Pick Kamala Harris, Joe!
Harris is the most complete candidate to fill the vice-presidential slot on Joe Biden’s ticket. The U.S. senator from California brings a profile that, outside of Michelle Obama, no woman of color can match.
Sterling credentials aside, Harris finds herself under siege. A cadre of Biden donors has launched a back-alley crusade to discredit Harris. According to news reports, these men and women have begged Biden, committed as he is to selecting a woman for his ticket, to pick anybody but Harris.
I confess Harris, 55, wasn’t my favorite when she ran against Biden and a legion of others for the Democratic presidential nomination. I took issue with her temperament as California attorney general, a position she held before heading to the Senate.
Her record as a law-and-order politician has come under scrutiny, even from me. Her critics said Harris lacked compassion. They are wrong.
Now, a different set of critics says she’s overly ambitious, which is why they’re urging Biden privately not to pick her.
I wait to hear one of these nameless critics explain why ambition is a mark against a person. Step from behind the curtain and identify yourself.
When Harris decided to seek Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat, she wasn’t seen as too ambitious then, was she?
I think not.
I see what they’re saying about Harris as similar to what I heard people say about Hillary Clinton. I don’t recall any criticism of Donald Trump, a political lightweight, as a man with too much ambition.
Are those critics using a different yardstick to judge a woman – a Black woman, specifically?
I hope such criticism won’t mar Biden’s campaign or his presidency. Like all politicians, Biden needs a sounding board – trusted men and women whose wisdom he leans on. He ought not, however, let those wiseman (and women) tie him into a Gordian knot he can’t undo.
Because for Biden to win, he needs to make certain Black women head to the polls and vote – and vote for him. They have been bedrocks of Democratic politics, and I doubt efforts to sully Harris and her reputation will engender much loyalty from people who look like her.
Yet my bigger concern is what Democrats risk in painting Harris in an unflattering light. Unexpected circumstances have allowed the party to build momentum for the November election; it’s theirs to lose. I hope they don’t bring that momentum to a halt with pettiness and anti-Harris rhetoric.
The party is better served to shy away from the pot shots and, instead, point to the plusses of each vice-presidential prospect. Leave the negativity to Trump and the Republican clan.
In picking Harris – and he should – the 77-year-old Biden gets a running mate unafraid to fight and is most ready to step in for him. He faced her fighting spirit during the debates. Her political views were unchained, much to his chagrin.
Biden’s ticket needs a Harris. It needs a dynamic Black woman who will wage a spirited fight with Vice President Mike Pence or whoever else gets in her way.
If that’s being too ambitious, I can live with it. What I can’t live with is the snipping from behind closed doors that seems bent on pushing Biden to pick a person who someone else talked him into.