Joe Biden picks Kamala Harris as his running-mate

His choice is both groundbreaking and conventional

8/12/2020 5:49:00 AM

Their politics are similar, but Kamala Harris has a star quality that Joe Biden lacks

His choice is both groundbreaking and conventional

NEARLY 14 months ago, before a pandemic put paid to traditional political campaigning, before anyone had heard of Gordon Sondland or Lev Parnas or any of the other minor characters who emerged from Donald Trump’s impeachment saga, the Democratic Party had a problem: how to hold a presidential debate with 20 candidates. They solved it by having the score draw lots; ten would debate on the first night, and ten on the second. The debates’ sole memorable moment came on the second night, when Kamala Harris laid into Joe Biden over his opposition to federally mandated busing to integrate schools, and what she deemed to be his too-kind recollection of two segregationist senators.

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Ms Harris was not then leading in most polls, but she was widely seen as a promising candidate—the one best able to reassemble the Obama coalition of progressives, non-white voters and young people. The cognoscenti tended to write off Mr Biden’s polling lead as an artefact of name recognition; he rambled and often seemed a half-step too slow. What people remember from that interchange was Ms Harris’s line, “That little girl was me”—referring to how she was bused to a majority-white school. Less remembered was that Mr Biden, having absorbed her blows, threw a few back, reminding the audience that unlike Ms Harris, he was a public defender rather than a prosecutor (an applause line). He then held his own in an argument—no easy feat: Ms Harris is a sharp, clinical, relentless debater. In subsequent debates the two circled each other, but never really traded haymakers again. The exchange seemed to leave no lingering bad blood: on August 11th, Mr Biden announced Ms Harris as his running-mate.

The choice is at once groundbreaking and predictable. It is groundbreaking, of course, because Ms Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, is the first black woman and the first Asian-American chosen for a major-party national ticket. She is also the first Democratic presidential or vice-presidential nominee from west of Texas: the mountain west is ancestrally Republican, and California’s two presidents (Reagan and Nixon) were both Republicans. And she is just the fourth woman—after Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton—to appear on either party’s general-election ballot.

It is predictable because, ever since Mr Biden announced he would choose a female running-mate, Ms Harris has been among the front-runners—first, because she had the fewest flaws. Elizabeth Warren is not much younger than Mr Biden, and might have cost Democrats a Senate seat (Massachusetts’s governor, who would have nominated her replacement pending a special election, is a Republican). Stacey Abrams, the progressives’ darling, had never held higher office than in Georgia’s state legislature. Karen Bass, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, was a vocal admirer of Fidel Castro—an impediment to any ticket that wants to win Florida. Too many people who knew Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, seemed to dislike her.

More important, Ms Harris is a talented politician. True, she ran an awful presidential campaign. It grew too big too quickly, spent too much money, and never really decided if it was a centrist or progressive campaign. But her loss in the primary was anomalous: she has won every other elected office she has sought. After dropping out, she returned to the Senate, where she helped craft the Justice in Policing Act, which would establish a national use-of-force standard for police, ban no-knock warrants in drug cases and expand the investigative powers of attorneys-general.

That was not just good policy, it was also good politics. The left never particularly warmed to Ms Harris, a former prosecutor, and putting her name on ambitious police-reform legislation added heft to her argument that she became a prosecutor to change things from the inside. But in that respect—in her comfort with transactional politics and aversion to the crusading, hectoring politics and style of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—she resembles Mr Biden. Neither is particularly ideological; both are consummate insiders. They are open to progressive ideas but remain firmly planted in the party’s centre. And people tend to like them; they connect well with voters.

The choice suggests that Mr Biden is not terribly worried about his left flank, or at least, that he thinks the groundbreaking nature of Ms Harris’s candidacy will do at least as much as choosing Ms Warren or Ms Abrams would have done to boost turnout where he needs help: among young and non-white voters. Mr Biden won the nomination, of course, on the strength of his appeal to African-American voters, but he needs non-white voters to turn out in the general election at 2012, not 2016 levels—particularly in states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida.

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Ms Harris also has a star quality that Mr Biden lacks. She wields a deft knife, and will perform the vice-presidential nominee’s traditional attack duties fearsomely well. No doubt Democrats are already salivating at the thought of her facing off against Mike Pence’s dour tut-tutting. Her background as a prosecutor makes her ideally suited for a law-and-order election, as this one is shaping up to be. Choosing Ms Warren would have given Mr Trump’s argument that Democrats are really a far-left party some validity; choosing Ms Rice would have let Republicans endlessly relitigate Obama-era foreign-policy failures. But finding a potent and specific attack line against Ms Harris is difficult.

Some in Bidenworld deemed Ms Harris “too ambitious”, a criticism that had more than a whiff of sexism about it (every successful politician is ambitious; nobody seems to mind ambitious men). Mr Biden, sensibly, seems to have decided that her ambition is a net positive. She now finds herself the front-runner to succeed him, whether that is in four years—Mr Biden turns 78 in November, and has been coy about whether he will seek a second term—or eight. Her path to the presidency, if they win, will largely depend on how successful she helps to make his presidency.

Read more: The Economist »

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Who wrote this article It's the first time a presidential candidate has selected someone who has accused them of being racist and sexual assault. If God forbid they win Our government will be all about corruption once more. America has had enough Of Clinton's and Biden's and every other corrupt politician. Dont stop draining the swamp! TRUMP/Pence 2020🇺🇸

Why does he have to hug and kiss every woman he is near? It’s SLEAZY. Why cant he have a bit of respect and keep his distance? She got 13% of the vote to be the democrat nominee and now people believe she would be president if sleepy joe won. Trump will pass this. Laughable Well color or competence? Your collage is improbable at best. It is a false front and intended only to deceive yourself. Speak to yourself, o money-minded ones. Is there really a group of Biden Voters like the ones in the photo? We don't watch the store like you do. I may just vote this time.

