Thursday, May 16, 2019

It's About Woman

At a campaign rally Monday in Hampton, New Hampshire

Shirley Sylvester, a retired project manager from Hampton, said she believed that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss demonstrated that the country “wasn’t ready for a woman.” And while she said she likes South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), she fears that the country isn’t ready for a gay man, either.

“Joe’s the only one that can give Trump a run for his money,” she said. “After having Donald Trump in office, a lot of even the Republicans will want to go back to just where we were before we became this country that we are now.”

Mindy Musumeci, a construction contractor who, along with her husband Jim, drove up from Bentley, Massachusetts, to see Biden in Hampton, offered a similar assessment.

“I feel like the country is broken right now. And we need somebody who can win and then heal it,” she said.

Asked for her opinion of her home-state Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Musumeci responded, “I like Elizabeth Warren and this is really hard for me to say as a woman, but I just don’t think the U.S. is ready for a woman president.”

Maybe it is Mindy Musumeci and Shirley Sylvester, rather than the country, who aren't ready for a female president.

Or maybe it's another contingent, as we learned yesterday from Politico:

Kamala Harris used humor to swat aside the chatter about her becoming Joe Biden’s running mate: Maybe it should be the other way around, she said Wednesday, given Biden’s experience in the No. 2 job.

But inside her campaign and among allies, such talk is not a laughing matter. They're rankled by the suggestion, privately venting that it’s demeaning to a woman of color and perpetuates an unfair critique that she’s somehow not prepared for the job she’s actually seeking.

"It's infuriating," a Harris confidant fumed several days before the idea began taking hold in the media.

Since then, the chorus of Democrats sizing up her run and concluding she’d be perfect as Biden’s running mate has rapidly gone from whisper campaign to national narrative. They include some fans of the California senator: Last week, members of the influential Congressional Black Caucus floated Biden and Harris as a “dream ticket.” That put her in the uncomfortable spot of trying to delicately push back on it without offending the group, of which she’s a member.

Talk of a Biden-Harris ticket more than half a year before the first vote is cast is foolish. A candidate who is ultimately unsuccessful but racked up a lot of popular support on the way to Charlotte 2020 may be the obvious choice for the second spot. And it is probably 22-24 months before it becomes clear who that individual is.  It may be Harris, Pete Buttigieg or anyone- even Joe Biden.

But it also is condescending and offensive, as the Harris camp recognizes. And as it realizes, it need be careful about fingering the culprit.

Three days before observing reaction of the Harris camp, Politico had reported

Some black lawmakers are agonizing over whether to back Biden or two members of the close-knit caucus — Sens. Harris and Cory Booker — who also are vying for the White House, according to interviews with a dozen CBC members.

But with the former vice president jumping out to a huge, if early, lead in the polls, several CBC members are warming to the idea of a Biden-Harris ticket to take on President Donald Trump.

“That would be a dream ticket for me, a dream ticket!” said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). “If she is not the nominee, that would be a dream ticket for this country.”

Wet dreams of installing Harris as #2 are interesting, given that not she but Bernie Sanders currently is second to Biden in national polls of Democrats. (Harris, Warren, and Buttigieg seem to be neck-and-neck for #3 nationally.)

It's curious also given that at this stage- May of 2012- twelve years ago, Hillary Clinton was the favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Of the eight polls taken during the first two weeks of that month, Hillary Clinton led Barack Obama by two points in one- and by a substantial amount in the other seven.

Yet, there was no talk then of "Clinton-Obama." There is, however, talk now of "Biden-Harris," at least by the Congressional Black Caucus. (Below: Harris is right; also, not ready for the question.)

The reason is obvious. Such speculation is patronizing toward the trailing candidate- and undermines her effort to be considered for the top job. It helps shape perception of voters to a desired outcome. (Think Donald Trump's early and frequent complaints of a Mueller "witch hunt.")

This is being done to Kamala Harris, member of an ethnic minority and a woman.  It was not done to Barack Obama, member of an ethnic minority but a man. (Some prefer colored person/"person of color," which finally became unacceptable 40-50 years ago but has returned.)

The difference obviously is gender. One was (well, still is) a man and the other is a woman.  The Congressional Black Caucus, as well as others which might follow its lead, should check its values at the door.

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