Survivor Politics: Kamala Harris’ Ambush of Joe Biden

The way to the White House for the herd of Democrat contenders goes through Joe Biden and Kamala Harris showed she knows that in the so-called debate Thursday.  I say “so called” because these shows bear more resemblance to the TV show Survivor than to a debate.  There is no time for any real debate, only for zingers.  The whole point is to survive to the next round which means others must be weakened while you impress.

Congressman Eric Swalwell is a good example of a loser in that his zingers fell flat, so the minimal support he has drummed up so far is destined to become minimaler.

In contrast Harris was impressive throwing Biden for a loop.  Several articles noted much planning went into this, including one generated by the LA Times.  But Harris also was a bit lucky.  When the race issue came up and a moderator tried to reign her in, she made clear as the only black person on the stage she was not going to be shut up, and she wasn’t.  She played that race card masterfully.

This gave her the chance to focus on statements Biden made back in the 1970’s opposing some forms of busing – it’s complicated but Harris made it simple, Biden was anti-busing and that was bad……..   And – surprise, surprise – nobody knew the value of busing better than she, one who actually was bused and obviously benefited from it.  Another trump card well played.

While the show was still going on her staff were tweeting pictures of her, the little black girl who already looked determined.  Soon they were selling T-shirts with the picture, too.  Frankly I thought that was all too cute by half, so blatantly showing how well they planned this hit job.  And what a hit job it was.  But I hear her campaign pulled in two million dollars after the show, and the polls figure to show a nice bump up, so she was the winner all right.

And Biden needs to regroup.  After the debate he bemoaned being mischaracterized and wished he would have been able to talk about the future.  The downside of having such an impressive resume with 40 years in politics, is there is plenty to pick at as Kamala Harris illustrated last Thursday in her time travel back to the 70s.

Biden is in a tough spot.  Being defensive is a bad look, but with so many other candidates attacking him, it is hard to avoid that response and point to the future.

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P. S. –  While what I wrote above may look like a hit job on Ms. Harris, it is actually complimentary.  Part of her campaign is as former prosecutor she will be the one to prosecute Donald Trump.  It was risky to attack popular front runner good old Joe, but  the attack was well planned and well performed and it worked.  She showed a combination of skills suggesting she could take on bully boy Trump if given the chance.

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Thoughts about the Democratic Primary Food Fight so Far

First of all, nobody stole the show in last night’s first “debate” in my opinion.  Other than Elizabeth Warren, those doing best in the polls battle tonight, so she was the favorite in the betting, so to speak.   As such, she had the most to lose, and I think she held up well enough.

This is mostly a wait and see for me.  Wait and see who the polls show got a bump and who got a trip, like to stumble.   The long shot candidate that caught my eye (as well as that of my friend Tom located at a separate viewing site) was Tulsi Gabbard.  She had a confident presence on the stage, especially when Middle East policy came up. Deployed twice in the area when in the National Guard, the Hawaii congresswoman looked formidable despite only getting about seven minutes of talk time (Cory Booker got the most, 10 minutes).

I wanted to hear more from her, which wasn’t my reaction to most.

As it turns out, the sample size impressed by Gabbard was much larger than Tom and I.   According to Fox News she was the most googled of the candidates nationally after the show, while Warren had been most googled prior to the performance.

Another point of interest was how much more male candidates interrupted others to speak.    That gave the boys more speaking time, which prompted David Leonardt of the New York Times to criticize the panelists for letting the men get away with it.

It makes me ponder how much we interpret rudeness and bullying as strength (anybody in particular come to mind?)  I also wonder how Kamala Harris, a former district attorney not shy to interrupt, will handle that tonight.

As for this evening’s round of candidate promos, Charlie Sykes, a conservative with a conscience, sums up the likely plot with admiral succinctness:

“This is Joe Biden’s debate and race to lose.   He must come off not doddering, not vague and not defensive.”

Elizabeth Warren’s Candidacy Reconsidered

Senator Elizabeth Warren has been rising in the polls  and now challenges Bernie for 2nd behind Biden.  I took a couple of swipes at her in my April 22 post, but she has risen in my estimation as well.

She still comes off as a know-it-all scold, reminding a friend of mine of his mother.   But she is an authentic scold, intensely expressing her plans, of which there are many, to any gathering who will listen.  Being authentic is particularly important to disaffected voters.  And she is that.

Trump is authentically a liar and a bully, but his core supporters do not really mind because they believe he is their liar and bully.   Perhaps the Dems need a well organized scold, who in contrast to Trump, offers a clear sense of right and wrong and focuses on the future rather than the past.

You can see Warren believes in a transformation of the American economy in the direction of spreading the wealth more fairly and her plans galore are integrated in a fashion.  She deeply wants to change America, but she wants to reform capitalism, not abandon it, which draws an important line between her and many progressives.

The wisdom of her plans is debatable, but they give us something to engage with as opposed to Trump’s inflated or just made up boasts.  The primary funding option for all of her proposed plans is largely a wealth tax on the very wealthy.  That could be legally problematic for one thing.  But again that can be debated.

She has more plans and arguments to support them than her Democratic rivals, and I think her details contrast well with Trump’s empty boasts and other distortions of reality.

