Joe Biden took his time selecting a running mate, which seemed prudent. But he came up with Sen. Kamala Harris of California, which seems anticlimactic. And, worse than that, weak.
Let’s set aside what sort of vice president and president Harris might make — the campaign will reveal the best and worst of her, and voters will decide for themselves.
What does it say about Biden as a leader?
It does not say much, or at least much that is good.
Biden started the vice presidential selection process by putting himself in a box. He pandered. He said he would pick a woman.
He did not say: I will pick the most qualified person I can find. And if that person is a woman, too, that’s great.
Neither Barack Obama nor Bernie Sanders put himself in the box Biden chose.
Then, because he let the process drift, and let others define his choice, he found himself in another, smaller box: It has to be an African American woman.
Who said so?
It’s the question Joe Biden did not ask.
Instead he went along — letting others set the agenda for his own campaign.
When the search, based on dubious and rather insulting (to women and Blacks) primary qualifications, came up with five or six underwhelming candidates, Biden did not do what a good executive would do — start over.
Biden should have said to his staff and advisers: None of these people are good enough. Back to the drawing board!
He should have said to the country: I was wrong. I am not going to limit myself. I am going to look at governors, business leaders, university presidents, former members of the Cabinet, old friends from the Senate and, yes, white women and men. I want someone OVERQUALIFIED. I want the best.
Instead, he accepted a finalist list in which everyone on the list had a fatal flaw, and Harris may have the greatest flaw of all.
That flaw is playing the demagogue, as she did when she attacked Biden himself as racist or when she played to the bleachers as a tough-on-crime prosecutor who would fill the prisons of California beyond full. Donald Trump is to the left of her, and more enlightened, on prison reform.
Maybe Harris will surprise us. Maybe she will change and grow.
But Biden? At 77, it seems unlikely he will surprise us. And he comes off his first big decision as someone who goes along to get along, as one who accepts the choices given him rather uncritically, as one who does not really lead but is led.
This is the opinion of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board.
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