By: Rich Lowry – nationalreview.com –
There are bad vice-presidential picks, and then there’s Kamala Harris.
In different circumstances, she might have been a run-of-the-mill, underwhelming choice, but present circumstances have made Biden’s choice much more momentous.
In fact, it ranks as the worst VP pick in half a century, and easily one of the worst picks in the last 100 years.
As Democrats begin to realize Biden’s political weakness, with Donald Trump barreling down the pike toward a third presidential nomination, Harris is one of the factors — although not the main one — keeping them from doing anything about it.
What if someone did convince Biden to step aside for the good of the party? Well, that might just open the way for Harris herself to become the nominee. In other words, out of the pan and into the fire.
Even if she lost in an open nominating process, it’d be quite the spectacle for Democrats to turn away a historic — in identity-politics terms — vice president and potentially historic presidential nominee for someone else (assuming that someone else isn’t equally historic in the same noxious terms favored by the Left).
So she’s at least a factor in the propping up of what may prove the weakest incumbent presidential candidate since George H. W. Bush. (The economy will have much to say about whether Biden is really as weak.)
This isn’t the only downside, though. Harris is going to be an issue next year because everyone realizes there’s a significant chance that Joe Biden wouldn’t be able to serve out a full second term.
This means her own political standing is of more import than usual for a vice president. Typically, a vice president’s popularity matters only for his or her own political ambitions; this time, it could make a difference in the presidential race because her standing is, in a word, abysmal.
In the new NBC News poll, the theme of which is that Biden and Trump are both abidingly unpopular, Kamala Harris is right there with them. At 31 percent, her positive rating is lower than both of theirs, and her negative rating, 51 percent, is higher than Biden’s.
The bar Biden needed to clear in his vice-presidential pick wasn’t high. He either needed a political nonentity or a popular entity, who ideally had some governing credibility; instead he went with the unpopular nonentity.
How does this rank with prior bad choices? Well, as it happens (funny how this works), the most maligned recent picks are all Republicans.
Let’s run through them. Sarah Palin was not suited to be president of the United States but was a Hail Mary in a basically unwinnable race, so we should discount that pick for inconsequence. Dick Cheney was a governing choice, who, despite all the obloquy heaped on him, performed admirably. Dan Quayle’s reputation was destroyed by the press, but he didn’t play into George H. W. Bush’s fate one way or the other.
I think to find a worse major-party pick — and actual vice president — you have to go back to Spiro Agnew. At least, as far as we know, Harris hasn’t been taking kickbacks that will force her to resign — in fact, she may be the relatively ethical half of the Biden-Harris ticket.
Prior to that, you probably have to go back to Henry Wallace, whom Democrats thankfully dumped in 1944 after he served one term as FDR’s vice president.
In a notice at the Council on Foreign Relations website of a new book on Wallace, Benn Steil records his greatest hits:
As agriculture secretary, he fell under the spell of Russian mystics, and used the cover of a plant-gathering mission to aid their doomed effort to forge a new theocratic state in Central Asia. As vice president, he toured a Potemkin Siberian continent, guided by undercover Soviet security and intelligence officials who hid labor camps and concealed prisoners. He then wrote a book, together with an American NKGB journalist source, hailing the region’s renaissance under Bolshevik leadership. In China, the Soviets uncovered his private efforts to coax concessions to Moscow from Chiang Kai-shek, fueling their ambitions to dominate Manchuria. Running for president in 1948, he colluded with Stalin to undermine his government’s foreign policy, allowing the dictator to edit his most important election speech.
Wallace eventually admitted he got the Soviet Union wrong, but that’s neither here nor there.
Wherever you rank Kamala Harris, there’s no doubt that she’s bad, and even Jamie Raskin and Nancy Pelosi know it. But the Democrats brought this on themselves with their obsession with race and gender. It couldn’t have happened to nicer people.
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