I should probably not waste time on this, but I was a fan of Kamala Harris. Her ending her candidacy while still in fifth place in the polls and if in a long slide, has me disappointed. As it is, given her declining polls, lack of money, and reportedly internally divided campaign staff; her chances of actually getting the nomination had fallen to effectively zero. It is actually an act of class on her part to get out of the overly crowded Dem field.
In light of the recent sharp decline of Warren as well who is now running #4 among Dems, we now have three white males on top. As it is I confess, I favored both Warren and Harris over all three of them and the rest as well. How is it these problematic three whilte males are on top (I reocgnize that especially supporters of Sanders and Buttiegieg will dispute this and may well show up here to properly correct me and tell us of their virtues, and they as well as Biden do have virtues)?
I am going to put it out there: I think both Warren and Harris, especially the latter, have been held to a higher standard as women and Harris more so as a minority woman, than the white males. They are not allowed to make any errors or even appear to make an error. The white males can bungle and have serious issues, but hey, not a problem, or at least not a fatal problem. They can go on for the next day.
Something that played a role in the decline of both Warren and Harris (and Warren may yet make a comeback) has been their effort to overcome the split among Dems over what to do about health care. Both of them initially, or at least at some point, signed on to the “Medicare-for-all” label for a single payer government run health insurance system that would eliminate all private insurance, following Bernie’s lead from 2016 and maintained now, all of this being part of a fight over who was the “most progresive” candidate. Of course, neither Warren nor Harris could beat Bernie for that title, and Bernie’s true believers have stuck with him, even if his support has not expanded.
As it is, “Medicare-for-all” is a label that is not great if one looks at it closely. That is because, frankly, Medicare by itself sucks. It is crappy coverage. Pretty much everybody actually on Medicare also has supplemental private insurance of some sort as well. So in fact this was a misleasing label for what really should probably be called “Canadian-style single payer.” But this is a minor point.
The more important point was all the polls showing that while a majority says they support “Medicare-for-all” when asked; if one adds “with all private insurance ended,” the support has always plunged. Most people have private insurance and most of them like their insurance or are afraid of losing it. So both Harris first and then Warren tried to deal with this, tried to deal with this, only to fall on both of their faces.
So first it was Harris, saying while she was for Medicare-for-all, she would not immediately abolish private insurance. It was a bomb. Both sides dissed her. Big surprise, same thing happened when Warren and not unreasonably also sought a middle way of going slowly on Medicare-for-all. Ironic as it is, I think both of them took reasonable positions, but they have been political disasters. As it is, I think this internal Dem arguing over this issue is just stupid.
On the matter of Harris, I am now too late to mount a defense of her on the the other matter that she got hurt badly on. Well, a further matter was what put her briefly on top; that her attack on Biden on the race issue in the first debate was overdone and problematic as people came to think about it, and her attack failed to move African Americans away from supporting Biden. But the matter that really hurt her was the attack by Tulsi Gabbard, near the end of the second debate, of her record as a DA and AG, and she never really recovered from that.
Here is where I wish to mount the defense I now feel guilty of not making publicly earlier, especially as I was aware of the response. I think the reason Harris did not respond clearly in the debate is that Gabbard’s attack was filled with so many false or misleading statements that Harris could spontaneously, in the time given, respond to all of them. As it is and in the very next day, Gabbard was shown to be full of it, but that report involved subtleties and complications which was simply not picked up widely. It became unknown, with the publicity being that Gabbard had successfully exposed terrible problems with Harris’s record. She was not perfect, so, bring on the white males!
I have reason to believe I shall not get this link right, but it can be tracked down on Politifact from Aug. 1, 2019: Were Tulsi Gabbard’s attacks on Kamala Harris’ record as a California prosecutor on target?. Even so, let me lay out the points made in it.
So Gabbard made a string of accusations. The one that actually sticks to some extent is that Harris was in a hypocritical position given that she admitted to having smoked pot but was putting pot smokers in jail, while later supporting legalization. Well, of course she was enforcing the law, but apparently there was a dramatic decline in the arrest rate on this during her time as AG, from 817 in the first year down to 137 in the final year. She was accused of not allowing new evidence to be applied for Kevin Cooper. That did happen; but it happened before she was in office, and was done in by people she had no control over. She was accused of supporting the and tightening punishment of famillies, but that was lower level officisls and she made them stop. Another issue involved raising cash bails. This was put in place while she was DA in SF by certain judges for violent crimes. She was not responsible for this and in the Senate supported reducing bail. The bottom line is that almost all of what Gabbard accused her of was either exaggerated or just plain false. But, hey, a black woman cannot make any mistakes.
One positive here is that I think this may raise the chance Harris might become VP nominee. If Warren gets the nomination, it wll not happen: two women is too much. Biden might not pick her, both because he may still be angry over what she did in the first debate and also does not need her to increase his support among African Americans, and he also may need to pick Warren more so to unify with the left wing of the party. But for Both Sanders and Buttigieg and especially the latter, she looks like the obvious VP pick. We shall see.
BTW, one reason I have been for her is I know her dad who is a retired Post Keynesian Stanford economist. Donald J. Harris of Jamaica originally, whom I had in grad school and greatly respect. Ironically he and his daughter fell out during her campaiign over the pot issue, when she jokingly replied to an interviewer,
“Of course I am for pot legalization; I am a Jamaican,” which her old man did not appreciate at all.