Politico Now Wondering If Kamala Harris Is *Too* Likable To Be President
Kamala Harris's presidential campaign was clipping along nicely. She was introducing herself to voters at packed rallies with overflow crowds. She tried on fierce jackets. She spoke of the joy of dinkie dow. Yet concern-trolling publication Politico wonders if Harris is connecting too well with people.
This is the latest in Politico's series of "What's Wrong with the Lady-Parts-Having Democrat?" non-think pieces. A couple months ago, Politico wondered if Elizabeth Warren's campaign could survive if people like the staff at Politico kept saying she was as "unlikable" as Hillary Clinton. Clinton has won the popular vote in every race she's ran (yes, even the 2008 primary). We should all be so unlikeable. Still, Clinton was a boring policy wonk with no compelling rationale for her campaign other than her many qualifications. Now Warren is too "divisive." Harris is apparently taking a different approach because she's a different person, as we understand women sometimes are. Politico points out the folly in this strategy.
In interviews, two dozen political strategists, elected officials and Democratic activists and voters — most of whom watched Harris' events in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — said she's shown promise as someone who can connect with voters at an emotional level. The excitement she's generating and her profile as a charismatic, mixed-race progressive, they said, is creating a sense that she may be the candidate who best matches the mood of Democratic voters at this moment.
"Mixed-race progressive"? People still say "mixed-race" like they're talking about the offspring of a poodle and a dalmatian? This article's not getting any better from here, is it?
But in her early state debuts, Harris has at times compensated for her lack of precision and detailed policy prescriptions by lapsing into prepared remarks, turning to legislation she supports — even when it indirectly relates to the question — and leaning on anecdotes to connect with audiences.
So, she's like Bill Clinton, but because she's a woman, Politico wants us to think she's basically a moron or, even worse, Sarah Palin. Got it. Male-dominated media consistently tries to "bimbo-ize" women politicians such as Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose "relatability" and dynamic personalities are seen as negatives. Yet Joe Biden's many gaffes launched a thousand cool grandpa memes.
Also, why does Harris have to come up with "specifics" anyway when other candidates can get by with stirring speeches and an "it" factor? Her general election opponent would be Donald Trump, whose stump speech is an assortment of lies, personal insults, and catch phrases. "We will build the wall and Mexico will pay for it" is more drunken rambling than sound policy.
By the time Harris ran for California attorney general in 2009, she did some retail campaigning — hitting churches and barber shops in Los Angeles, for example — but it was mostly confined to occasional weekend appearances. Her reelection and Senate races were cakewalks.
Winning a Senate race is rarely a "cakewalk" in the modern sense of a "surprisingly easy task." Also, why would you ever dismiss the achievements of a black woman with a term whose historical origins refer to a dancing contest among black people where a cake was the prize? The US Senate has just three black members. Harris is the only black woman but, hey, that was just a "cakewalk."
In the past, she's avoided the media and sometimes come off as too programmed.
So, that is a dramatic shift, right? Why are you people never happy?
Politico ends its hit piece with Harris's response to a question about whether she's support eliminating the Senate filibuster. She says she's "conflicted," which is a bad thing apparently to admit. A politician isn't truly ready for prime time unless they make a firm, committal statement that they will later deny. It's not even up to Harris whether the filibuster is nuked because she's running for president not Senate Majority Leader. Go get Schumer on the record about this.
Said Harris: "Sorry, I can't give you more than that right now."
Politico thinks that final quote is the final nail in Harris's coffin because, really, who wants honesty from a woman?
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).