She is relentless in expressing her views and I can imagine her handling Trump in a debate, her plans vs. Trump’s boasts and personal attacks.  As she describes it, she comes from a family that was teetering “on the ragged edge of the middle class”.  Contrast that with Trump, who was given hundreds of millions by his father and, according to the New York Times, lost much of  it.

Certainly she would not be intimidated by the bully.  And her message definitely points to the future in stark contrast with Trump’s return to a romanticized past.  Basically a white man’s America.

While I have yet to warm up to Warren, I have come to appreciate her as a force.  And a force for good as opposed to despicable Don….

She might become an acquired taste.


P. S. – One of my concerns about Warren is that her zealotry might prevent useful compromises with Republicans.  So, I looked around for information on how she has performed in the Senate.  I found this article from the AP which gives a good picture of how well she and other Democratic hopefuls have worked with Republicans in the Senate.

She has co-sponsored bills with Republicans 39% of the time, beaten only by Amy Clobature with 50%.  This should be good news for more moderate Democrats and independents.

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Get Mueller to Testify and Then Let’s Consider Impeachment

I still stick with Speaker Polosi’s insistence on a slow go to impeach Trump believing, like her, that first more Americans need to be persuaded of Trump’s unfitness for the presidency before they will favor impeachment.

Ari Melber, one of the sharper analysts at MSNBC, got to the heart of the awareness problem:  He has said:  “Mueller brought a book to a twitter fight.”  The four-word tweet has won the battle of narratives over the painstaking 448 pages of the book.  In a world of mind numbing information, we gravitate towards the simplest “truths”.

To combat Trump’s distorted mantra of “no collusion, no obstruction” it is essential for Special Counsel Mueller to testify before Congress.  Even if he just reads from his report.  Seeing him actually saying those words is a big step beyond hearing others restate them.  Fairly or not, Mueller’s integrity it rated much higher than the media who cover him.

A book cannot beat a twitter mantra, but TV, or a movie, can at least give the Dems a chance to square the narrative.  Americans want to see the movie rather than read the book.  That’s pretty much what we are as a nation now.  So many distractions, work wise or pleasure wise, that hardly anyone reads serious books anymore.   Including me (except for works of history that read like fiction.)

A TV show still can get our attention, thus the necessity for Mueller to testify on TV.  It would be best if he did so voluntarily, but he has been so adamant about staying clear of politics that he has yet to show that willingness.  He believes the report says everything needed.  He doesn’t seem to see that pointing to a book is no longer the right way to present the report.

The Democratically controlled  House Judicial Committee seems hopeful he will see the necessity for him to reiterate the message publicly, but he might need to be subpoenaed to do so.   I have no doubt he would comply with a subpoena, given his allegiance to law and order, just the opposite of the president.

It would help a lot if McGahn, Trump’s former White House attorney would testify, too.  He is quoted often in the Mueller report describing Trump’s attempts at obstruction and I’d like to hear his voice at least repeating some of it on TV, but so far he has fought a subpoena at Trump’s behest.   Odd, in that Trump has called his quoted statements lies.

Hope Hicks, Trump’s former long time personal assistant is actually supposed to testify to Congress tomorrow, Wednesday, in a closed door session.   But I think she will dodge questions where she can given her closeness to Trump.

Mueller, McGahn and Hicks would make a nice trifecta if they all fully testify, but Mueller is the most important.  Fortunately, he is also the one who can be most counted upon to testify.

I just hope it is sooner rather than later.

Trump is Driving Me Crazy and the Trip gets Shorter each Day

Not exactly, but with all the thoughts he prompts with his outrageous distortions, he produces  outrage fatigue, lying so often and changing his tune so frequently, everything blurs together.  He has taken us past a “post truth” politics to a post reality politics.

If you haven’t been driven totally nuts, you may have noticed how the boy who would be king said in an interview there was nothing wrong with receiving information from foreign agents, it just being more opposition research.

He changed his tune a couple of times at least, after even a couple of Republican senators gently chided Trump for basically saying to all the world, send us your dirt on my opponents.  The last version I heard was his claiming in front of the three nodding heads on Fox and Friends that of course he would notify the FBI, because no one loves America more than he does.

I could go on and on, but that would clearly get me closer to the loony bin and prevent me from writing at all.   I just want to make this point, a suggestion as to how to interpret Trump’s words.   Whatever he says, just flip it to the opposite.   So, when Trump says “no one loves America more” than he does, just switch the “more ” to “less”.

He cares so much about himself, there can’t be much love left for the rest of us.

And when he says “believe me”, as he often does, translate it into “don’t believe me”.  And if he says it twice, really don’t believe him.  When he says he has solved a problem, it really is he hasn’t solved the problem:  he just wants us to think so, like in the case of North Korea and its nukes.   Remember how he said after that first meeting with his bosom buddy Kim Jung Un that we could sleep easier because the nuclear threat was gone?

Not only is it not gone, it is undiminished, and is likely even stronger.  But no problem, president deranged Don still believes in Kim Jung Un, and his own ability to sway him.

I just can’t wait till he tells us how he has solved the Iran problem.