But Harris is a comparative novice — one who dropped out of the Democratic primaries this cycle long before the first votes were cast, and who delivered a pedestrian speech at the Democratic National Convention this summer. It was possible that she would make some sort of misjudgment on the debate stage that would raise a new set of doubts in voters’ minds about the decision to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket in less than a month.

But it didn’t happen. She did fine. Not great, but easily passable. Competent. She’ll win no awards for quick thinking on her feet, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who find her tendencies to lapse into biographical bromides at odd moments and to launch into tedious lists of policy priorities a little irritating. But those are common enough ticks of professional politicians.

And in the end, that’s Harris’ greatest weakness: She hasn’t mastered the craft of faking sincerity, which means that she often sounds like she’s trying very hard to do the work that the most gifted politicians do with an air of effortlessness. That translates into a vibe of inauthenticity, which will annoy and antagonize anyone who inclines toward a dislike of politicians.