1. Ethics Alarms readers called it! Among those who were willing to choose the least bad of the three choices remaining to Biden, given his mandate to choose a black woman, Harris was the winner.
2. How objectively awful is Kamala Harris? This is the woman Joe Biden placed a heartbeat from the presidency, from the post here of December 3, 2019:
Let us stipulate: the failure of Kamala Harris to thrive in the race for the Democratic nomination for President was not because Democratic voters are racist or sexist. It is because she was a lousy candidate from the beginning. Checking off boxes is never enough, thank heaven. She is a woman, “of color,” a lawyer and a Senator from a large and powerful state. To top it all off, Harris is relatively young, and attractive. Perfect!
Except it was easy to see that she was an empty suit with a penchant for saying stupid things, often things she couldn’t possibly believe and that contradicted her record as a prosecutor. She said that it was “outrageous” that the Trump administration wanted to deport illegal immigrants who had committed crimes. [Me: “It is not and cannot be “outrageous” to say that any illegal immigrant, criminal or not, qualifies for deportation. To maintain otherwise is to say that the United States cannot enforce its immigration laws, and not only that, it is “outrageous” to enforce the laws. Is that the position of the Democratic Party? “] She said that she supported legalizing pot because it brought people “joy.” You know, like heroin, rape, and child molesting. She said, when Joe Biden correctly pointed out that a President could not ban “assault weapons” by executive order, she responded, “Well, I mean, I would just say, hey, Joe, instead of saying, no, we can’t, let’s say yes, we can.” Horrified when she saw the exchange,, law prof Ann Althouse wrote, “The transcript cannot convey the feeling and expression in Kamala Harris’s [ response]. It is so awful, so lightweight and dismissive of constitutional law (and without any of the dignity of constitutional critique.”
There are plenty more catalogued here, and it is hardly exhaustive. Harris flopped because she proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was unqualified to be a Senator, much less a President. As if that wasn’t enough, she couldn’t manage her campaign, which had disintegrated into finger-pointing and defections. When Barack Obama was challenged in 2008 over his lack of leadership experience, he cited the success of his campaign. Slim indeed, but Harris couldn’t even say that.
As the writing on the wall began to be undeniable, Harris stooped to race- and gender baiting, expressing doubts as to whether a “woman of color” could be elected President (in such a racist, sexist nation, she implied.) No, Senator it’s just that you can’t be elected.
3. It’s old news, but I think it is fair to say that Martin Luther King’s “content of their character” line is officially in the ash-heap of history. All the “100 black leaders” who signed a letter threatening and insulting Biden (and whites generally)–“Failing to select a Black woman in 2020 means YOU WILL lose the election, we don’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils, we don’t want to vote the devil we know vs. the devil we don’t because we’re tired of voting for devils period”—care about is the color of a candidate’s skin. Is that progress? The deterioration of principle and idealism in the black community is almost as depressing as the fact that a rapper like Puffy Combs can be listed as a black leader.
If I wanted to be unfair, I could say that Joe showed he could be dictated to by voting blocs, but he had already thoroughly painted himself into a corner, or his party had. #MeToo took male Democrats out of consideration–which is absurd, but never mind—and the George Floyd Freakout made Biden groveling for the ” Whites are Evil” vote a foregone conclusion. Biden’s team, hardly convincingly, tried to keep the illusion alive that he was considering more than color by pretending Elizabeth Warren was still a possibility. Who believed that?
4. So Biden’s first decision related to the Presidency, in which his duty is to choose a proven leader the American people can trust to take on the crushing challenges of being President, if it should come to that, and he makes it, not based on experience or ability, but on factors irrelevant to ability. Got it.
To be fair (again), he is hardly the first candidate for the White House to use factors other than competence to determine a running mate. After all, Obama chose Joe Biden. Dan Quayle was chosen by Bush the Elder because he was admired by the Religious Right that distrusted H.W. Quick: who ran for President with the immortal Bill Miller as his running mate? Then there was the previous Democratic woman tapped for VP: Geraldine Ferraro.
That there is precedent for candidates being irresponsible is no excuse for it. Still, some really bad choices have turned out surprisingly well. Truman was an irresponsible choice. Garfield didn’t pick Chester A. Arthur—the party did—but he was less promising than Harris. Both Arthur and Truman were pleasant surprises. Truman was probably the closest comp for Harris’s situation. FDR’s inner circle knew he was unlikely to survive his fourth term, but the public did not. How many potential voters are aware that Biden is a hairsbreadth away from needing a Visiting Angel? My guess? Not as many as you would think.
5. Given Biden’s unethical restrictions on his choice (“Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”) was Harris the best choice? Absolutely! Rice is completely principle free and incompetent. Bass quickly exposed herself as neither trustworthy nor bright. I don’t know when Stay Abrams fell out of contention, but it was a good thing: she had fewer qualifications than any of them. Warren is the smartest and the most articulate, and also the most dangerous. She’s completely unscrupulous.
Thank goodness she isn’t black.
6. ADDED: That she’s the best of the terrible choices doesn’t mean Harris herself is anything terrible herself. Here is Kevin Williamson’s searing assessment.