In Great Britain, they call it “an heir and a spare,” the queen’s duty to produce two boys, just in case something bad happens to the elder. We don’t birth our spares in America. We elect them, although we do so in tandem with the main event, so unless they’re Sarah Palin, so wholly unfit for office that the spare can be an unbearable weight on maybe the last statesman in our lifetime, they are more suffered than chosen.
The other big news of Joe Biden’s election is that we elected the first woman, and as it happens, a Woman of Color, that awful phrase that obscures the person behind the identity.
Ms. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, has risen higher in the country’s leadership than any woman ever before her.
That’s subject to some functional dispute, as vice president isn’t an office of power, with only modest purpose such as tie-breaking in the Senate, and otherwise remaining alive just in case she’s needed. Nancy Pelosi might only be third in line in case of catastrophe, but she wielded enormous power. Harris never has and, should Biden remain in power for his full term, may end up a forgotten footnote of history.
Harris wasn’t the first woman to run for president or vice president. Her predecessors just didn’t get elected. It wasn’t because they were women, but because they didn’t win. In advance of picking a running mate, Biden promised to pick a female VP, as opposed to the best VP, which was a political tactic designed to appeal to the identity wing of his party. By limiting his options to gender, he gained tactical advantage. By limiting his options to gender, he gave away the moral high ground of providing America with the best possible spare.
While many will applaud this “momentous” event, that a woman has finally, finally, been elected vice president, the shine will wear off quickly as it should. We use phrases like “breaking the glass ceiling” to describe how a woman has now achieved something no woman before her could, meaning that the barrier is now gone and every little girl in America can grow up knowing that she could become vice president.
Except nobody really doubted that. Nobody has doubted that for the past generation, since Geradline Ferraro was picked by Walter Mondale to be his running mate in 1984. Ferraro didn’t lose because she was a woman. She lost because Mondale lost. She lost because Reagan won.
And now, with Joe Biden uttering conciliatory words, saying he’ll be the president of all Americans, not just blue states or black women, now that the glass ceiling has finally, finally been broken, the morning after leaves us with the sober realization that the woman of color we finally elected is still Kamala Harris.
That she has risen higher in the country’s leadership than any woman ever has underscores the extraordinary arc of her political career. A former San Francisco district attorney, she was elected as the first Black woman to serve as California’s attorney general. When she was elected a United States senator in 2016, she became only the second Black woman in the chamber’s history.
As a prosecutor, Harris was a nightmare. Somehow, what she did, who she was, has magically disappeared in the woke subconscious with a duration of 8 seconds. Had she not been able to hide behind her skin and genitalia, she would have been hated, despised, by everyone left of Genghis Khan. She was that smirky-face protecting the killer cop. She was that smug thug putting black parents in jail for their kids’ truancy.
When her ambitions got the better of her, she smelled the way the wind was blowing the evil prosecutor stench that emanated from her every pore away. So she reinvented herself for the benefit of the clueless left, who would only see her race and gender. She became a woke senator who would use her mad prosecutor skillz to eviscerate her Republican enemies.
Almost immediately, she made a name for herself in Washington with her withering prosecutorial style in Senate hearings, grilling her adversaries in high-stakes moments that at times went viral.
Her “prosecutorial style” might look “withering” to someone who has no clue what withering means, but like her combination of angry and smirky when it was directed at shared enemies. And so she became a woke favorite, despite being everything the woke despise in a woman of color package.
Kamala Harris sought the presidential nomination, despite her being in the Senate for a scant half term, and learned that the Dems, and particularly her home state Dems, didn’t want her. She did poorly, very poorly, not because she was a woman, not because she was the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, but because she was Kamala Harris. That’s how it’s supposed to be. The identity shtick might be good enough to light the woke flame, but then you’re stuck with the actual person, identity notwithstanding.
Last night, someone said to me that if Biden fails to complete his term and Harris becomes president, whether by death of a president or the 25th Amendment, it won’t be because she was elected president. “Not exactly true,” I replied, “as we did elect Kamala Harris president when we elected her to be vice president.” We elected our spare, and our spare is Kamala Harris.
For those of you for whom the gender of the vice president matters, this is the momentous event you wanted. We will have a female vice president, something we could have had decades ago or any time since. Most of America would have been entirely fine with a woman VP, or president for that matter, as long as it was a person, regardless of gender, we wanted in the office.
Now you finally, finally, got a woman vice president. It’s a shame that it had to be Kamala Harris. Should something happen to Joe Biden and Harris assumes the presidency, we have no one to blame but ourselves. America elected her the spare.