From now until Nov. 3 we're going to be seeing a lot more of California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate, than we are of the masked presidential candidate himself, who remains locked down in his basement in Wilmington, Del. As my friend and fellow columnist Jim Hartman wrote last week, "Biden is hidin'."
Harris, 55, is much younger than the 77-year-old Biden and much more dynamic on the campaign trail. You can expect her to be the public face of the elderly and sometimes confused former vice president for the next 2 1/2 months. She'll be answering tough questions on Sunday morning shows like "Meet the Press" and "Fox News Sunday" while Biden avoids questions by reading prepared statements from his basement TV studio.
The conservative Wall Street Journal said African/Asian-American Sen. Harris "fits progressive party requirements" because "she's a woman, a minority, and a progressive who has moved left as the Democratic Party has." The Journal cautioned, however, that Harris "washed-out quickly" as a presidential candidate despite being "a media favorite as the candidate from central casting."
She certainly is a loquacious and photogenic media favorite. The liberal New York Times ran a front-page banner headline proclaiming that "Harris Joins Biden Ticket, Achieving a First," accompanied by three major stories on page one. By contrast, when President Trump chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate in 2016, the Times ran the story in the lower right corner of the front page headlined "Unbending Conservative." This is a prime example of a partisan political agenda in the newsroom of a once-great American newspaper.
Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley, an African-American, said the choice of Harris as Biden's running mate raises the question of whether "blunt appeals to gender and race still animate the American electorate" the way they did when former Vice President Walter Mondale chose New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate in 1984. Today, the Democratic Party is all about "identity politics," no doubt about it. Most Democrats seem to believe that gender and race are much more important than actual qualifications.
Let's face the facts: Harris is running with Biden because she's a black woman, not because of her outstanding achievements in Congress. More qualified Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts never had a chance because they're white.
Many liberal Democrats will argue that Harris' outstanding achievement was to trash conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "She was one of the nastiest questioners of Kavanaugh, a high bar," the Wall Street Journal opined. She'll "be delighted to brawl with Donald Trump" on the campaign trail while Biden remains in his basement.
The aforementioned Journal editorial recalled that Harris played the race card against Biden in one of last year's debates among Democratic presidential hopefuls when she "distorted the history of forced busing in the 1970s. The jab scored oohs and aahs from media judges, but its demagoguery was blatant."
COVID-19 gives Biden a convenient excuse to stay home while Harris answers tough questions on the campaign trail. The virus also creates an uphill reelection battle for our 74-year-old president, who trails Biden in all major national polls due mostly to his erratic handling of the coronavirus pandemic. For starters, he could learn to pronounce "Yosemite" and "Thailand." Clue: It's not "yo-Semite" and "Thigh-land." Sorry, couldn't resist.
So Harris will be the public face of Biden while our egocentric president continues to embarrass himself and our country. Help!
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal's senior political columnist.