Regarding Kamala Harris’s presidential prospects, a few observations on why conservatives should fear her more than other candidates in the Dem field.
First, I want to add a little bit to Paul’s post about Harris and Willie Brown from earlier today. Paul understates Brown’s full political stature by describing him as a “kingmaker” in Bay Area politics. Brown in his heyday as Assembly Speaker was simply the smartest politician in America, and he dominated politics in the entire state. He ran circles around Republicans repeatedly. (He also attacked me in a press conference once, for the small role I played in blocking a big pay raise for legislators. But that’s a story for another day. . .)
Did you know that the whole national movement for term limits grew out of the effort to oust Willie Brown? Unable to defeat Brown and Democrats at the polls (partly due to the egregious Democratic gerrymandering of California in the 1980s that made it nearly impossible for the GOP to win a majority in the legislature—this was before gerrymandering became an offense against democracy for the left), the California GOP hit upon proposing term limits as the only means to get rid of Willie. Any collateral damage was worth it.
Now here’s where Willie’s candor expressed itself. He was brazen in shaking down the business community in California for large campaign contributions, with a mix of threats and blandishments. Give me money and you’ll get something; don’t give me money and I’ll let the left punish you. Everyone knew Willie would punish them too, but he could be bought off with some protection money. He was amazingly direct about this.
One day he was down in Orange County shaking down the Republican business community the year term limits were on the ballot, and someone present related to me that Brown thundered about how undemocratic and unsound term limits are. But then he paused and gave his most direct reason: “Besides, if it passes, I’m going to lose my fuckin’ job!”
Which brings me to the totally unsurprising (to me) article over the weekend where he candidly admits, of course I slept with Kamala Harris. I think this is a simple case of putting a potential controversy behind you by getting it out early. Just watch: in addition to deterring others in the Dem field (or the media) from making an issue of this, if it does come up, like the old days with the Clintons, it will be dismissed as “old news.”
P.S. Back when Willie Brown was mayor of San Francisco and Jerry Brown was mayor of Oakland, I liked to say that the Bay Area suffered a “full-scale Brown-out.” But believe it or not, they were sane compared to the mayors and councils that run SF and Oakland today.
One other thing about Willie: in a city that was one of the first to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, that law didn’t apply to him. He lit up a cigar anywhere and anytime he pleased. I kind of liked that about Willie.
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