Much of the media will spend today offering puff pieces on Kamala Harris and her ascension to the Democratic ticket as Joe Biden’s running mate. The Washington Post’s daily newsletter has seven stories — almost half the links in today’s blast — that practically look like bullet points on the Biden-Harris campaign web site:
- Harris pick creates an emotional moment for Black women
- In picking Harris, Biden makes history and plays it safe
- Harris and Biden once were at odds on criminal justice issues. Finding common ground helped lead him to pick her as his running mate.
- Kamala Harris was Joe Biden’s boldest and most qualified pick
- America is about to see what smart Republicans saw in Kamala Harris years ago
- What you need to know about Kamala Harris
- The qualities that hampered Harris’s campaign could be the ones that make her an ideal running mate
That last one’s my favorite. Harris went into this cycle the co-favorite (with Biden) as the most likely woman of color to succeed with a party that steeped itself in identity-politics preening. Karen Tumulty at least acknowledges this point in noting at the start that Harris “fell short of the high expectations that greeted her electrifying entry into the 2020 race … She didn’t even make it as far as Iowa.” In fact, Harris didn’t even outlast Tulsi Gabbard, who beat Harris like a drum in two debates.
Tumulty attempts to put the best possible spin Harris’ abject failure by claiming that this brand of incompetence is just what she needs to succeed as second banana:
But the qualities that hampered her when she was running in her own right could be what make her ideal as former vice president Joe Biden’s running mate — and ultimately, as his partner in governing the country as it struggles to recover from the devastation wrought by the novel coronavirus.
Harris brings to the ticket and potentially the White House the thrill of history as the first Black and Asian woman to be put forward by a major political party as a national candidate.
Note, please: That didn’t even thrill Democrats who were positively begging to be thrilled by it. Why? Because Harris turned out to be an inept campaigner, a wild puncher with a glass jaw, and someone who came across as a phony. Note also, please: Tumulty never does get around to discussing how those “qualities” work in Biden’s favor over the next three months.
There’s nothing wrong with focusing on a running-mate pick the next news day, but … is it too much to ask for a little balance? Is there not one person in the Washington Post staff who could write a critical analysis of Harris’ failure in 2019, or her issues in posing as a progressive with her record as attorney general? Democracies die in the absence of hagiographies of those seeking power, it seems.
One doesn’t normally turn to Donald Trump for a little balance, and … well, don’t expect any today, either. However, Trump did get a softball from someone last night about Harris being “phony” in his press briefing, and Trump responded by declaring Harris his “number one draft pick”:
Q And I wanted to ask about a specific example that a lot of people thought was a phony moment. As San Francisco DA, she oversaw, according to the Mercury News, 1,900 marijuana convictions. But she was asked in an interview last year if she had smoked marijuana, and she appeared to joke and, according to some people, lie, and say that she was listening to Snoop Dogg and Tupac, while — their music hadn’t come out at the time, while she said she was smoking pot and listening to it. Why would she lie about that? Do you see that as more evidence — is her past on marijuana a liability?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, she lied. I mean, she said things that were untrue. She is a person that’s told many, many stories that weren’t true. She’s very big into raising taxes. She wants to slash funds for our military at a level that nobody has — can even believe.
She is against fracking. Fracking is — she’s against petroleum products. I mean, how do you do that and go into Pennsylvania or Ohio or Oklahoma or the great state of Texas? She is against fracking; fracking is a big deal.
She is in favor of socialized medicine, where you’re going to lose your doctors, you’re going to lose your plans. She wants to take your healthcare plans away from 180 million Americans — 180 million Americans that are very happy with their health insurance. And she wants to take that away.
So she was my number-one pick. I mean, she was — as they would say, because hopefully you’ll start college football — she was my number-one draft pick. And we’ll see how she works out.
She did very, very poorly in the primaries, as you know. She was expected to do well, and she was — she ended up at right around 2 percent, and spent a lot of money. She had a lot of things happening. And so I was a little surprised that he picked her. I’ve been watching her for a long time, and I was a little surprised.
She was extraordinarily nasty to Kavanaugh — Judge Kavanaugh, then; now Justice Kavanaugh. She was nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing. The way she was — the way she treated now-Justice Kavanaugh. And I won’t forget that soon.
So she did very poorly in the primaries, and now she’s chosen. So let’s see how that all works out.
Q Should supporters of marijuana legalization vote for you, rather than her, because she convicted so many people in the past?
THE PRESIDENT: I can’t tell you what she’s voting for. I don’t think she knows what — I think Joe knows even less than she does. But I was only surprised at the pick. A lot of people were saying, “That might be the pick.” I was more surprised than anything else, because she did so poorly. Many people did much better than her in the primary. She did very poorly in the primaries. And that’s like a poll. You know, that’s like a poll.
Trump returned to that theme today:
.@KamalaHarris started strong in the Democrat Primaries, and finished weak, ultimately fleeing the race with almost zero support. That’s the kind of opponent everyone dreams of!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2020
As I wrote yesterday, I doubt Mike Pence is losing any sleep in prepping for a debate against Harris. Trump’s not worried either, but that’s mainly because running mates don’t really matter in presidential campaigns anyway. That makes today’s coordinated media talking points on Harris all the more mystifying.