When Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris as his running mate back a couple of months ago, it was historic.
Third woman, first “woman of color” as we keep being reminded, first “child born of immigrants,” Harris was impressive if only because of her novelty. And some felt that she was impressive because of a lot of other factors, including her intelligence and resume.
I DVR’d last week’s vice presidential debate featuring Harris and Vice President Mike Pence so I could give it the attention it deserved, which translates into “freeze framing and rewinding” those moments of particular interest.
I had heard about the fly on Pence’s head, and wanted to see the little squatter for myself. I had heard about the eye rolling and grimaces from Harris and her almost “I’m With Stupid” mannerisms when the current vice president was talking. I already had experience with her whiny, nasal delivery, and as an aside, am considering elective ear drum removal if she does become veep. And I had also heard about how each candidate had expertly and consistently deflected questions like “will you support packing the Supreme Court” and “is climate change real?”
Everything I’d heard was confirmed by the DVR. Pence hit some birdies, and Harris made some cogent points.
But I had also heard that Harris was disrespected by Pence when he spoke over her or exceeded his time limits, and was astounded by the novel theory that she wasn’t as aggressive as she might have been because she didn’t want to come off looking like an “angry Black woman.” That was news to me, because while she didn’t look angry, she did look bemused, patronizing, supercilious and impatient in her smirking glory. The mere suggestion that she was reigning in her true nature is a little rich, because I think we all had an opportunity to see that nature on full, Technicolor display.
And guess what? That’s fine. Our president is a nasty little fellow when he wants to cut someone down, and has used insults and brutishness to make his points. Any supporter who denies that, or justifies that, is living in the Magic Kingdom. A lot of men emulate his attitude, and a lot of women, too. Nancy Pelosi has perfected the art of being offensive, and that’s equally fine. Politicians are not noted for their chivalry, decorum and downright decency these days.
But I am a little sick and tired of people trying to make excuses for Harris by saying that her mediocre debate performance (and Pence was by far the better debater, which was expected) was due to her fear of being viewed as a nasty woman. In other words, she toned it down because she knew that some critics would use misogynistic tropes to pan her “aggressiveness.”
I actually don’t think Harris felt that way. It’s her supporters, the same ones who defamed and slandered Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, Michelle Bachman, Martha McSally, and most recently, Amy Coney Barrett, who are hypersensitive to any suggestion of being mean to a woman. That is laughable, if you think about their motley track record with women they don’t like.
After seeing how the wagons were circled around her after what really was a C+ to B- performance in the debate, I have to wonder if progressives aren’t guilty of the bigotry of “low expectations” when it comes to the women they like. Pointing out that she was rude, evasive, and not all that well-informed on the principles of religious liberty (she has yet to apologize to Catholics for that Knights of Columbus “cult” slander) is not misogyny.
To paraphrase the president, it is what it is.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times in Philadelphia and can be reached at email@example.com.