Her springboard for this line of questioning with Ronald Vitiello is Vitiello’s own years-old tweet describing the Democrats’ role in the history of segregation as “neo-Klanist.” Which makes the clip below a quintessential 2018 moment in American politics: Two opponents using a serious policy matter to bicker over which is more like the Ku Klux Klan.
Watching Harris here reminded me of when she questioned Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing about whether he’d ever discussed Bob Mueller with someone from Marc Kasowitz’s law firm. That exchange went on for several minutes and caused a sensation on lefty Twitter; it sounded like Harris had information that Trump’s SCOTUS nominee had been discussing the special counsel with someone from a firm run by the president’s former lawyer, a smoking gun that Kavanaugh was in the tank for Trump on Russiagate. When Kavanaugh blanked and asked Harris to tell him who, specifically, she had in mind, she declined. Later she admitted she didn’t have anyone in mind. It was a form of ratf*cking, insinuating on camera before a big audience that Kavanaugh had a potentially disqualifying conflict of interest without directly asserting it and then letting it drop.
This exchange with Vitiello is another example of her preferring to insinuate rather than assert. It starts with some mild pedagogy about the Klan, with Harris leading Vitiello until he specifies that the group’s intimidation tactics were race-based, and then it takes a turn. Are you aware that there’s a perception that ICE also uses fear and intimidation in targeting Latino immigrants, she asks? I reject that parallel, says Vitiello. But are you aware that there’s a perception, she emphasizes. See, she’s not claiming there’s a parallel (necessarily). But some people are. That’ll be her defense to the endless headlines about this in righty media that Harris compared ICE to KKK. I didn’t, she’ll say, but some people see a resemblance — and that’s troubling and worth addressing, don’t you think? Vitiello should have asked her if she’s aware that there’s a perception that pre-civil-rights-era Democrats were “neo-Klanist.”
Or he could have asked her what sort of agency tasked with removing illegal immigrants from the country wouldn’t be accused of “fear and intimidation.” What sort of rainbows-and-ponies immigration enforcement agency exists in the Democratic imagination that it wouldn’t be accused of inspiring “fear” in its targets? Is she aware that there’s a perception that the Democratic Party is now a garbage dump of open-borders radicals?
I mean, I’m not asserting that. But that perception exists, you know. Among some people.
Meh, I don’t like her. And I try hard not to let ideology blind me to why liberals might like particular liberal politicians. I understand why Beto O’Rourke’s Obama-style idealism works on lefties. I understand why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s youthful change-the-world populism appeals to them. I don’t understand what it is about Harris that’s supposedly so compelling that she’s the de facto frontrunner unless Biden runs.