John Nance Gardner once said the office of the Vice-President “wasn’t worth a bucket of warm spit”. He should know, as the man first called “Cactus Jack” was Franklin Roosevelt’s first Vice-President until being tossed over in the 1941 election for Henry Wallace. Amusingly, he said that to Lyndon Johnson, quite possibly the most significant Veep of the 20th Century.
Historically, Gardner has been more or less right. Up until the 12th Amendment was ratified in 1803 the office was awarded to whoever came in second in the Presidential race. Since then, most vice-presidents have served two purposes: casting tie-breaking votes in the Senate and filling in for the President when he dies. Again, see LBJ. They usually have some sort of something to do to advance the President’s agenda, but it’s rarely earth-shaking.
Now, nominating a Vice-President, that’s usually a big deal. Sometimes it’s to solidify the party behind the candidate, arguably the reason George H.W. Bush was chosen as Ronald Reagan’s veep. This helps if the chosen one has a bit of swing in the Senate, like Al Gore with Bill Clinton or Spiro Agnew with Richard Nixon. LBJ got in to seal a deal within the Democratic Party that gave the nomination to John Kennedy.
Along with that, sometimes the veep helps give the Presidential candidate a little gravitas, like Dick “Dark Lord” Cheney for George W. Bush or, arguably, Joe Biden for Barack Obama. If they can bring along a constituency that may be leery of the Presidential candidate, even better. That explains Mike Pence and his anti-abortion creds helping Trump.
So bucket of spit or not, who gets chosen as a Vice-President is usually something that gets political junkies all hot and sweaty waiting for the announcement. It probably didn’t hurt Hilary Clinton much when her choice of Tim Kaine garnered a resounding “eh” from all concerned, but it didn’t help. Once Biden nailed down the nomination for President of the United States, the speculation’s been hot and heavy, especially after he promised he pick a woman. Even so, some lamebrains championed Joe Liberman again.
If nothing else, him choosing Kamala Harris dodged that bullet and it has certainly put the starch in the shorts of political fiends on both sides of the aisle. I wrote in yesterday’s Gibberish why I’m fine, more or less, with Harris as a choice, even somewhat more enthusiastic than I’d be with, say, Susan Rice or Amy Klobachur as qualified as they might be. Granted, that don’t count for much considering it’s, well, me. Anyhow, today we’ll take a look at some of the political ramifications and how the choice is shaking out across the country.
To explore the second stroke first, about like one would expect. The choice does seem to have caught the Trump Administration flat-footed as they’re taking a rather scattershot approach to telling everyone how double-plus-ungood she is, trying to find something that sticks. Trump’s already called her “nasty,” his favorite epithet for women, mostly because she made Brett “Kegger” Kavanaugh cry during his hearing for the Supreme Court seat someone bought him.
That confusion has filtered down the wingnut pipeline, as conservatives, in general, are quite sure what they’ll use yet. They’re trying to pretend it’s a thing that a former Attorney General for the State of California to get on a ticket that will “abolish the police,” and they’re trying to make hay of her past relationship with former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown while she was AG of Alameda County. He wasn’t mayor yet, nor was he married at the time, so despite claims she slept her way to the top, the timeline didn’t add up. They were set to marry, apparently, but they remain good friends and he’s been an enthusiastic supporter.
They’re also trying to drum up some ugliness surrounding her initial support of Tara Reade, who accused Biden of sexual assault earlier this year. The allegations have seemed to have fallen apart, partly due to Reade’s own changing story and near-universal denial by former Biden staffers. In any event, Trump cultists trying to accuse someone else of sexual hypocrisy is extremely friggin’ rich. It doesn’t mean they won’t try, but come on now.
The last thing they’re running with, so far, is pointing out she nailed Biden on the issue of school busing during one of the debates. Again, this is a bit much coming from a party that saw guys like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham speak apocalyptically of Trump before he got the nod to turn around and become loyal boot-lickers as soon as he got in office. He even told Cruz his wife was ugly and he’s still a willing footstool for Trump.
