Thursday, July 30, 2020

Kamala Harris or Susan Rice? The Veepstakes Appears To Have Kicked Out Two Truly Terrible Choices


Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, reportedly one of the last of Joe Biden's finalists for Vice President

by Thomas Neuburger

Events on the VP selection front are moving quickly, and so far, it appears from all I can gather (private conversations, news stories, tea leaves left in news stories), that the choice is between Kamala Harris and Susan Rice.

These are two terrible choices, to be clear, neither of them like the Elizabeth Warren of some people's dreams or the Tammy Baldwin of some others. But if we must have a terrible VP choice, these are among the very worst pick from. Both are women and people of color, so each checks those high priority boxes. Beyond that, though, each brings a different set of highly undesirable qualities to the table. Let's take a brief look.

Two Bad Choices

Kamala Harris, former San Francisco District Attorney and CA Attorney General, was by the account of several lawyers in my acquaintance, one of the worst DAs and AGs in the country.

In addition to all the bad deeds that have been made public recently — prosecuting parents for their children's school truancies; jailing marijuana users, then laughing about using the drug herself when it became to her advantage to do so; and the fact that she "repeatedly and openly defied U.S. Supreme Court orders to reduce overcrowding in California prisons while serving as the state’s attorney general" — there's the little-known 2010 evidence-tampering scandal that resulted in the dismissal of over 1,000 of her DA office's prior court cases due to tainted chain of evidence, and the fact that Harris and her office failed to reveal this problem until the story came out.

Because of this mismanagement, was forced to dismiss a great many cases "in which convictions had been obtained and sentences were being served." In what was called a "scathing decision," Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo wrote in May 2010 that Harris "failed to disclose information that clearly should have been disclosed."

Lawyers will say it's a lawyer's job to know the validity of her chain of evidence and also to disclose any problems with that evidence to defendants. Harris did none of those things, preferring to let those already convicted and serving time to languish in jail rather than reveal a politically damaging failing of her office.

Another Harris negative: She failed to win California, her home state, and in fact was forced to drop out before a truly embarrassing showing in the primary. (If I recall correctly, she was polling close to 3% nationally as the primary approached.) Even though California isn't a must-compete state for Biden, since he'll most likely win it comfortably, Harris's lack of pull is national.

Less is known about Susan Rice, and that may be points in her favor. But if she's the VP pick, people will get to know her quickly — and learn to not like her just as fast. To summarize the reports I've seen, she has no political background or instincts, a chilly and aloof "I know better than you" personal manner, absolutely no domestic policy experience or identifiable positions, and a "love of war" foreign policy stance.

In other words, Rice is the exact opposite of an excellent choice — a person without political skill, possessed of Obama's hauteur with none of his charm, and who views the outside world through a Hillarist neocon lens. 

She's also, from as much as I can gather, the most likely pick. Not only do rumors favor her, but there are now reports that people in Biden's circle are strongly opposed to Harris, in part because "she's too ambitious and ... will be solely focused on eventually becoming president." 

Those who argue this would be right. Ambition is the only star Kamala Harris sails by. Which leaves us with Rice, unless a surprise is in the offing.

And An Opportunity

I want to close with a personal note. Given that...

a) No good VP choice will be made by the current deciders, and that

b) This race may not be winnable by the Republicans under any circumstance save a midnight visit to the White House by the Ghost of Donald's Future

...I think the very worst choice for VP may harbor the very best outcome for progressives. More on that later, but if so, it looks like we may have quite a promising opportunity ahead of us.

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At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing with Kamala Harris is that she is a political hack -- a complete weathervane. In terms of achieving near-term goals, this may not be the worst thing, provided progressive movements continue to build power. Hacks may not be reliable allies, but they do typically respond to public pressure. Presumably she wants to be president and win re-election. Biden could do much worse, and select a more committed right-wing ideologue -- e.g. right-wingers who are unresponsive to pressure, because they actually are committed to right-wing goals. With Harris I don't think she has any real core beliefs. In a right-wing environment, she will lean towards the right. In a more progressive environment, she may be more progressive. The big issue though is that the people who have hear ear are going to be right-wingers. However, if a bunch of right-wing Dems lose primaries in 2022, she may pivot in advance of 2022. I'm not so sure that would be the case with some of the other names being floated.