Cop Kamala is a direct descendant of one of the largest slaveowners in Jamaica: Hamilton Brown. Since Biden probably will resign before the election period has ended. Ladies and gentlemen: The first female president in the history of the United States. Joe Biden by himself has destroyed his own campaign. With Kamala Harris there can be no campaign.

LOL Race background not the capability. yawn. Retweet if you’re as ecstatic as I am about President Biden and Vice President Harris! The two of them bring Power, integrity, Energy, truth, justice And they work for the people! Biden will have the BEST QUALIFIED people surrounding him! BidenHarrisWillHealUs I have Hope again!

From an electoral delegates perspective. California will go to biden california wirh Sen. Harris or not . Not sure in terms of electoral delegates how it helped. Perhaps if he would have picked from Florida or PA it would helped biden more. No it isn’t. Trump wouldn’t pick anyone who criticized him or pointed out his weaknesses. He needs a yes man like Pence. This shows Joe’s character more than anything else. Strong. Resilient. Leader.

Brilliant choice 😊 It's time for a change! Groundbreaking: black woman. Predictable: 'tough on crime', throwing parents in jail based on school attendance, oversaw 1900+ marijuana convictions, kept people in prison to provide the state with slave labor, including children, to make them fight wildfires.

Amazing how the scent of power can change a persons mind. I guess Harris no longer believes Biden’s accusers or will be accusing him of being a racist again anytime soon...🤷‍♂️ 😂😂😂😂🤣😂🤣🤣🤣 How about qualifications? Good grief, star quality? This is about governing, possibly running a country. SMH

कमला बेंचूत हैं Yikes, JoeBiden lacks star quality, not what you want on the top of the ticket. The old man needs a nurse. That star quality that gets you polling at 2% so you drop out of the primaries. Star quality Star quality? She was polling fifth in her home state behind Andrew Yang when she dropped out.

star quality? LOL ... The Economist is a bunch of propaganda frauds for the slavery party of America. Fact: FYI she is not 'black' she is Jamacian (who is 3/4 Irish white of slave owner decent) and half Indian. The only 'black she has in her is from Willie Brown. Even her hubby is white. Soooo you really dont have a 'Black VP candidate' you do have a woman of color.

A door knob has more star quality than JoeBiden. Just let the poor man take a nap. Wtf are you smoking economist Clearly if she had a star power he lacked she would have been elected as the presidential candidate and not him. What a stupid comment. That star quality really showed with all of her primary wins...

The pathetic garbage being posted here, you small “men” might as well be posting... No. Don’t wanna see that. Already assured hers is anyway. This is all I have to say.. Indeed. Plus, she's black eh? Not bad for Willie's Mistress pay out BUT MORE is plan Biden is OUT under 25 Adm - USC She is OUT with DUAL citizenship Jamaica Nancy Pelosi POTUS by default - without being on ticket & Michelle OBAMA VP will be nominated

Democratic VP candidate and self-declared “top cop' Kamala Harris held a friendly meeting with Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017. It showed she is more than willing to throw anti-racism — and Palestinians — under the bus. I wanted Warren. Harris has the potential to bring a Michelle Obama type of 'halo' effect to the Biden campaign

When did the Economist become the Onion? Great satire. Also a functioning brain, or at least an ability to form sentences Not that much people think she is a star Welcome to Joevember 2020 welcome aboard Mrs Harris Bullshit... The only quality she has is how she rides coattails... YES SHE DOES!

That's the ticket: Joe Biden picks Sen. Kamala Harris as his 2020 vice presidential running mateShe has been a VP contender since she endorsed Biden. Harris is the first Black woman and Asian American person on a major-party presidential ticket. Vice-President Kamala Harris has a great ring to it; the ring of liberty. Vote Democrat and Biden for POTUS Nov. 2, 2020! Lololol Trump 2020

That's the ticket: Joe Biden picks Sen. Kamala Harris as his 2020 vice presidential running mateShe has been a VP contender since she endorsed Biden. Harris is the first Black woman and Asian American person on a major-party presidential ticket. Terrible decision. It will certainly help Creepy Joe in getting a leg or two up!

Joe Biden picks Kamala Harris as his running mateBREAKING: Joe Biden has named Kamala Harris as his running mate, making the California senator the first Black and South Asian American woman to run on a major political party's presidential ticket I’m here for it Yessss yesss “...and that little black girl grew up to be your Veep.”

Joe Biden Picks Senator Kamala Harris as Vice Presidential Running MateJoe Biden's pick for his vice presidential running mate is Kamala Harris. Someone alert Maureen Dowd. Let’s smoke some pot and listen to music that hasn’t been recorded yet We already knew, on account of all the plastic surgery or botox she got recently

Joe Biden Picked Kamala Harris to Be His Vice Presidentit's happening Hooray! The candidate who dropped out before a single vote was cast due to lack of interest is almost certainly the perfect choice! Awesome pick!

Joe Biden selects Kamala Harris as his running mateIf elected, Sen. Harris would be the nation’s first female, first Black and first Asian American vice president. Proud to be alive to see a black and Asian American woman finally break the glass ceiling,hopefully this will open up doors to more minority women. And her spouse would be the first Jewish spouse to a Vice President or President. Great happenings.