Is Everyone Being Unfair To Kamala Harris?

Nobody says that public philosopher Jordan Peterson is an inarticulate boob, and Veep Kamala Harris now has an unshakeable reputation as one. Yet Harris has never exceeded the level of Authentic Frontier Gibberish spewed by Peterson in that clip, which cannot be claimed to have been “taken out of context”: there is no context under the stars in which Peterson’s blather is anything but doubletalk delivered with stunning passion. It immediately reminded me of the Monty Python classic about “meanings,” here.

I confess; when any public figure engages in such blatant oral obfuscation or convoluted rhetoric, I am suspicious of their trustworthiness from that point onward. Ann Althouse, however, defends Peterson, and, by extension, Harris (and Joe Biden and many more) by writing today,

We’re living in a time when your worst few seconds will be ripped out of context and held up to discredit you. Better never to speak on camera at all than to risk creating one of these horrible clips to be used against you. We’re created a mediascape where only the cocky and reckless will speak freely. Ironically, Peterson will be one of those people. Everyone else will shrink out of public view.

Is it unfair to expect public figures and those who opine and speak for a living to do better than that, though? I know I’ve had some bad moments on the radio and in public presentations over the years, but surely there is a level of gabled thought and rhetoric that can be fairly taken as signature significance, and proof that a speaker just isn’t worth paying attention to.

Or is that unfair?

27 thoughts on “Is Everyone Being Unfair To Kamala Harris?

  1. No. The woman is a not-too-bright bulb who was chosen for her color, her gender, and nothing else. She’s repeatedly made a fool of herself, and at this point she deserves what she gets, and so do the idiots who picked her.

  2. Good lord!

    A more twisted, tortured, completely incoherent word salad has rarely assailed my hearing. We are all dumber for having heard it. I award him no points, and may God have mercy on his soul.

    I did say “rarely,” though, and Kamala Harris has equaled and surpassed that performance at almost every available opportunity. So no, we are not being unfair to Harris, we just esteemed Peterson much too highly.

    Not after this, for my part.

  3. No, you are not being unfair to Harris just because Peterson mangled what he was trying to say here. Harris is the Vice-President of the United States. Her job is significantly more important than Peterson’s and it is essential that she be able to communicate effectively . Peterson’s following, regardless of how large or small it is, is irrelevant to Harris doing her job.

  4. Unfair to Peterson as this is this first time I’ve heard him not make sense. And I listened to his Joe Rogan interviews!

    Kamala though… she’s embarrassing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her make sense when it mattered.

    And I’m a woman who is for women leaders… but not because of their sex.

    • Agree… I don’t listen to Peterson much, probably the same amount of time I’ve listened to Kamela. However this is the first time I’ve heard Peterson spew what might as well be random word salad, but nearly every time I’ve heard Mrs Harris speak, I’ve cringed.

      Yeah, it’s ick without context, but being atypical I want to hear the surrounding context… I’d simply rather not seek out additional context for the VP’s gaffes.

  5. I thought Peterson made perfect sense. Basically he was asserting that we should question the meanings of the most fundamental words which we learn to use not by definition by but by habituation. I run through this with my 14 yr old omniscient son on a daily basis.

    • Yet I believe Peterson shouldn’t need a translator, or require word-by-word parsing of his statements to make sense of it.

      My feeling is that if it sounds incoherent on first hearing, well, the walks-like-a-duck aphorism applies.

  6. With that video, I am suspicious of where it was cut off. Yes, that 50 seconds was circular nonsense, but did he go anywhere with it after the cut off?

    “Did that Happen?” – There is no context to the question, so it is impossible to tell if his deconstruction of the question is an appropriate response. Was this a discussion on the nature of existence in general, or was he asked about a particular event, and starting riffing to avoid answering the question?

    It is simply not fair to air such a clip in utter isolation, and claim it is anything but funny sounding out of context. It may well have been a word salad spit out as he tried to come up with a meaningful answer. Or it could be garbage at face value.

  7. Well… Peterson always had an awful habit of going off the rails every now and again, but he’s gotten significantly worse since his addiction issues/medical issues/induced coma. But Peterson isn’t the Vice President of The United States. He didn’t campaign for national office.

    If the question is “are these two commonly inarticulate” then sure… But I’d love someone to explain to me how they got mentioned in the same sentence.

  8. Howard Dean? Maybe. He had one huge flub that derailed him.

    John Kerry? Maybe. He had a big dumb stupid thing he said that cast him as an unprincipled hack.

    Kamala Harris? No. It is her style and her style makes her sound like a babbling idiot.

    Trump had a style too and the Left (and not so Left) mocked it. I mocked it. I would still mock it. His style is an improvisational stream of consciousness (redundant?). A verbal jazz solo. It is a goofy style for a politician, but he made it work.

    Kamala can’t pull it off.

    -Jut

  9. Peterson represents the worst in self-proclaimed intellectualism… meaning, one should pay no attention, or try to understand, his convoluted bullshit, used only to create the facade, and I mean facade, of thought.

