It's hot and muggy in Atlanta, where I live and where our primary runoff election was held this week. Normally, we would have had more of a break between the runoff and the general, but COVID-19 has changed the timing. Now the presidential election is less than three months away. Hold on tight; it's going to be a wild ride.
The announcement this week by former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, of his selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate places all of the key people in the race. The matchup is set: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence versus Biden and Harris. The selection of Harris, who is smart and tough and uses skills attained as a prosecutor, provides the Democratic ticket with a fighter who not only says she is a fighter but backs it up through style. It will be a tough battle to the end.
Harris, a former attorney general of California and district attorney of San Francisco, is the daughter of immigrants. The aspirational and inspirational tone of her background is clear. Her mother immigrated from India, her father from Jamaica; they met amid protests at school. They divorced while Harris was young, and she spent her middle- and high-school years in Canada. While her story may be American, her experiences growing up were not. But, as we all know, narratives often matter more than facts.
Harris attended Howard University in Washington and earned her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
Harris is both a former prosecutor and supposed change agent for the criminal justice system. She will continue to have to navigate the schism between her past record and her current positions. If you are curious, watch the video of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, asking Harris in a July 2019 debate about her prosecutorial history. Gabbard won. But the Biden campaign is used to navigating this same schism with Biden himself. Their focus is all about the narrative. Criticism of Harris will be met not with an explanation but with pushback that it's racist or sexist.
The Democratic National Convention will begin next Monday and continue through Thursday in what will be a primarily remote/online event. The announced speakers include former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Barack Obama, former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. The surprise speaker, announced this week, will be former Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Biden will give his acceptance speech from his home in Delaware, which should be easy for him, given that he's spent most of the past few months broadcasting from his basement. His recent performances have left many wondering if he is suffering from dementia or some other cognitive problem. Watch for yourselves; he is often incoherent.
Last week, when asked by CBS News national correspondent Errol Barnett, who is black, about taking a cognitive test, Biden replied, "No, I haven't taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? C'mon, man," he said. "That's like saying you, before you got on this program, 'Will you take a test, were you taking cocaine or not?' What do you think, huh? Are you a junkie?" Now imagine the mainstream media coverage if Trump had responded the same way.
My guess is that Biden will spend most of the coming week rehearsing. However, even if he makes a major gaffe, it may not prove fatal. That's because the mainstream media coverage will switch from a focus on what actually happened to the narrative of the historic nature of the Biden-Harris ticket.
The Republican convention will start a few days later, with President Trump giving his acceptance speech on Aug. 24. Based on past performance, the speech will be fantastic and resonate with most Americans. But the mainstream media will ignore the content and focus on something else that fits their narrative.
A month later, the debates will begin, with presidential debates on Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. The vice presidential candidates will debate on Oct. 7. The mainstream media focus will be on personal attacks and sound bites. We will be deluged -- on TV, radio and online -- with negative ads focusing once again on these sound bites.
Then, less than a month later, on Nov. 3, the election will be held. It might seem like light-years away. Let's just hope that, at that time, a clear winner is determined. Hold on tight; it's going to be wild!