On the soi-disant “Far Left” Bernie Sanders dead-enders, there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth. They trot out the same stuff as the wingnuts, but they throw in accusations of being a cop because of her time as California’s AG under Jerry Brown up until her election to Senate in 2017. There is something there, as she was something of a hard-ass about doing her job and generally kept from shaking things up. One particular rock in the shoe concerns an anti-truancy to-do that looks bad, especially since the folks most affected were African American and Chicano.
While there is cause for concern and questioning, especially given the very poor light law enforcement and justice system has these days, I for one don’t think it’s quite fair to cast her aside because she failed to completely overturn the white supremacist infrastructure in the government of California all by herself in six years time, but there you go. Let’s be honest, though. The dead-enders weren’t going to be happy with anyone and there was no reasonable choice that would have brought them on board. Hell, they’re even mad at Sanders now because he dares work with Biden.
A lot of Never Trumpers are sadly shaking their heads at this choice, bemoaning her radical leftism and wanton hatred of America, the police, white men, Confederate statues, and all things decent. But fuck them, no one really believed shitheads like Erik Erikson or frauds like S.E. Cupp were actually going to vote against Trump. Remember, they may hate his crassness and vulgarity, but they are fine and dandy with his policies.
As for Democrats and people who were going to vote for Biden come hell or high water, well, Harris’ announcement hasn’t moved the needle there much either. For the most part, everyone seems happy and nobody who isn’t lying like cheatin’ husbands in country songs is changing their vote. As I said in yesterday’s Gibberish, she’s probably the best fit for a Biden campaign. He’s hinted that once Trump’s out of office and his first term is through, he won’t run for reelection. I’ll believe an old campaign horse like Biden will call it a day when I see it, to be frank.
However, this is a positive movement in that it pumps some new blood into the Democratic Party leadership, a wizened beast indeed. Harris has been a fairly solid, fairly liberal senator for the past three years. She’s particularly shined when it involves twisting the nuts of people who’re testifying before Congress. Like we note, she made Kavanaugh cry like the third-rate frat boy reject he is, and last week she made William “The Pope” Barr’s bloated, corpulent frame squirm under some heavy examination. One common criticism of the Democrats is their fecklessness, so it’d be nice to have someone in real power grind the GOP under her heal, just for entertainment purposes.
One interesting note is Biden picking Harris has seemed to light a fire under the Democratic faithful when it comes to fundraising. Biden hasn’t really done much fundraising this whole time, compared to past campaigns and especially compared to Trump’s building of his war chest. However, after the announcement of Harris as veep, ActBlue – probably the party’s biggest grassroots money taker – reported they’d drawn in $10.8 million in four hours. The base is rather excited in these early days, turns out.
It’s still a lifetime in politics until November, though, and a whole lot can happen. It’s still up in the air if Trump will have the sack to participate in any debates, but one between Harris and Pence is scheduled for October. Plus there’s the raging epidemic, the battered economy, and the near assurance that both will get worse before they get better to contend with. And that’s just for starters. All sorts of weird doings are floating in the aether.
But this is where we stand on this fine, bright Wednesday morning. For only the third time in modern history, a woman is in the running for Vice-President of the United States. For the first time ever, she’s a person of color and the daughter of immigrants. Her father was Jamaican and her mother was Tamil Indian. Her husband’s Jewish, so that would be a first, as well. As always, I’m just here to observe, record, and maybe do a bit of explaining, that’s all.
I do want Trump out on his ass and the GOP in general ground into a fine powder then fed to catfish, but I hold no illusions about what the Democratic Party is and what their candidates for the highest offices in the land are. If anything, they’re merely trying to keep us dirty plebes from spitting on our hands, hoisting the black flag and slitting some throats. Maybe we’ll see a great change and drastic in health care affordability or something is done about the border that doesn’t make us look like the bad guys in a Wolfenstein game. Maybe not.
Regardless, the game is afoot and things are about to get interesting.