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neuberger left out a HUGE issue Californians have with Harris: MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE FRAUD.

For a mere $10k donation for her campaign funds, Steve Mnuchin got to walk away from thousands of felonies and be promoted upward to do the same to the entire nation, beginning this coming weekend.

Heck of a job, Kammy!

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harris may be a weathervane, but that isn't promising when the rest of the party is lead by right-wingers. She isn't going to lead the party to the left if the House and Senate and party apparatchiks are all venal corporatists and former military and deep state shills.

Rice seems to have the political skills of a smarter Dan Quayle, which would potentially clear the field for a more progressive-minded challenger to push her and her lack of charm to the wayside as soon as 2024. The Democrats' only hope at turning the corner and bringing millions of non-voters back into the fold is to get a strong, progressive leader at the top. One who can competently rebuild the party's leadership and take out the trash installed by Pelosi, Hoyer and Schumer. I am not optimistic.

At 12:46 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

The Establishment picked a doozy with these three oh the political pain.

At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon. 12:01 PM this is why the 2022 mid-terms could be so important (obviously the Dems need to win seats as well in 2020 along with the presidency). If incumbents are losing seats in 2022, and feeling more pressure from the left than the right, and this is happening consistently, i do think this will start to shift the calculus for pols going into 2024. The problem right now, is that right-wingers have been pretty effectively cleaning up in Senate primaries in addition to securing the nomination. Progressives have had some quality wins in House races and in state legislative seats, but until there's pressure in those higher offices, business as usual will prevail for the party leadership. I don't think it's going to be a single leader either who turns the tide. I think it's more a question of building up structural power, and having a large cadre of leaders shaping politics both in office and outside of it. e.g. an AOC by herself is easily marginalized -- maybe less so as a Senator, but even as a Senator, she would be limited without having a lot of allies in office. Even a guy like Trump as president, is limited in some ways by the fact that he hijacked the GOP in his 70s, rather than playing a critical role in building up the party and support organizations over years. Elected leaders may fear him for the time being, but most of the hacks in conservative think-tanks and affiliated organizations who actually run the government, aren't wholly dependent on him, and didn't have their careers built by their association with him. Progressives are building up capacity and support structures, but still not to a sufficient degree to carry a candidate through Senate and Presidential primaries. 2024 will be another test. But before that, there's the 2022 cycle and a few more races in 2020.

At 3:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The nation won't survive long enough to achieve a fraction of what 10:25 proposes.

At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

plus 10:25 doesn't see the problem. voters.

if democraps can lie (claim to be progressive) and get elected, only to bow to the pelo$is and scummers (AOC, looking straight at you!) because voters are sooooooo fucking stupid, nothing can ever get better because the candidates are all selected and funded by the pelo$is and scummers, fool the idiots who vote, and then cede tyrannical chamber powers to their chamber tyrants.

To Thomas I would ask: If the pool of veep choices is the whole of the democrap party oligarchy, all candidates must be shit;
if the pool of veep choices is further honed to all democrap oligarch nonwhite females, it's a smaller pool, but the pool is still pure, refined shit.

Observing that the two, evidently, favored picks (that necessarily came out of that smaller pool) are shit is... pedantic.

Among the democrap oligarchy (that are acceptable to the democrap donor list), THERE CAN BE NO GOOD CHOICES.

by definition.

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Ricardo2000 said...

Posing Susan Rice, of all the largest, most self-serving liars, from the Bush Admin that stretched lying for political advantage so far it made Trump inevitable. That the alternative is Harris, again a arrogant, careerist 'lawyer' so creepy she won't even follow the directions of the Supreme Court, reveals the bankrupt, CONservative corporate whore nature of US politics.
The alternative is to take this moment and push as many progressive democrats into office as possible. This way bad law is less likely to slither out of Congress for 'President' Biden to sign.


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