Biden strikes out with Harris, the least-worst of his choices

Poor Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 MORE. This is his third try, but the progressive wing of his party painted him into a narrow, no-win corner with the demand that his vice presidential pick be a woman of color. While it’s clear that most Americans would agree that it’s time for a female president or vice president, Biden found himself forced to pick from a pool of women who were either too radically progressive, too inexperienced to become president, or simply unable to help attract more votes to the Biden candidacy. 

During the 2020 Democratic primary, the party was unable to produce a single strong, capable female national leader. Of the 3,979 delegates committed during the primaries, the Democrats voted to give only 60 of those delegates to the female candidates. After running a particularly disorganized and chaotic campaign, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump and Biden vie for Minnesota | Early voting begins in four states | Blue state GOP governors back Susan Collins Kamala Harris: Black Americans have been 'disproportionately harmed' by Trump Biden town hall draws 3.3 million viewers for CNN MORE (D-Calif.) dropped out, netting zero votes and zero delegates, and was neither popular nor considered politically viable. 

Biden gets nothing from picking her as his running mate. He already has a lock on progressives, a lock on a good portion of the African American vote, pretty good odds with female voters, and a lock on California. Biden had a huge opportunity to pick a strong VP candidate who could add to his appeal and vote count, but there were none. The only potential female VP candidate  who might have added significantly more voters and political excitement to the Biden ticket was former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaNational Urban League, BET launch National Black Voter Day The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon MORE, but she apparently didn't want to run (or didn’t want to run with Joe Biden).

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The bottom line is that Harris may be simply the least-worst of the choices that the radical left presented to Biden to avoid major blowback from diehard supporters of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security MORE (I-Vt.), but Harris is so inconsistent that her selection still may cause many of these voters to sit this one out

Most importantly, Biden himself has indicated there’s a reasonable chance that Harris might suddenly assume the presidency if he wins and cannot serve out his term. Harris will now get extraordinary scrutiny. As with the primaries, she may again wilt and self-destruct.

First, Harris must deal with Biden’s endless stream of racial slurs: the reference to Barack Obama running for the White House as “the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean” — it is only a matter of time before Biden says something similarly awkward about Harris; his deeply insensitive comment that Republicans will “put y’all back in chains”;  the recent references to “not Black enough”; the reference to lack of diversity of thought in the Black community; the verbal attack on a Black reporter, in which Biden asked, “Are you a junkie?” 

Biden gets a pass from progressives and many in the mainstream media because he’s running against President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE. But having Harris on the same podium suddenly magnifies these insults and “gaffes.” Even Harris herself attacked Biden’s seemingly racist vote on busing during one of the primary debates. Now the spotlight is on her to deflect his clear racial blunders.

Next, Harris needs to deal with Biden’s sexual misconduct allegations. They have faded, but choosing Harris brings it all back because of her previously expressed support: “I believe them.”

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Next, Harris needs to deal with the sustained burning and looting of American cities by the progressive left. Trump will defend “law and order” and there will be powerful optics with burning buildings in the background. One of Harris’s strongest credentials might have been her previous law enforcement positions, but they were destroyed by the Democrats’ tolerance of riots and Harris’s shift to anti-police politics. 

Harris needs to overcome her California heritage. She was part of a radical Democratic leadership team in Sacramento that oversaw the highest income taxes in the country (over 12.3 percent, while New Jersey, by comparison, is 10.75 percent and the rest of the states are under 10 percent). Biden wants new, sky-high taxes and Harris knows how to drive that. 

The extreme environmentalists in Harris’s Sacramento declared a drought and then diverted a trillion gallons of fresh water from California’s families and farms and dumped it into the San Francisco Bay. They set wind and solar energy quotas, eventually bankrupting the largest utility. Harris’s Sacramento mismanaged forest management and the urban development that provided the fuel that turned annual wildfires into record killers. 

Harris and her California colleagues oversaw the destruction of San Francisco and Los Angeles with lax law enforcement. Harris and her colleagues oversaw the California open border and sanctuary city policies that allowed undocumented immigrants to take jobs from Blacks, Hispanic citizens and women. Harris was a leader in a state that is seeing massive out-migration because of its disastrous policies. 

As California’s former chief law enforcement officer and current U.S. senator, Harris is firmly tied to all of this. As vice president, Harris would join House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Ginsburg successor must uphold commitment to 'equality, opportunity and justice for all' Bipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Pelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg MORE (D-Calif.) to form a radical, California-based national leadership team. Along with Biden’s recent alliance with Sanders, this suggests that Biden is willing to bet America is so anti-Trump that the nation is ready to accept the California version of radical, progressive politics. 

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Finally, Harris needs to overcome herself. Her nomination flipped Biden’s winning election narrative. Suddenly, the election is not about Trump anymore. Now, with Harris as  “president-in-waiting,” deeper questions arise about her shifting positions on everything from health care to the environment, her failure to be an effective leader and run a competent national campaign, and Harris’s deep and fundamental differences with Biden.

Admittedly, Biden was cornered and had no good choices. But Harris may be his worst.

Grady Means is a writer (GradyMeans.com) and former corporate strategy consultant. He served in the White House as a policy assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Follow him on Twitter @gradymeans1.