Livetweet thread: American politics pauses for conversation between decent, reasonably well-adjusted people

Alternate headline: “One night only: America sobers up.” Here’s your chance to watch a debate between a Republican who can speak intelligibly about policy for more than four seconds at a time and a Democrat who doesn’t obviously belong in prison. Enjoy it, because we’ll be back to our national political glue-sniffing by 11 p.m. ET.

The debate starts at nine and will be carried on all of the cable news networks. There are only two sure things about it. One: Absolutely nothing will happen to change the election in any way. Unless one candidate pulls a knife on the other, this is a pure exhibition game. Two: Fans of the candidate who’s trailing will insist afterward, contrary to all historical evidence, that something did happen to improve their guy’s chances. In this case, it’ll probably take the form of Trumpers claiming that Pence “calmed doubts about Trump” or “righted the ship” or something along those lines in anticipation of Sunday. The irony of the debate is that Pence and Kaine are both conspicuously “nice guys” by political standards, yet both will be tasked with leveling the other side’s presidential nominee. Pence in particular famously shies away from personal attacks in campaigning, but Kaine’s going to attack Trump’s character repeatedly. Pence will be under pressure to respond in kind, especially if Trump is planning to raise Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones at the Sunday debate. Pence bringing them up tonight would be a way to prime the pump. Is he prepared to do that?

Here’s your Twitter window for reaction in real time from the Hot Air and Townhall editorial staffs. While we wait for it to begin, prepare for the debate by taking this quiz from WaPo. It’ll give you a proper perspective on how “much” is at stake tonight.