This column by David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s chief strategist in 2008 and 2012, suggests that Joe Biden didn’t really want Kamala Harris to be his running mate. Axelrod doesn’t quite put it this way, but he does say that “others Biden considered may have fit more comfortably into partnership with him.”
This is similar to my take last week. I agreed that Harris was probably the frontrunner for the nomination, but added that if Biden made his decision based on his true preference, he would probably select someone else — perhaps Susan Rice.
Axelrod believes that Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s governor, was the number one “someone else.” Not only did Biden click well with Whitmer, she has governed a large state and (whatever we think of her) has a very high approval rating.
But, says Axelrod (though not in direct language), Whitmer was rejected because she is White. Axelrod adds that picking Whitmer would have upset leftists who wanted Elizabeth Warren on the ticket. By picking a Black, he made it difficult for Warren’s supporters to grumble.
(Biden was also comfortable with Susan Rice but she had no experience as a campaigner. In addition, the matter of Benghazi scared Biden away from Rice, according to Axelrod.)
So Biden’s pick for the person with roughly a 25 percent chance of becoming president without being elected was driven by considerations of gender, race, and maybe the lack of enough courage to upset Warren supporters.
The common denominator is the complete inability or unwillingness to stand up to the far left. But then, Biden has never really stood up to, or for, anyone or anything. He has no core beliefs. He always gone with the flow.
And why not? Somehow, he has flowed to within touching distance of the White House.
STEVE adds: This is similar to Reagan in 1980. He wasn’t enthusiastic about George H.W. Bush as his running mate, but there were problems with other possible running mates, and after the misadventure of considering Gerald Ford as a possible “co-president” spun out of control at the convention, Reagan quickly decided that Bush was the best option to settle things down, as Bush had run second-best in the GOP nomination contest. I still wish he’d picked Jack Kemp, but the campaign was worried that Kemp was a wild card who would be “too ambitious” and be plotting his succession too brazenly. Sort of like what people say we can’t say about Harris without being “sexist.”