I remember Aug. 29, 2008, the day that John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate.
I remember it because a feeling of sickness came over me, knowing that John McCain had thrown away the election to Barack Obama.
I had talked to a number of left-leaning moderates who liked the right-leaning moderate McCain. These people were concerned about Obama’s lack of experience. He had no record of accomplishments in college, after college, as a community organizer, or even as a state senator or U.S. senator. He was a virtual unknown. And he had no qualms about voicing support for conflicting positions on such divisive topics as Israel, health care, foreign policy, and same-sex marriage, depending on his audience.
McCain, on the other hand, had been a war hero and an active member of Congress, both as a representative and a senator, having written and sponsored numerous bills. He was a “maverick” who didn’t waver in his positions and was willing to go against the Republican Party when he felt it was necessary. Though a military man, he didn’t favor foreign wars. On social issues, he was somewhat “progressive.”
Some of my friends on the left were wary of Obama and his “cult of personality.” They were ready to vote for McCain until he introduced Sarah Palin. She also had little experience, she could be grating, and she said things that, frankly, didn’t seem too smart. Her political positions appealed to those on the moderate and far right, who were probably going to vote for McCain in any case, but they repelled those on the left.
Has Joe Biden made a similar mistake in choosing Kamala Harris? Let’s look at the facts.
Joe Biden Doesn’t Need California
One reason to pick a VP candidate is to boost regional support. John F. Kennedy famously chose Lyndon B. Johnson, a man with a personality and temperament so different from JFK that they almost certainly couldn’t stand one another. But Kennedy needed support from the South, and LBJ gave that to him.
In this case, California would notoriously vote for a potted plant on the Democratic Party ticket, which is why there has never been a Democratic VP from California. It’s strategically unnecessary.
Democrats Don’t Like Her
Despite the mainstream media’s love, Harris didn’t do well in the Democratic primary. She dropped out early when she couldn’t raise funds after only two months, before a single vote was cast, leaving 15 contenders still in the race. Why did she do so poorly?
First, she’s just not likeable. Like Hillary Clinton, Harris lectures and is condescending. Her smiles and laughs seem contrived, purely as campaign affectations to try to win over voters.
Her real personality came out on televised senate hearings including the confirmations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. While extremists in her party saw her as supporting women’s rights and defending against right-wing extremists, many just saw her as nasty. She grilled witnesses like a character from a TV legal drama rather than someone who had actually been in a courtroom, where she presumably knows such leading and accusatory questions would never be allowed.
The Far Left Doesn’t Like Her
The far left has taken the reins of the Democratic Party. When “The Squad”—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)—came into office and challenged the leadership of the party, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brushed them off. But now, Pelosi gives them deference, endorsements, and positions on important congressional committees. And the far left does not like Kamala Harris.
As district attorney of San Francisco, Harris increased the felony conviction rate from 52 percent to 71 percent. Convictions of drug dealers increased from 56 percent to 74 percent. The far left believes that these convictions unfairly target blacks and other minorities.
She also created a truancy initiative, sending out letters threatening prosecution of parents of chronically truant elementary students, seen by the far left as discriminatory. Harris also pushed for higher bail for certain criminal defendants, but the far left has successfully lobbied for eliminating bail in major cities around the country.
As California attorney general, Harris continued her promotion of criminal penalties for parents of truant children. She is believed by the far left to have a significant record of wrongful convictions.
University of San Francisco law professor Lara Bazelon said Harris “weaponized technicalities to keep wrongfully convicted people behind bars rather than allow them new trials.” She was accused of not holding prosecutors and police accountable in a scandal involving accusations of misconduct and overzealous prosecution.
Supporters of Bernie Sanders, the Democratic contender who carried the torch for the far left, are less than enamored with Harris. A group of “progressive” delegates in California signed a letter urging Biden not to pick Harris. This is a particularly bad sign that those in her own state don’t want her. Sanders’ former national press secretary, Briahna Joy Gray, disparagingly tweeted:
“We are in the midst of the largest protest movement in American history, the subject of which is excessive policing, and the Democratic Party chose a ‘top cop’ and the author of the Joe Biden crime bill to save us from Trump.
“The contempt for the base is, wow.”
We are in the midst of the largest protest movement in American history, the subject of which is excessive policing, and the Democratic Party chose a “top cop” and the author of the Joe Biden crime bill to save us from Trump.
The contempt for the base is, wow.
— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) August 11, 2020
Biden already had a problem with the far left and needed someone to appease that faction of the Democratic Party.
Sanders’ campaign co-chairwoman Nina Turner said about Biden’s nomination in an article in the Atlantic that “You have a bowl of [expletive] in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing. It’s still [expletive].” Harris doesn’t solve that problem.
She Will Do or Say Anything
Harris presented herself as a tough-on-crime prosecutor when she ran for senate. This year, when it became obvious that far left voters would determine the outcome in the Democratic primaries, she made herself out to be one of them.
She attacked Biden for his support of busing and work with segregationists, all but implying that he’s a racist—currently the most evil epithet a leftist can hurl. Yet now she’s fully on board his campaign and supporting him.
When it was politically expedient, Harris believed Biden’s accusers of sexual harassment. Now that she’s on the Biden team, she’s suddenly silent. Of course, the far left has little real interest in sexual harassment charges except as political ammunition.
Harris had a well-publicized affair with married San Francisco Mayor and State Assembly Speaker Willie Brown from 1994 to 1995. During that time, Brown appointed her to two political posts, the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the Medical Assistance Commission, jumpstarting her political career.
But the Right Needs to Be Careful
Already I see a huge mistake that many on the right are making, including President Donald Trump’s campaign. Republicans are painting Harris as a leftist disguised as a moderate. This is a mistake.
Trump’s base of conservatives will never vote for Biden, regardless of his running mate—there’s no need to convince Republican voters that Kamala Harris is a poor candidate. There are plenty of things we can use to attack Biden, the most effective being his own clumsy, often incoherent words, his history of bad policies in the senate and in the Obama administration, and his inept policy proposals.
To win this election, Republicans need to peel off Biden’s support from the left. To do that, the far left needs to see Harris as the flip-flopping, opportunistic moderate that she is. Of course, they won’t believe it coming from Trump or any other Republican campaign. But the far left is already putting out that message.
Republicans need to focus on Biden and ignore Harris. The far left is already doing a better job than the Republicans to tarnish Harris and, in doing so, helping destroy Biden’s chances in November.
Bob Zeidman has a Bachelor of Art and a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University. He is an inventor and the founder of successful high-tech Silicon Valley firms including Zeidman Consulting and Software Analysis and Forensic Engineering. He also writes novels; his latest is the political satire “Good Intentions.”
The views expressed herein are solely those of the author. As a nonpartisan public charity, The Epoch Times does not endorse these statements and takes no position on political candidates.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.