No one was shocked by Joe Biden’s pick of California Senator Kamala Harris. For months people had guessed and assumed she would be Biden’s veep. The other names on the list didn’t seem to make much sense. Many of the women on it lacked the kind of visibility and excitement that Kamala innately possessed, not to mention Kamala’s digital army and heaps of charisma. But Kamala had been impressive, commanding, and serious in the debates. Some sexist pundits worried that she had been too commanding and impressive.
So that was all expected. What happened next, though, was something that few of us saw coming. Even I, who am completely dead inside, was all of a sudden incredibly moved by the idea of Kamala Harris as vice president. And I was not alone. The sentiment and the excitement, the pride that women around the country felt, almost no one, perhaps not even Harris, could have predicted.
And while Instagram was a sea of Kamala photos and non-Fox cable news was an ocean of gushing pundits, some of whom had at one point been skeptical of the senator from California, it became really clear who were the biggest losers of the Kamala Harris veep pick: Donald J. Trump, and especially the boring mediocre white guy he calls his Veep, Mike Pence.
During Trump’s nightly (ish) briefing, which is theoretically supposed to be about coronavirus but is usually just an airing of his latest grievances, Trump was asked a softball question by the Rupert Murdoch-owned, Trump-loving New York Post about Harris. He proceeded to ignore the question, which wasn’t much of a question; more of an odd meditation on whether Kamala had ever smoked pot or listened to rap music.
But Trump ignored the question and used the opportunity to call Harris “nasty” because he felt she was too mean to Justice Brett “Beach Week” Kavanaugh. And Kamala did crush Kavanaugh, just like she crushed acting Secretary of Gassing Protesters Chad Wolf. And on Oct. 7, at the veep debate, she will crush Mike Pence. Kamala is an extremely tough questioner, which warms the cockles of my charred heart.
The pick of Harris illuminated the president’s woman problem in stark relief. Trump has a pretty serious woman problem (as opposed to Trump’s coronavirus problem or Trump’s racism problem or Trump’s financial malfeasance problem).
You’ll remember Trump as the guy with more than 24 sexual assault allegations against him, the guy who paid off not one but two women during his first campaign. That guy is desperately trying to hang on to suburban women. And while Kamala may be a senator from California, she is a lot closer to a suburban housewife than smooth-talking, shellack-haired Mike Pence and his wife, whom he creepily calls mother. Men haven’t called their wives mother since World War II, which Trump recently told us was ended by the pandemic of 1917 which really happened in 1918.
Pence is a veep from another century, a mediocre white guy who started out as a right-wing radio talk jock, went into politics, wasn’t particularly popular in the state he governed, and reminds me of a boring 1950s dad from a sitcom that even MeTV wouldn’t bother putting on.
Pence spends much of his time staring adoringly at Trump, the kind of sycophancy that might remind one of a golden retriever, or, while I’m on the topic of old TV, the way Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara stared at Adam West’s Batman. Also Pence is the head of the coronavirus task force. You’ll remember coronavirus as the thing that has killed 160,000 Americans and is completely uncontrolled and unmitigated.
While Pence is a failure, Harris is part of a larger movement. As Cheryl Laird writes in the Times, “It is Black women, more so than any other racial-gender pair, who have gotten behind efforts at more inclusive representation with their unquestionable support for the prospect of the first woman president in 2016 and the first Black president in 2008, as well as the re-election of the first Black president in 2012.” A Black woman on the ticket is a historic first for the Democratic Party which has been over the last decade been consistently supported by Black women.
Often Trump’s tweets betray what lurks in his goldfish brain. In this case, it was his woman problem. So the day after Biden’s announcement of his exciting female running mate, Trump “suggested a Black senator from New Jersey would be in charge of overseeing an ‘invasion’ of neighborhoods that would undermine the ‘safety’ for ‘the suburban housewife.’”
In the coming weeks we’ll see more racist attacks against Harris, and maybe Corey Booker too. That’s because Trump is a racist, but it’s also because Trump is worried that suburban housewives will identify with the exciting woman who broke barriers and not with the guy who calls his wife mother. Trump knows he can’t win without some support from women. He has to appeal to some suburban housewives, but the question is will he be able to scare them into voting for him, or will our better angels win out?
Trumpworld will try everything it can to destroy Kamala. It’s because they’re scared. Trump has historically and metaphorically overpowered women, and Trumpworld sees that Kamala is a formidable foe. Harrris is endlessly powerful. She isn’t like the women in Trumpworld. She doesn’t cower. And I for one look forward to watching her wipe the floor with smarmy Mike Pence and his shellacked hair.