Management has reviewed the application from Kamala Harris, currently a Senator from California.
Positions. Kamala is a liberal with progressive views on subjects that are in the public eye. She supports Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, criminal justice reform, legalization of marijuana, a woman’s right to obtain an abortion, increased pay for teachers, and a moratorium on the death penalty. Her views are similar to most of the serious applicants for President, who also espouse progressive positions. A recent article discusses her stance on a variety of issues.
Background. The daughter of immigrants, Harris has an ethnic and personal profile different from the typical white candidate. Wikipedia offers this summary of her background:
Kamala has shared her personal history with voters throughout her career. As this article notes, her family background has shaped her life and her views. She is a living rebuttal to Trump’s xenophobic view of immigration.
Former Prosecutor. Before running for the Senate, Harris was the District Attorney of San Francisco and then the Attorney General of California. Her record as a prosecutor has been criticized from both the right (she declined to pursue the death penalty for a gang member charged with multiple murders) and the left (she prosecuted the parents of truant students and fought to uphold convictions that were tainted by official misconduct).
Management has two observations. First, the record shows only that when Harris was a prosecutor her approach was prosecutorial. Her job was to seek convictions and to argue that they should be upheld despite evidence of official wrongdoing. Management finds the criticisms of her record to be the flip side of attempts to smear criminal defense attorneys for advocating on behalf of notorious criminals, or seeking to “free a murderer on a technicality.”
Secondly, to the extent that Kamala was charged with making difficult discretionary judgment calls, that was excellent practice for the daily duties of a President.
Fierce Critic of Trump. Harris sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and on several occasions she has questioned witnesses for the Trump administration. It is a joy to watch Kamala Harris cross examine a weasely government witness.
The witness’s plan may be to run out the clock with irrelevant speechifying to avoid answering the question. Kamala does not allow him to get away with it, and is prepared to cut off a meandering non-response with “It’s a yes or no question, sir; did you bring a hula hoop to this hearing, yes or no?” “That isn’t what I asked. It’s a simple question sir, did you or did you not, yes or no, take the cookie from the cookie jar?” “Excuse me, sir, I’ve moved on to a different subject.” One can be forgiven for exclaiming “Yes!” or “Zing!” while watching her fearlessly tackle a foe.
For the most recent example, here is a Kamala evicerating William Barr:
and here she is, gently questioning Kavanaugh:
Foreign Policy. Harris voted in favor of the US ceasing its involvement in the war Yemen, against the appointments of Tillerson and later Pompeo as Secretary of State, and has said that she won’t “conduct foreign policy by tweet.” She opposes Trump’s policies on immigration and has argued that we need to be careful to distinguish between the religion of Islam and the actions of Muslim terrorists. Can’t argue with any of that.
Israel. There exists a tension between America’s historical and ongoing support for Israel and the criticisms of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, it’s incursions into the West Bank, the viability of a two-state solution, etc. Harris has been criticized from the left for, as best management can discern, being insufficiently critical of Israel. On the other hand, any public official who criticises Israel is immediately branded anti-Semitic.
Disclaimer. Darned if I know how to solve The Middle East. Management’s position is that of course we should oppose anti-Semitism and support Israel, and that of course Palestinians have rights and that of course Israel needs to find some solution to the issues associated with its Palestinian population, maybe two states, I don’t know, sounds good but I’m not Secretary of State. Management concludes that Harris’s foreign policy positions are acceptable.
Demographics. Management confesses to lingering bitterness about the appointment of Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, and to a resulting conviction that it was past time for a President who is not a straight white man. Elections are won in the margins and it is likely that Harris’s name on the 2020 ticket would increase turnout among all non-Caucasian population sectors, including African-American, Indians and other Asians, and probably Hispanic voters. On balance, her ethnic background is a plus.
Preliminary Conclusion. Kamala Harris is a strong candidate. Her positions on a variety of issues, her focus on the problems faced by groups that are under attack by the current administration, and her fearless confrontation of opponents all recommend her. Management has decided to invite Harris for a second interview.
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