Politics 'We have her back' memo cleverly wards off attacks on Kamala Harris
Willie Brown: Kamala Harris should 'politely decline' any offer to be Biden's running mate
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) advised Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) to "politely decline" any offer to be presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's running mate.Brown wrote that the vice presidency would likely hinder any further political ambitions for Harris."[H]istorically, the vice presidency has often ended up being a dead end. For every George H.W. Bush, who ascended from the job to the presidency, there's anBrown wrote that the vice presidency would likely hinder any further political ambitions for Harris.
Were the women authors of thememo concerned about racism and sexism? Were they determined to protect Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in particular from damaging news coverage? Or was it just a clever Democratic ploy?
Representatives of liberal groups such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Women's Law Center and Supermajority recently wrote to senior news types urging "internal consideration" about what kinds of words and topics are acceptable in reporting on Joe Biden's vice presidential pick, and which are not. Certain topics were described as adding to the "systemic inequality" that women and people of color endure and promoting "stereotypes and tropes" that undermine those people's public images.
Trump: Harris 'the kind of opponent everyone dreams of'
President Trump kept up his attacks on Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who has named former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate for the Democratic presidential ticket, saying early Wednesday she is "the kind of opponent everyone dreams of.""@KamalaHarris started strong in the Democrat Primaries, and finished weak, ultimately fleeing the race with almost zero support," Trump tweeted. "That's the kind of opponent everyone dreams of!" .@"@KamalaHarris started strong in the Democrat Primaries, and finished weak, ultimately fleeing the race with almost zero support," Trump tweeted.
The Aug. 6 memo was sent to media bigwigs before Biden announced that Harris would be joining his ticket. But some of the talking points might be seen as targeted to head off unflattering reviews of the California senator.
The memo says that reporters or anchors should not:
- Suggest that a female candidate is politically ambitious while ignoring similar ambition in men.
- Suggest that a woman isn't "seen as subservient or supportive" in her relationships with partners, donors, staff, etc.
- Discuss whether the candidate is "likable."
- Describe the woman's weight, looks, tone of voice, attractiveness, etc., without doing the same regarding a male candidate.
- Report "on questions of electability" as a "perpetuation of a stereotype."
- Report "on doubts women may not be qualified leaders" even when a candidate is equally or more qualified than men.
- Report on the heritage of Black women because it "perpetuates a misunderstanding about who is legitimately American."
- Use pictures showing anger or passion that might suggest women are "too emotional or irrational" to hold office.
Nearly every one of these points taps into concerns that some critics have expressed about Sen. Harris.
Here are Kamala Harris's K Street connections
Former staffers and associates of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) just got a lot more influential.Harris, who was named running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday, has a former staffer working as a lobbyist, and several lobbyists in D.C. have thrown fundraisers for the California Democrat over the years.Grant Barbosa, a former aide to Harris, is director of government affairs and policy at Emergent BioSolutions, a biopharmaceutical company that develops vaccines and therapeutics and provides medical devices for biodefense.Before becoming a lobbyist, Barbosa was legislative assistant to Harris for a year starting in March 2017.
For instance, in recent months, some Biden backers had warned the former VP against choosing Harris
Perhaps equally helpful to Harris would be ruling out discussions of "likability." In July of last year, after she clobbered Joe Biden in the first Democratic primary debate,found her favorability to be quite high, at 54 percent. But only 5 percent of voters found her "likable."
How about eliminating any discussion of the candidate's appearance, tone of voice and other characteristics? Surely most commentary about Harris would be positive, no? She is attractive and energetic. Yet, in 2013, President Obama sparked controversy when he described Harris as the "best-looking attorney general in the country.", with his spokesman insisting that "he did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general's professional accomplishments and her capabilities." Supporters don't want her talents overshadowed (or undermined) by her good looks, apparently.
Biden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday shot back after President Trump complained that Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), was "nasty" to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. © Getty Images Biden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris "Donald Trump has already started his attacks, calling Kamala 'nasty,' whining about how she's 'mean' to his appointees," Biden said at a campaign event to introduce Harris as his running mate."It's no surprise because whining is what Donald Trump does best, better than any president in American history," Biden said.
Then there is the ban on discussing "electability." Early in the Democratic primary races, Harris fought the notion that the eventual nominee had to be the most "electable" candidate. Establishment Democrats determined that person to be Joe Biden; only Biden, they thought, could win back those working-class voters who defected to Donald Trump in 2016. In May of last year, Harris told attendees at the NAACP convention: "There has been a lot of conversation by pundits about 'electability' and who can speak to the Midwest." She pushed her candidacy, saying that such a narrow definition was
But, even if the "We Have Her Back" memo was not clearly aimed at shielding Harris from problematic coverage, it should be offensive to many women. As is usually the case when a particular class of person is "protected," the prohibitions recommended by the memo are utterly insulting to women. Women are not fragile; they can hold their own in debate and before the press. To suggest otherwise, which is how this memo should be read, is ridiculous.
Kamala Harris Fast Facts
Read CNN's Kamala Harris Fast Facts to learn more about the senator from California and 2020 Democratic vice presidential nominee. © NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images California Senator Kamala Harris looks on during a rally launching her presidential campaign on January 27, 2019, in Oakland, California.
Does anyone think that Margaret Thatcher wilted under the sobriquet "Iron Lady"? No, it made her stronger. Does Angela Merkel, often described as the world's most powerful woman, hide from those who call her "frumpy?" What an absurdity.
Is this an American thing? Are our women weaker and in need of special protections?
Or, instead, is this an ongoing, tiresome excuse being offered for the unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016 that set off endless soul-searching among those who could not - and still cannot - imagine why voters chose Trump?
One of the bigger potential obstacles to a Biden-Harris victory is widespread disgust at today's "cancel culture." Most people do not like being told what to think; most will reject directives such as those laid down in this memo. The groups and individuals behind the memo may think they are helping Kamala Harris, and perhaps other women in politics. In reality, they likely are achieving just the opposite with many Americans.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.
At the DNC, America meets Kamala Harris' blended family .
Family members Maya Harris, Meena Harris and Ella Emhoff gave the nominating speech for Kamala Harris at the DNC.A biographical montage for Harris' family life was jointly presented by her sister, Maya Harris, her niece Meena Harris, and her stepdaughter Ella Emhoff, who called her "Momala, the world’s greatest step-mom.