The race for Joe Biden’s running mate appears headed to one final week full of interviews. The list of potential suitors remains long with California Senator Kamala Harris and former White House national security adviser Susan Rice as the potential favorites. The Wall Street Journal and The Hill included Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and California Congresswoman Karen Bass close-to favorites.
Harris, Rice, and Warren fall into the “worst possible choice” category, all due to their policy positions.
Harris is a cop, whose hypocrisy on justice reform is known to those who followed her career as California Attorney General. The Atlantic revealed she refused to release a man wrongly imprisoned and sought to keep California from paying him for the injustice and was accused of bowing to the will of police unions by not releasing certain information to defendants. Mother Jones pointed out her opposition to the death penalty seems far too politically-motivated based on her recent past as California AG along with a possible lie on Rachel Maddow’s show last year. Reason magazine suggested Harris enjoyed plenty of latitude as a prosecutor and AG when it came to following through on cases but never used it. Her comments on “just following the law” appear hollow. If she is lying about her belief in justice reform, what else is she lying about in her positions?
Rice is a war hawk. She pushed for the Libya invasion and U.S. involvement in Syria both of which did not have congressional approval. The New York Times questioned Rice’s relationship with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and whether she protected him from United Nations pressure regarding instability in Congo. She may have legitimate questions about trusting Saudi Arabia, but her willingness to go along with the Obama Administration’s foreign policy adventurism remains extremely troublesome. Then there’s Benghazi.
Warren’s issues are mostly on domestic policy and separation of powers. Sure, she’s got a plan for everything but what happens if that plan is just a bunch of numbers that don’t add up? AEI’s Jim Pethokoukis noted Warren’s Medicare-for-All plan contained too many assumptions regarding wealth taxes and whether they work. Her trade policy is insane and goes farther than President Donald Trump’s protectionist stupidity. She claims to be against cronyism yet did nothing to end the ExIm Bank. Her Accountable Capitalism Act sounds good to her progressive fans but fails reality and would harm the economy and likely damage innovation. Warren’s love of executive orders would do nothing to keep the executive from running more amok. Warren’s personality is akin to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz: brash and bombastic but relies too much on populism to keep supporters happy. Whether it’s enough to bring in other voters is questionable given her failure to lure in Bernie Sanders fans in the primary.
Does this make Whitmer or Bass better choices? Not necessarily. Whitmer runs into questions regarding her handling of coronavirus in Michigan particularly her handing out, then pulling back a no-bid contract to a party connected firm. Her outright lie in March regarding whether the White House wasn’t sending Michigan PPE requests is inexcusable as was her lie about ambulances being blocked during anti-lockdown protests. She’d definitely get under Trump’s skin but has praised the work of Vice President Mike Pence. That’s a question she’ll have to answer in a debate if she’s picked by Biden and if there are any debates.
Bass has run into criticism for praising Scientology in 2010 and Fidel Castro. She had to promise NBC News last week, “I’m not a communist,” and denied being a socialist either which may cause pause among actual socialists and Cuban-Americans unsure who they’ll vote for in November. The theory is Biden needs Florida to win in November, so Bass’ praise of Castro puts Miami-Dade in question. Not sure I buy that theory but it’s worth considering.
It is interesting to see the vice-presidential pick as a serious factor in November. The role is mostly ceremonial except for the occasional press conference and vote in the Senate if there’s a tie. The “Bachelor-like” competition this election cycle is likely due to the fact people wonder if Biden will even finish out a full term if he’s elected.
However, that brings up the question: why is he even running? Yes, Biden wants to be president. Yes, Biden was probably the best candidate of those who chose to run for president this year, which doesn’t say much about the Democratic candidates. His track record in Washington is also horrendous having picked failed policy after failed policy. It’s better than a populism vs. populism presidential campaign, but not by much.
As for who he’ll pick? Harris or Rice, most likely. Which won’t really do much.