Please do not misconstrue what I’m about to say here – and, trust me, you will – I am not saying that Kamala Harris is a bad senator, because she isn’t; nor am I saying that she was a bad prosecutor, because she wasn’t. By all accounts, Harris is one of the more capable politicians in Washington and, no doubt, she has a brilliant future ahead of her in the Democratic Party. It’s just that that future doesn’t include a trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not unless she plans on getting a side gig as a White House correspondent.
An awful lot of pundits have been scratching their heads trying to figure out why Harris’s campaign for president never got off the ground. [Even I wrote a piece back in June asking why she wasn’t doing better.] And let’s be honest for a moment: when the best you can do is 4 percent, that’s about as close to grounded as you can get, especially when compared to what Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden are polling at.
Excuses abound from the typical, “lack of name recognition,” to the inane, “racial bias against a strong black woman.” Regarding the latter, if anything, it was Harris who overplayed the race card, twice. The first time came against Biden in that now infamous first debate; the second time came against Buttigieg after the last debate. In both instances, it boomeranged badly on her. As far as the former goes, prior to getting into the race, most people in the country had no idea who Pete Buttigieg was, let alone that he was the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Hell, it took me almost two months before I was able to pronounce his last name correctly. Even now, when I type it in I have to spell check it just to make sure I didn’t screw it up.
The simple truth is that Harris ran a lousy campaign. Period. It happens. In a field that started with more candidates than a hockey team has players, Harris never did the two things required of every candidate: make her case to the voters and define where she stood on the issues. Seriously, “For the People?” Who came up with that slogan? As far as the issues were concerned, she was all over the map. First she was for Medicare for All. Then when she got pushback, she changed her position and opted for a ten-year phase in period. As a sitting U.S. senator, Harris should’ve known full well that in a town like Washington committing to next week is a stretch, much less ten years. Watching Harris attempt to thread whatever needle she thought she needed to thread was like watching a suspect in a murder investigation trying to come up with an alibi after he confessed to the killing. If Harris had been this incompetent during her tenure as California Attorney General, half the prison population of the state would be out on the streets.
There are those who’ll say I’m being way too harsh here. Actually, in light of the enormity of the task that lies ahead for whoever eventually wins this race / marathon / confab, I think I’m being more than fair enough. The biggest concern I had going into this election was that Democrats would do what Republicans did back in 2016: turn the whole process into a clown show. And that’s pretty much what the DNC did.
Look, I get it. All of these candidates, with the exception of Marianne Williamson, are more qualified to be president than Trump. So what? My father, God rest his soul, was more qualified. Half the damn planet is more qualified. Just because you have an incompetent man child in the Oval Office doesn’t give you permission to form a line around the block looking to unseat him. A field of four or five would’ve done the trick. You want in? Fine, you need to be at 4 percent or more BEFORE the first debate. And that’s 4 percent in at least three polls that are recognized as reputable. Then for the second and third debates the threshold could’ve been raised to 5 and 6 percent respectively. That would’ve thinned out the herd real quick.
Think about what we could’ve had with just four or five people on the debate stage. We could’ve had a real discussion on the issues, instead of the comic relief that’s taken place. Here we are two months out from Iowa and we’re still trying to figure out who will qualify for the next debate. Only Democrats could fuck up what should be a slam dunk.
The only consolation for Harris is that she won’t have long to wait before others join her. My gut tells me that Cory Booker will be the next candidate to bow out. Like Harris, he’s had a problem getting any traction in this crowded field. And also like Harris, he’s another closet centrist who desperately wants people to believe he’s more liberal than he really is. As mayor of Newark, his “tough on crime” stance earned him high praise from many in the business community. But it also earned him a sharp rebuke from the African American community that felt targeted by an overly aggressive police force. Rather than defend his record, however, he ran from it and, to no one’s surprise, the voters didn’t fall for it. Good for them and unfortunate for Booker.
Now that Harris has suspended her campaign and Booker and Julian Castro are on the verge of not qualifying for the next debate, there are those who are accusing the DNC of rooting out candidates of color in an attempt to curry favor with white, blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt states. Yeah, right, Democrats are racists because they have standards and are willing to enforce them. Spare me! We already have a commander in chief who traffics in conspiracy theories; he doesn’t need any help in that department.
Throughout history there have been good candidates and there have been bad candidates. Here’s how you can tell them apart. The good candidates usually win.