By most accounts, the Democratic presidential debates were a dud. The first was dismissed as boring, whereas the second devolved into a gong show.
Nonetheless, at least according to media types, California Sen. Kamala Harris emerged as the candidate to watch.
Aside from attracting positive commentary from these political observers, she was able to raise $2 million in the wake of her performance. Apparently some people who were watching concluded that she was the best choice to become our next chief executive.
Why was that so? The main reason was ostensibly her attack upon former Vice President Joe Biden. She took him to task for praising segregationist senators and for opposing school busing. According to Harris, as a black woman and a beneficiary of the busing, she was deeply offended.
Biden responded in a very measured way that he had not praised late segregationist senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia. He also argued that he had not been opposed to busing, but only a federal law that mandated it. As far as he was concerned, if states and localities instituted this practice he would not object.
Biden was right. He was never in favor of segregation and never buddies with segregationists. His goal was not to promote racism, but to collaborate with folks he disliked on projects that would benefit the nation. He was trying to be reasonable, as opposed to extremist.
So why were Harris’ mischaracterizations of him so warmly embraced? I suggest that it had more to do with her attitude than the content of her charges. She was energized. She was passionate. It clearly looked as if she cared deeply about what she was saying.
Many people like fervor. They associate it with a genuine desire to pursue important objectives. What we were witnessing, however, was calculated anger. Harris is a wrathful person. We also saw this rage come to the surface when she cross-examined Brett Kavanagh in his quest to sit on the Supreme Court. We likewise saw it when she tried to take Jeff Sessions apart during a Senate hearing.
I am not sure why she is angry, but I am sure that her zeal serves as a substitute for genuine understanding. No doubt Harris hates racism. No doubt she also believes in the progressive agenda. But does this add up to accurate insights into how to advance our nation?
Consider two of her schemes. One of the programs she champions is Medicare for all. When asked to explain how this would operate, she did not initially recognize that this would mean stripping most Americans of the health insurance they currently have. Now that she realizes this, however, she is still for a federal takeover.
According to Harris, this would be cheaper than our current system because there would be no middle man and less paperwork. My question is: Has she dealt with any federal agencies. If she has, she should have realized that red tape is their specialty. In short, they are not noted for their efficiency. Witness the Veterans Administration.
Another of idea she supports is reparations. This is supposedly to compensate for the free labor extracted from the slave ancestors of African Americans.
Yet what would this accomplish? I suspect that most whites would feel that they had been fleeced. Given that a majority of Americans do not have slaveholder forebears.
Is this the best way to establish racial harmony? Is this how racial justice will be restored? My guess is that most blacks will be angered by white bitterness. Furthermore, almost no one will be in a mood for a national dialogue that promotes racial understanding.
So why is Harris for reparations when even President Obama was against them? She is plainly a race warrior. Her deep resentments float just behind her warm smile. These antipathies are sure to emerge if she makes it into the final rounds of the Democratic debates.
For the moment, Harris looks good to many people, but I find it hard to believe that eventually she will not alienate many more.