NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Are Democrats ready to defend Kamala Harris from the misogyny Geraldine Ferraro faced?

The polit­i­cal rise of Kamala Har­ris in Cal­i­for­nia was fueled in part by one Don­ald Trump, who gave a total of $6,000 in 2011 and 2013 to her cam­paigns for state attor­ney gen­er­al, with first daugh­ter Ivan­ka Trump chip­ping in $2,000.

Har­ris will, how­ev­er, be sub­ject to unre­lent­ing, and like­ly shift­ing, attacks from Trump, his min­ions and FNC pun­dits over the next eighty-three days. They will des­per­ate­ly seek a line of assault that “sticks” against the Cal­i­for­nia senator.

“Any­one who wants to detract her based on any­thing is going to face a wall of Black women like they’ve nev­er seen,” MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid hap­pi­ly pre­dict­ed min­utes after Joe Biden select­ed his run­ning mate.

Hope the pre­dic­tion holds. Some­thing very dif­fer­ent hap­pened in 1984.

The day and night Geral­dine Fer­raro hit Seat­tle was a joy­ous expe­ri­ence in our house­hold. I helped cov­er a gigan­tic Fer­raro ral­ly at the Pike Place Market.

More than 8,000 peo­ple turned out on a sun-splashed day.

My part­ner Mick­ie was able to afford the evening’s Fer­raro fundrais­er, and came back pumped at the brassy, enthu­si­as­tic can­di­date. She regaled Jen­nifer, our black stan­dard poo­dle, far into the night with descrip­tions of the event.

The enthu­si­asm quick­ly turned to anger.

Fer­raro was described as “aggres­sive” for her assertive style. The Wash­ing­ton, D.C., press corps were soon in a feed­ing fren­zy over her husband’s busi­ness deal­ings. Fer­raro stood and took it in a long, awful news conference.

Vice Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush, the morn­ing after his TV debate with Fer­raro, told a con­struc­tion union leader: “We kicked a lit­tle ass last night.” Bar­bara Bush described Fer­raro with the words: “I can’t say it, but it rhymes with rich.”

The tough­ness of Ger­ry Fer­raro was turned against her. At our home in Madrona, Mick­ie seethed that nobody was com­ing for­ward to her defense.

Sen­a­tor Har­ris will face fire on sim­i­lar grounds.

She is, by train­ing, a pros­e­cu­tor. While most mem­bers of Con­gress deliv­er ram­bling mini speech­es at hear­ings, and read ques­tions writ­ten by staff, Har­ris has been the inter­roga­tor, the Sen­a­tor who fol­lows up. It has been that way in the Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, and lat­er in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.

The rap is com­ing together.

Har­ris is “aggres­sive” and per­haps “too ambi­tious.” Scoff if you wish, but it’s a line long used against women seek­ing high­er office. It was appar­ent­ly a wor­ry of ex-Sen­a­tor Chris Dodd, who helped Biden with his vet­ting efforts.

Cable tele­vi­sion pro­grams, ear­li­er today, were filled with sto­ries about women’s groups prepar­ing to fire back at the “ambi­tious” charge.

Wise to note, far more pro­grams are host­ed by women (like MSNBC’s Joy Reid) than was the case thir­ty-six years ago, when cable was a young medium.

But don’t lean back and expect fem­i­nist groups, or Har­ris Howard Uni­ver­si­ty soror­i­ty sis­ters from Alpha Kap­pa Alpha, to car­ry the freight. The defense of a no-non­sense woman, on the nation­al stage, must be car­ried out on the local level.

How to go about this?

Steel your­self and call in to chal­lenge a right-wing radio host who is den­i­grat­ing Har­ris. The obvi­ous ques­tions: Do you want a dumb vice pres­i­dent? Do you want some­body not smart enough to smoke out an over­ly opti­mistic aide or duplic­i­tous Cab­i­net sec­re­tary? Think of recent dis­as­ters that have befall­en the coun­try when, say, Vice Pres­i­dent Cheney was run­ning unchecked.

Tack­le what is defined as “loy­al­ty.” “I am for Pres­i­dent Rea­gan – blind­ly,” V.P. George H.W. Bush once exclaimed. The feal­ty of Mike Pence, par­tic­u­lar­ly as Trump has spewed inac­cu­ra­cies on the coro­n­avirus, is a bench­mark in the march of folly.

Wouldn’t it be bet­ter to have a Vice Pres­i­dent who is briefed? Who cuts to the quick when Biden has a ten­den­cy to ramble?

(Fresh­man Sen­a­tor Barack Oba­ma, hear­ing Biden run on at a 2005 Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee hear­ing, passed a note telling an aide, “Shoot me!”)

Amer­i­ca is neck deep in the big muddy.

It will take an extra­or­di­nar­i­ly cool-head­ed, com­pe­tent Biden admin­is­tra­tion to find a way out. What Repub­li­can admin­is­tra­tion has not left the coun­try in a morass?

It’s won­der­ful to have an African Amer­i­can (and South Asian Amer­i­can) woman on the tick­et. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic tick­et looks like America.

But the abil­i­ty to gov­ern is the acid test of pol­i­tics, the acid final test (words bor­rowed from Adlai Steven­son). Kamala Har­ris brings the abil­i­ty to mas­ter what­ev­er port­fo­lio she is giv­en. She can find her bear­ings in a New York minute.

Amer­i­ca needs such a part­ner in a new president.

Kamala Har­ris will be attacked for her com­pe­tence. Have her back over the next eighty-plus days. No nas­ti­ness should be allowed to detract from those abil­i­ties rec­og­nized by Don­ald and Ivan­ka Trump as polit­i­cal donors in the last decade.

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One Comment

  1. Remem­ber this is 36 years lat­er and a changed world in a lot of ways. Fer­raro car­ried on her cam­paign with dig­ni­ty, in my opinion.
    Har­ris may fall into the same trap as Kaine did in debates with inter­rupt­ing. I say that, not to give cre­dence to Pence, but that per­cep­tion does matter.
    Trump is a much dif­fer­ent ani­mal than Rea­gan, where as Rea­gan was able to use oppo­nen­t’s attacks to his favor, such as his quip about not using Mon­dale’s youth and inex­pe­ri­ence against him, Trump just tweets insults.

    # by Mike Barer :: August 12th, 2020 at 7:12 AM
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