I’ve long said that we are decades from electing a female President, and this whole VP debacle just confirms it. I groaned aloud when I heard Biden announce he would pick a female Vice President. I’m all for women in powerful roles, but it was clear from the start that Biden’s intention was completely off. If Biden/DNC had really wanted to elevate competent women, Biden wouldn’t have announced he was picking a female VP. He would have just picked the best candidate, who happened to be female. Instead, by announcing the female intention, he set up a grueling, protracted public vetting process, in which all the names will have been flippantly floated, flogged, and ultimately, forsaken. Rebecca Traister explains that the pre-announcement served only to virtue-signal, pad the egos of potential male candidates (we couldn’t choose you because we gotta tend this female thing, see), and set up the selection process and all candidates for failure. Moreover, the pre-announcement is also exactly the kind of thing the right rails against when thinking about affirmative action. It sets up the inevitable line of merit questioning for Biden’s final pick: is Biden choosing this woman because she is the best candidate or is she just the best candidate of a limited pool?
Perhaps the most grating part of all of this: the DNC had to know that this would happen, because frankly all women intuitively knew this would happen. And the campaign went for it anyway, and I hypothesize that it’s because Biden simply had nothing else going for him. He needed something, so the DNC offered up a trail of women as sacrifice to keep the public engaged with his campaign. He has otherwise done literally nothing else through the pandemic, except put his foot in his mouth several times.
Never have the VP stakes been so significant because the lead on the ticket—the Presidential candidate himself—is so weak. The VP pick will define the ticket, perhaps for the first time, and the DNC doesn’t appear to recognize this. By admitting they seek submissive women who don’t want to be President (explained in the article) and basically devaluing the role, the DNC seems blind to the utter lack of appeal of Biden. They are just so, so set on re-establishing the establishment with the pliant and agreeable Biden at the top, whom I suspect the DNC believes it will completely control. That’s also why it’s key to have a non-problematic woman in the VP slot. So they will throw various women through this hellish vetting gauntlet to find her, and then expect this pick to be complacent and quiet once in the role. It feels like a trap, frankly.
Willie Brown published an op-ed a few days ago advising Kamala Harris to not accept the VP candidacy if offered. He suggests that after Election Day, no one cares about the Vice President, and I agree. HBO’s brilliant satire, VEEP captures this perfectly. Instead Harris would have far more power as Attorney General, and at this stage I am inclined to agree. (Let’s not get into her prosecutorial record here. Also notably, Brown and Harris once dated.) If the DNC is set on the female VP being strictly a token or a pawn to play for the female vote, Brown is totally right.
Before coronavirus struck, I was pretty convinced that Trump would be re-elected because the DNC had done absolutely nothing differently since 2016. And now that covid has handicapped the country and Trump’s chances, it’s even more disconcerting to see that the DNC is still doing nothing differently. So it’s likely that the DNC recognizes Biden’s weak speaking profile, but they could have had him just read some things. Is that really asking too much? Read a few short scripted speeches and have some light Q&A with coronavirus experts, doctors, nurses, survivors, random people struggling with WFH/unemployment/child care/healthcare. A weekly zoom chat with real and truly random Americans would have been a way to engage.
Wasn’t he supposed to start a podcast and his team was like, we don’t know how to do the technology at his house and then just quit? That sort of tells us everything—the DNC can’t be bothered to prop up Biden now because: 1) they probably worry he will bungle the opportunity anyway, 2) they think his positioning is fine as is, and so 3) they prefer to sit back to watch Trump implode. It’s a heartless strategy and indicative of how the DNC operatives will run the Biden presidency once in office. I see no intent to really connect with voters and better understand the amplified trials of living with coronavirus; I see only the notable inaction, i.e. the path of least resistance for Biden and the DNC. They are simply set on the safest plan to get back in office (never mind the female VP candidates tossed aside and thrown under the bus in the meantime) and reset the balance of power.
Anyway, I’m still voting for Biden, and I hope you do, too. I’ve just never been more un-enthused.