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Kamala Harris Makes Big Impression On Twitter With Debate Facial Expressions

Ever since John F. Kennedy appeared so charismatic during America's first televised presidential debate in 1960, the public has put as much effort into examining how candidates carry themselves as they do in weighing their respective platforms.

And while this is especially true in heated debates like the one between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden last week, it's just as much a fact of political life in reasonably civil debates like the one between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence.

Although it didn't occur anywhere near as much as during this year's first debate, it seemed that Vice President Pence wasn't entirely immune to the president's habit of interrupting his opponent during their responses to the moderator's questions.

However, viewers also noticed that Harris had her own way of making her position known while Pence spoke.

Although Harris largely refrained from interrupting Pence, it wasn't difficult to tell when he made a statement that she disagreed with.

She communicated this through a range of facial expressions that this Twitter user shows a sample of.

As we can see, the level of doubt Harris had in Pence's statements could be determined by whether she gave him a squinting smile or a side eye.

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When she found a statement particularly egregious, she would instead turn toward the audience.

In such moments, she seemed to silently ask, "are you seeing this?" much like Jim Halpert from The Office or the "get a load of this guy cam" moment from Wayne's World.

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In other moments, some users seemed to recognize similar body language they've seen their family members exhibit.

For instance, one user referred to this hand clasp as the "patience" hands, saying, "My mom did that [...] when I was bs'ing a response to her question that she already knew the answer to."

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For many users, Harris' expressions came off as amusing and relatable.

After all, can any of us say we haven't been in a situation where we've tried to stay polite while someone says stuff that doesn't jibe with our fundamental perception of reality?

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One user was also pretty confident that they'd be able to beat Harris at poker.

Granted, it's possible that her tells wouldn't be quite as clear if she knew she had to maintain a neutral expression.

Still, we would know what to look for if we were playing with her.

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However, it was soon clear that not everyone on Twitter found her expressions so endearing.

For Megyn Kelly and other conservative voices, Harris came off as smug, condescending, unprofessional, and even petulant.

These users noticed that Pence's face seemed to stay more or less the same throughout the debate and apparently preferred that.

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But as The Daily Show's official Twitter account noted, there was a pretty notable omission behind these criticisms.

Namely, that President Donald Trump's face is arguably even more expressive when he's engaged in debates and hears something he doesn't agree with.

For some users, criticism of Harris' expression spoke to a sexist double standard where women in politics are expected to walk a more difficult temperamental tightrope than male candidates are.

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From another user's perspective, the facial expression criticism appeared hypocritical for a different reason.

It seems this person has observed that for some people, Black women's facial expressions are only appreciated as far as they can apply to one's own sentiments as expressed through memes.

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As another user pointed out, this discussion of Harris' facial expressions also became a distraction from the issues the candidates actually discussed.

While we've established that the public's fixation on how presidential candidates present themselves is as old as the televised debate itself, there is a danger of letting such considerations overshadow issues that actually affect our lives.

Perhaps there is something to the fact that the predominant discussion on Twitter had more to do with Harris' expressions than the statements that prompted them.

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