them with respect, not in anger. She never lost her cool. She sounded like a schoolteacher setting boundaries for a rambunctious child.
For my wife, those moments were wonderfully empowering, and among the most important ever spoken in a vice-presidential matchup.
I chuckled when Harris put Pence in his place and tried to teach him some manners for disrespectfully interrupting her. But, as a man, I didn't get the full significance of what was happening.
My wife got it. And, I would later learn, so did my sister. Neither one lets me talk over them, but they say other men have taken the liberty. It can happen at work, a social event or a doctor's office.
Now that I think about it, in the 10 years that I worked on editorial boards, I saw plenty of men talk over women. I'm ashamed to say that I probably did it myself on occasion.
Of course, men also try to talk over other men. But those exchanges have a different rhythm. When men talk over men, it's a disagreement. When men talk over women, it's often dismissive.
My sister is a director in human resources, and she once had it happen to her when she trying to offer a White male a job.
Ah yes, White males. The game always seems to be rigged in their favor, no matter what game we're playing.
For instance, in my industry of media and journalism, the most respected and sought-after pundits are usually White males, or so we're told by other White males.
We have experience with White privilege. We should know about male privilege. But it's a combination — White male privilege — that's the most potent concoction of all.
During the vice-presidential debate, Pence reeked of it. He didn't just interrupt, speak over, and talk down to Harris. He pulled the same stunts with moderator Susan Page of USA Today.
From the start, it was clear from his words, tone and body language that Pence was running the show — or thought he was.
Harris wasn't innocent. She smirked, made snide comments and went over her allotted time. But at least she refrained from directly challenging Page or trying to take over the debate.
By contrast, the vice president's boorish behavior was unrelenting. His voice sounded like a mixture of fear and frustration, as if Pence was afraid to let Harris or Page finish their sentences or complete their thoughts. Or maybe he just thought that what he was about to say was more important than whatever the women had to offer. Either way, a gentleman he was not.
Whatever it was, Pence's debate performance made him intensely unlikeable. This was not someone you'd want to invite over to the house for dinner, let alone like to see pop up on your television every evening were he to become president one day. You would think that someone who spent most of his life in politics would have more social skills and know-how to communicate better.
On a personal note, my wife is especially glad that my two young daughters, ages 15 and 11, witnessed the exchange. She hopes the sight of a woman (even better, a woman of color) standing up to a man (even better, a white male) who acted like he was entitled to the spotlight inspires them to stand up for themselves in life.
I hope so, too. I realize that my girls are going to have to put up with a lot of garbage that my son won't have to mess with. The list shouldn't include this form of disrespect from men.
Someone needs to say: "Enough!"
Harris did. Good for her. She was speaking.
And while her opponent didn't need to agree with what she was saying, common courtesy dictated that he pipe down and show everyone that he was listening.
Ruben Navarrette can be reached at email@example.com.