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Kamala Harris Issue

Biden on debate stage
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By: The Editorial Board – wsj.com – June 30, 2024

Imagine if Biden had chosen a Vice President for competence rather than identity politics.

When the Democratic media complex decides on a political question, the unified choreography is something to behold. So it is with the new establishment chorus after Thursday’s debate that President Biden should withdraw his candidacy for a second term. Suddenly, the columnists and editorial pages that denied the truth are sounding like these columns.

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One reason is that they happily covered for White House deceptions. The Democratic press barely questioned Mr. Biden’s limited workday, his reliance on a teleprompter, and his rare unscripted media interviews. “Eighty is the new 40,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last year. “Didn’t you hear?” Ms. Jean-Pierre said in 2022 that Mr. Biden displays such stamina that she, not yet age 50, “can’t even keep up with him.” Conservatives mocked this but the press laughed it off.

When reporters noticed Mr. Biden had started pairing his business suits with dark tennis shoes rather than traditional dress shoes, the speculation was that the footwear was meant to keep him from falling. Deputy press secretary Andrew Bates spun it as a fitness thing. “I know y’all aren’t partial to presidents who exercise,” he told the New York Post, “but don’t worry—you’ll get used to it.”

The Journal’s news pages received similar treatment in June when they carried a story, based on 45 interviews, about Mr. Biden slipping. Gene Sperling, an economic adviser, told reporters it was standard practice for presidents to read from note cards in meetings. Mr. Bates said the story was a “smear” full of politically motivated “false claims,” and that Mr. Biden is a “savvy and effective leader.”

The press rallied around the White House and called the story irresponsible, saying the Journal had fallen for a right-wing, Fox News trope. The folks at Morning Joe on MSNBC were outraged, calling the news article a “false, biased story,” and a “Trump hit piece.”

The New York Times published a long story blaming concerns about Mr. Biden’s frailties on a “distorted, online version of himself, a product of often misleading videos that play into and reinforce voters’ longstanding concerns about his age and abilities.”

Elected Democrats at least have the excuse that they risk their careers if they tell the truth about Mr. Biden. Exhibit A: Dean Phillips. But there’s no excuse for a press corps to deny what two-thirds of the public said they saw with their own eyes. Now, with the looming prospect of defeat to Donald Trump, the liberal media establishment has turned to admit what it can no longer deny.

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The path out of this nightmare might be easier if not for another problem the press refused to recognize—that Kamala Harris wasn’t remotely qualified to be Vice President when Mr. Biden chose her. He had promised to pick a woman as his Vice President, and Mr. Biden selected Ms. Harris because she was a woman of color, not because of her qualifications.

Ms. Harris had bombed as a presidential candidate, washing out after she couldn’t defend her own Medicare plan at a primary debate. She had risen to the Senate based on patronage. Yet she was hailed by Democrats and the press as the first woman of color on a national ticket, as if this were more important than someone who could do the job. Criticism of her failures on immigration, or of her frequent word salads, was said to be racist or sexist.

Imagine if the Vice President now were someone like Gerald Ford, a pair of safe hands as President after Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974. The press is now reporting that one reason Mr. Biden chose to run for re-election was fear that Ms. Harris couldn’t defeat Mr. Trump.

It’s an apt worry. But if Mr. Biden had bowed out last year, Democrats could have had a normal primary fight for the nomination. Ms. Harris would have had to show she deserved it in her own right by defeating competitors. Now Democrats run the risk of appearing to bypass the first minority woman Vice President in a backroom coup. This is what happens when a party puts identity politics above governing experience and political skill.

A Biden withdrawal and an open August convention are still desirable—in the best interests of the country as much as those of the Democratic Party. Mr. Biden’s frailties are an invitation to adversaries to exploit in a second term, and Ms. Harris doesn’t appear up to the job. An open convention carries risks, but it’s the best way Democrats and their media allies can clean up the mess they’ve made.

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Source: The Mess Democrats Have Made, Kamala Harris Edition – WSJ