Joe is Taking a Big Risk

Aug. 17, 2020

The Briefing, Vol. VIII, Issue 32 – This week:

  • Kamala the cop was Biden’s worst choice
  • Picked up off the ash-heap of the primaries
  • She has access to California money, but her main role will be to excite Trump’s base

President 2020

Kamala Harris: Out of all the choices Joe Biden had, Kamala Harris might have been the worst.

As a former prosecutor who fought to keep innocent people in prison, and who boasted about arresting parents for their children’s truancy from school, she has never been the ideal candidate for a left-of-center left party seeking to defund police. So in spite of all the biased media plaudits for her, it is likely that most American voters who follow the issues are somewhat perplexed by it.

Harris’ hypocrisy in the drug war — she laughed in a podcast interview about smoking weed around the same time she would have been putting drug users into cages in her role as a prosecutor — Harris is definitely not the choice of woke America.

Yet at the same time, if she is a social justice failure, Harris is a left-wing culture warrior. Her commitment to planned Parenthood was such that she coordinated with its officials to prosecute pro-life journalists who exposed their operations. She wants to issue an executive order banning certain gun sales.

Repackaging a losing brand: Biden’s choice is all the more baffling because Harris proved such an utter failure during her presidential campaign, Yes, she had her momentary rise after she attacked Biden as a racist. But it took Tulsi Gabbard only 30 seconds on the debate stage to cut Harris to pieces and send her campaign into its death spiral.

Of course, Gabbard’s oration was just the last straw. One of the reasons Harris lost so much support was that she couldn’t take a definitive stance on any of the issues that Democrats cared about. Medicare for all, to name just one example, was a complete black box to her. She backed the version that Bernie Sanders had originally proposed, yet on the campaign trail she distanced herself from that and supported something involving private companies that was completely incompatible with the Sanders plan. Note that this might seem obscure or unimportant to the average voter, but to the average democratic primary voter, it’s a very big deal. It evinces a lawmaker with little experience legislating, who was not particularly knowledgeable on issues but willing to say she was in favor of anything that seemed popular at the time.

Harris also endorsed and co-sponsored the Green New Deal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s embarrassing $90 trillion package of democratic pork purportedly intended to support green energy. 

It is really quite weird that a prosecutor who quite literally defended misconduct by her subordinates and tried to have courts uphold false convictions should end up becoming the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the woke times of 2020. Yet here we are.

The default choice: Biden’s other top choices had flaws as well, although probably not as significant as Harris’s. Elizabeth Warren was not going to be a serious contender because she was white, but also because her masquerading as an Indian was simply too much for most normal people to bear in a year when racial awareness is supposed to be such an important thing.

Susan Rice might have been a relatively safe pick, if only because Americans are famously unconcerned with foreign affairs. Sure, she lied about Benghazi, but does anyone even remember that? Would anyone really be so passionate about foreign affairs as to care? 

But because Rice was not really a politician either, the choice of her would have had a different sort of significance that Biden surely wanted to avoid. To pick someone like Rice is to make an ideological statement about foreign policy. This may have deterred Biden, who might have wanted the freedom to pursue a different policy from the sort that Rice would favor. After all, Biden has already praised President Trump’s deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. This is not a position that is really consistent with the Susan Rice-slash-Barack Obama outlook on the Middle East, in which the United States is supposed to be kowtowing to Iran at the expense of everyone else in the region.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, aside from being far too white, is also a lightning rod right now. Her unwise executive policy of forcing coronavirus patients into nursing homes caused many to die — now she has vetoed a bill from the legislature forbidding the practice.

And so by default, it ends up being Harris, Even though she pretty much labeled Biden a racist during the presidential primary debates. As we noted last week, Biden had already all but bowed to pressure to pick a black female running mate. As we noted last week, this meant that people would view whomever he chose not as the best or most competent choice but as the best black female choice. You could say that this is the tragedy of affirmative action in a dramatic, concrete, real life example. 

So the soft bigotry of low expectations has forced Kamala Harris onto the Democratic Party — and perhaps onto the country. After all, Biden’s vice presidential choice has a significance that such choices typically do not have, simply because he is unlikely to survive to the end of the second term. 

Harris does bring with her some advantages. Her access to wealthy California donors is obviously a plus, and it has already helped Biden’s campaign with fundraising. She is abundantly socially liberal and satisfies the old-fashioned liberals whose chief concern is abortion. But for those on the Left genuinely interested in police reform and in what is commonly termed to be social justice, this is definitely not the pick that’s going to get people excited. 

Reaction: On the other side, the choice of Harris will surely get Trump supporters excited or at least scared in a way that those other, lower-profile figures would not have. It will get conservatives  and pro-lifers and gun owners and churchgoers excited to vote. It may lead many people to vote for Trump who never would have otherwise. 

This makes Harris seem like a very unnecessarily risky choice for Biden, who could have chosen a relative no-name such as Rep. Val Demmings or Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms and coasted through much more easily. He might have just thrown Trump the life-line he needs.

Senate 2020

Massachusetts: It doesn’t really touch on the big battle for Senate control, but the primary between Rep. Joseph Kennedy and Sen. Ed Markey is pitting left-wing Democrats against a continuation of the Kennedy legacy in the form of the young congressman. But aside from the Kennedy legacy, the young congressman has failed to articulate a vision. 

At the moment, as one might expect in the Democratic Party of this era, the Left is leading. Markey is favored to win this race and leads by double-digits in last week’s UMass-Amherst poll. The votes come in on Sept. 1.