Any way you cut it, Joe Biden is in a box.
The presumptive Democratic candidate already put himself in a corner when he unwisely pledged during a March debate to choose a woman as his vice-presidential candidate.
Now, almost two months later, with the pressure on Biden to narrow his search even further to find a black woman running mate, the former vice president is looking at a field so small that the leading contender is a woman who all but branded him a racist on national television.
That would be Sen. Kamala Harris, the California Democratic bomb-thrower who’s probably best known to the general American public — aside from her unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination — as a woman who enjoys gratuitously insulting white men she disagrees with.
One of those men was Biden himself, who memorably felt the sting of Harris’ tongue on stage while she was still in the primary race.
As unpleasant as that might be, it more or less lines up with the chief qualification of Stacey Abrams, the unsuccessful candidate for governor of Georgia who has openly, and obnoxiously, campaigned to be Biden’s pick.
According to Politico, Harris is the current talk as the Biden campaign’s choice.
“Now, Harris is not only in top contention, but Biden aides, surrogates and major donors see her as the best fit at the onset of the process — at least on paper — to join him atop the Democratic ticket,” the Washington insiders’ news outlet reported Monday in an article headlined “Kamala emerges as early Biden VP favorite as sting of debate attack fades.”
“Biden’s campaign has formally started vetting a group of prospects that includes roughly a dozen women. But in interviews, more than two dozen Democrats, including advisers, allies and donors aligned with Biden, returned to Harris as an early frontrunner,” the article stated. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the favorite among progressives, was also seen as rising above the pack.”
Harris would be a choice that matches Biden’s needs.
In 2018, Harris was part of the pack of Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats who launched scorched-earth warfare against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Even before Palo Alto University psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her scurrilous accusation that Kavanaugh had attacked her when they were both teenagers (an accusation that had not even a veneer of credibility), Harris had disgraced herself with an anti-Kavanaugh social media post about a Kavanaugh statement on abortion that was so bad even the Democrat-friendly Washington Post “fact-checker” gave it four “Pinocchios” – the equivalent of calling it a flat-out lie.
About the same time, she’d tried to trip Kavanaugh up with a portentous question – a “perjury trap” really – that implied the nominee was somehow scheming to undercut the then-still-active investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Neither attack came to anything – as empty as Blasey Ford’s bizarre accusation came to be seen – but they did get Kamala Harris the spotlight she craved to launch her nomination run.
Her attack on Biden during the June 2019 Democratic presidential primary debate might seem like a century ago, but it did have a greater impact than the Kavanaugh sallies. (Possibly because there was at least a kernel of truth in the Biden Senate record Harris criticized.)
Even Americans who aren’t big supporters of President Donald Trump or the Trump administration could see right through the kind of crass opportunism Harris employs, a major reason her campaign didn’t make it to the end of 2019.
But now, the boxed-in Biden, in a bind to make good on a promise about this vice presidential candidate and just as desperate to do something to get the large, radically left wing of his party behind him before November, has his eye on Harris as a potential running mate.
Quite a few of even Politico’s usually liberal commenting chorus weren’t on board with the idea.
See, some felt Harris might not be the woman to help Biden. And the discussion reflected the disarray in the Democratic camp in general.
How about we just tell the truth here. Most Dem voters want Warren and it’s not close. pic.twitter.com/VUMZyecOB3
— CJ ??? (@c_james_) May 11, 2020
Not the best move in my opinion. I think Biden should go for either a progressive canidate or an inspiring one. Harris is neither.
— The Appalachian Progressive ? (@AppalachianPro5) May 11, 2020
These two make the real points, though.
How do Harris or Warren expand his voter base?
— online nobody (@online_nobody) May 11, 2020
Yeah, I don’t see Harris winning over anyone Biden doesn’t already have (ie, loyal Dem party types).
— Shamieka said I had potential! ?? (@ChattyEmu) May 11, 2020
It’s a sign of desperation.
Forget trying to expand into Trump’s voter base (and in swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan that’s what Biden’s campaign has to do or die), Harris in the lead shows how weak Biden is in his own field.
Don’t believe polls that show Biden beating Trump in any general election matchup this far out. Trump has been in the public eye daily. Biden is rapidly becoming a mythical figure. When the bumbling, stumbling, barely-there Biden re-emerges, he’s going to have a problem and his campaign knows it.
Selecting Harris as his vice president, or even floating the story that she’s leading in his vice-presidential sweepstakes, is a way for Biden to try to capture the progressive voters he’s going to need to have a prayer of defeating the sane part of the American electorate that knows Biden will be a disaster in the Oval Office.
But it’s not even clear from the tepid response to Politico’s article that Harris would be the slam-bang favorite if he did pick her.
As a former California state attorney general, Harris annoyed some influential members of the Democratic constituency, and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard hit her on it during the primary fight.
Her time as paramour two decades ago to then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown helped launch her professional and political career, which isn’t exactly a great origin story in the #MeToo era.
The bottom line is, what Harris has going for her is that she’s a woman and she’s black (and she’s not Stacey Abrams).
It might not be much as far as selling points go, but for Biden to make the selection, it just might be enough.
When you’re in a box, just about any way out looks good.
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