    He is not an elected official, though. And Kamala Harris doesn’t seem to have a high enough IQ to engage in any kind of pseudo-intellectualism. I think you’re giving her a break she doesn’t deserve.

    Peterson deserves just about anything you can throw at him: “thought leader” indeed! Only if one can divine one clear thought from his verbiage.

  10. Although this particular video is quite convoluted, I see many differences between what Peterson says here, and what we see from Harris over and over.
    1. Peterson mangled his point here, Harris often seems not to have a point at all
    2. Peterson used many different words, put together in a grammatically correct and complex syntax, even though he talked in circles. Harris seems to repeat the same phrases over and over in very simplified fashion.
    3. Other examples of Peterson I have seen show that he is capable of making sense and of conveying complex ideas. I’ve yet to see Harris convey a complex concept (though in fairness this may be due to lack of opportunity).
    4. Peterson misused the phrase “begs the question” in a way that’s become so much part of the common lexicon that I doubt many picked up on it, in a relatively low-stakes situation. Harris misused the phrase “North Korea” on the world stage in a way that could impact foreign relations.
    5. If Jordan B Peterson stops making sense altogether, we can all just quit “consuming” what he’s providing. If Kamala Harris quits (?) making sense altogether she’s still the VP of the USA.

  11. I came back to this… and I actually think that Peterson has a point, it just might not have been what was expected, or relevant to their greater conversation.

    It’s about groundwork…

    “Do you believe in God”
    DO you believe in God?
    Do YOU believe in God?
    Do you BELIEVE in God?
    Do you believe in GOD?

    The question asked is very different depending on how it’s stressed, and each question has a subquestion: What does the stressed word mean?

    Do you believe in God?

    In order of decreasing importance: What does “believe” entail? What does “God” entail? Who exactly is the “you” we’re talking about? How active is “Do”?

    By the end of it, you could say I’m quibbling, but there’s a difference in “Do” between someone who actively and entirely devotes and models themselves to the spirit, and someone who believes, but thinks they’ll sort the small things out in confession. There’s a difference in tone between “you” being a singular person, and “you” being a group represented by that person (you people). And past there… What is belief and what is God are fairly obviously important, at least once the question is asked.

    Full disclosure, I’m not sure exactly which question Peterson was responding to, but I expect that it was something about as ambiguous as “Are trans men, men?”

    ARE trans men, men?
    Are TRANS men, men?
    Are trans MEN, men?
    Are trans men, MEN?

    And then in order of importance: What is a man? Are we talking about sex or gender? If we’re talking about gender, what does “man” mean in THAT context? What is a trans man? And how deep a conviction does “are” carry?

    You could do that with almost any question, I think that in a long form back and forth, questions like that could get dug into, but they aren’t really appropriate for short interviews…. You’d instead need to rely on shortcuts and terms that everyone agrees to. The problem there is that the political left and the right have an entirely different lexicon. It’s particularly noticeable on the extremes, but even on the margins, our language is just different… And if there’s anyone who understand intrinsically what it’s like to be misrepresented by the media, it’s probably Jordan Peterson.

      • Thanks. Context did make it a little better, and while I stand by everything I said, it wasn’t quite the point he was making.

        Jonathan Pageau kind of cleaned it up and made it more digestible afterwards by saying that what Jordan was grappling with was something that Muslims might actually take for granted: That a profession that you submit to God without actions were an empty words, and that the answer to a question like “Do you believe in God” is better answered by action.

        • Gah, no… He’s still all over the place. I keep on wanting to put him on 2x speed because he uses a whole lot of words to say nothing, but 2x speed makes him sound like a squirrel with ADD actively huffing PCP because he’s actually pushing words out of his mouth very quickly. Every now and again there’s this blossom of something that might be an interesting idea, and he murders it in the crib with his tangentials.

          • I remember him being a lot more coherent in previous recordings of him. I’m starting to think the benzodiazapine addiction and induced coma did him no favors, but it’s also possible my previous exposure had a massive selection bias.

            I also think the subject matter here is an issue, because he’s trying to make religious belief rational when it’s inherently dependent on irrational belief. Might be my personal bias affecting it. My general experience with strongly religious people (including the militant atheists oddly enough ) is that they don’t actually think their arguments through very carefully, and trying to do so leads them into odd rabbit holes.

    • Very illuminating analysis HT. Thanks.

      Peterson has already made significant contributions to the world, whereas kneepads Harris has now been exposed as the halfwit she’s always been, with possibly one redeeming quality…

      • I know… Right? Peterson’s books tend to be much less controversial than his interviews. I mean, 12 rules for life was particularly milquetoast: 12 things you can do to improve your quality of life.
        “Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping.”, “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.”, “Make friends with people who want the best for you.”, “Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.”, “Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.”. I found them unreadable, although I persevered. It is meanderingly eclectic, but between his tangents, he explained his reasoning well enough and most of them made great sense. People read that and were helped by it, Harris spent a career as a prosecutor putting people away for cannabis use and then went on a talk show and bragged about her cannabis use.

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