Kamala Harris: Victim in chief

Kamala Harris is not so much the anti-Trump as she is bizarro Trump.  The consensus winner of Thursday's debate, she did so by playing to her strengths — that is, her sex and racial identity. 

Like Trump, Harris is a bully.  Trump is the old-fashioned-type bully from the schoolyard, a big kid who commands attention and has playful but derogatory nicknames for all his lessers.  Harris represents the modern bully: a kid who commands attention by playing the victim and who hurls forceful accusations of abusive behavior against other kids, adults, or anyone who gets in the way. 

She played that role to a tee on Thursday, with Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden as her primary target.  In a clearly planned and deliberate attack on the former vice president, Harris essentially accused Biden of hurting her feelings by negotiating forty years ago with a couple of segregationist fellow senators.  Then, to make clear that it wasn't just her feelings as a fifty-something woman (and U.S. senator herself) that were hurt, she claimed that the forced busing that Biden opposed would have kept her from being sent to a better school as a child, by implication hurting little Kamala, too. 

Biden tried to keep his cool and even responded rationally (a rarity in either Democratic debate) by pointing out that he didn't oppose busing per se, only federally forced busing.  But of course that means Biden sorta-kinda believes in the Constitution — booooooo!  Realizing that his defense, sensible though it might have been, was going nowhere in a hall filled with leftists who like the Constitution about as much as Kipling's "White Man's Burden," he did something otherwise unprecedented.  He shut himself up, noting he'd run out of time.

Just in case anybody in the audience didn't get it, Harris also pointed out that she was the only person of color on the stage Thursday.  Going Thursday was a good bit of luck for her, since she avoided having to share the stage with Corey Booker.  Booker had to share the stage with a Hispanic (Julián Castro), a fake Hispanic (Robert O'Rourke), a one-quarter Samoan (Tulsi Gabbard), and a 1/1,024 Cherokee (Elizabeth Warren).  By contrast, Harris faced only a Jew (Bernie Sanders), which doesn't count; an Asian (Andrew Yang), which doesn't count; and a gay white guy (Pete Buttigieg), which counts, but not in the color category. 

The Washington Post declared Harris the winner of the debate, noting that many underestimate her political acumen, and that is probably true.  She took her obvious qualities as a Democratic candidate (sex, racial identity, and combativeness) and added victimhood, a masterful stroke. 

Victimhood is something Democrats prize, but it is something even Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton shied away from.   

Obama couldn't play the victim.  His own self-regard prevented that.  Anyway, he'd had a privileged upbringing by any standard, growing up in Hawaii, attending an exclusive private academy, and basically getting everything he'd wanted throughout his life.  Personally, he could not claim that his "blackness" ever substantially hurt him.  Instead, he stood as avatar for other African-Americans, a role many in that community complained he did not adequately fill.  

Nor did Hillary much claim victimhood as a woman.  She did now and again, but like most of her poses, it didn't sit well with the public because it was so inauthentic.  That's partly because the one way in which she was truly a victim, as the cuckolded wife of a philandering husband, was the one thing she could not play up, lest she forfeit her primary political asset. 

Harris has no such qualms.  There is little doubt that her identity as an African-American woman (of partial South Asian descent, to boot) has been a tremendous asset to her, from university and law school admissions through her legal career and into politics.  But acknowledging this is verboten on both sides of the aisle.  On the contrary, the assumption has to be that she persevered in a racist world despite her identity, not because of it.  Her invocation of the little African-American child being bused to a better school over the protests of Joe Biden did that rather brilliantly. 

I've thought from the beginning that Harris has to be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination despite what polls may say now.  Barring a serious misstep, she's likely to be Trump's opponent next year. 

A Trump-Harris debate would be entertainment for the ages.

Kamala Harris is not so much the anti-Trump as she is bizarro Trump.  The consensus winner of Thursday's debate, she did so by playing to her strengths — that is, her sex and racial identity. 

Like Trump, Harris is a bully.  Trump is the old-fashioned-type bully from the schoolyard, a big kid who commands attention and has playful but derogatory nicknames for all his lessers.  Harris represents the modern bully: a kid who commands attention by playing the victim and who hurls forceful accusations of abusive behavior against other kids, adults, or anyone who gets in the way. 

She played that role to a tee on Thursday, with Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden as her primary target.  In a clearly planned and deliberate attack on the former vice president, Harris essentially accused Biden of hurting her feelings by negotiating forty years ago with a couple of segregationist fellow senators.  Then, to make clear that it wasn't just her feelings as a fifty-something woman (and U.S. senator herself) that were hurt, she claimed that the forced busing that Biden opposed would have kept her from being sent to a better school as a child, by implication hurting little Kamala, too. 

Biden tried to keep his cool and even responded rationally (a rarity in either Democratic debate) by pointing out that he didn't oppose busing per se, only federally forced busing.  But of course that means Biden sorta-kinda believes in the Constitution — booooooo!  Realizing that his defense, sensible though it might have been, was going nowhere in a hall filled with leftists who like the Constitution about as much as Kipling's "White Man's Burden," he did something otherwise unprecedented.  He shut himself up, noting he'd run out of time.

Just in case anybody in the audience didn't get it, Harris also pointed out that she was the only person of color on the stage Thursday.  Going Thursday was a good bit of luck for her, since she avoided having to share the stage with Corey Booker.  Booker had to share the stage with a Hispanic (Julián Castro), a fake Hispanic (Robert O'Rourke), a one-quarter Samoan (Tulsi Gabbard), and a 1/1,024 Cherokee (Elizabeth Warren).  By contrast, Harris faced only a Jew (Bernie Sanders), which doesn't count; an Asian (Andrew Yang), which doesn't count; and a gay white guy (Pete Buttigieg), which counts, but not in the color category. 

The Washington Post declared Harris the winner of the debate, noting that many underestimate her political acumen, and that is probably true.  She took her obvious qualities as a Democratic candidate (sex, racial identity, and combativeness) and added victimhood, a masterful stroke. 

Victimhood is something Democrats prize, but it is something even Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton shied away from.   

Obama couldn't play the victim.  His own self-regard prevented that.  Anyway, he'd had a privileged upbringing by any standard, growing up in Hawaii, attending an exclusive private academy, and basically getting everything he'd wanted throughout his life.  Personally, he could not claim that his "blackness" ever substantially hurt him.  Instead, he stood as avatar for other African-Americans, a role many in that community complained he did not adequately fill.  

Nor did Hillary much claim victimhood as a woman.  She did now and again, but like most of her poses, it didn't sit well with the public because it was so inauthentic.  That's partly because the one way in which she was truly a victim, as the cuckolded wife of a philandering husband, was the one thing she could not play up, lest she forfeit her primary political asset. 

Harris has no such qualms.  There is little doubt that her identity as an African-American woman (of partial South Asian descent, to boot) has been a tremendous asset to her, from university and law school admissions through her legal career and into politics.  But acknowledging this is verboten on both sides of the aisle.  On the contrary, the assumption has to be that she persevered in a racist world despite her identity, not because of it.  Her invocation of the little African-American child being bused to a better school over the protests of Joe Biden did that rather brilliantly. 

I've thought from the beginning that Harris has to be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination despite what polls may say now.  Barring a serious misstep, she's likely to be Trump's opponent next year. 

A Trump-Harris debate would be entertainment for the ages.