PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE: This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf. Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist. This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write. I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf. The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like. And it is where you want to be on a golf course.
There are at least three reasons for the commitment in the headline:
- In the Wall Street Journal, I get a center-right perspective on the days’ news, especially in politics.
- In the Washington Post, I get a center-left perspective.
- And, in both, I get solid journalism.
Nowhere was this comparison more evident than this morning when both outlets commented on Senator Kamala Harris as the choice running mate for Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Here are excerpts:
FROM WALL STREET JOURNAL
“In choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday, Joe Biden checked the essential boxes his party had demanded—a woman, a minority, and a progressive who has moved left as the Democratic Party has. We’ll see how the California Senator plays in the swing-state suburbs that Biden needs to defeat President Trump.
“Biden’s choice is especially important because he would be the oldest President on Inauguration Day at age 78. The actuarial tables and his declining mental acuity suggest he wouldn’t run for re-election, assuming he lasts a full term. Americans who have watched Biden on the campaign trail—and the way his advisers protect him from media questioning—are smart enough to know that in voting for Biden they’re also voting for his running mate as a likely President.
“Harris is most appealing as an example of American upward mobility, especially for immigrants. Her father is a Jamaican-born Stanford economist. Her Indian-born mother was a breast cancer researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Biden may have backed himself into the corner of having to choose Harris. He limited his choices by promising to select a woman, and the black Democrats who saved him in South Carolina pressed for a black woman. Then the Sanders wing pressed for a progressive, and Ms. Harris is a safer choice by far than Elizabeth Warren.
“In this sense the choice is revealing about the unusual nature of Biden’s candidacy. He won the nomination as the last-ditch, anti-Trump alternative to what would have been the suicidal selection of Bernie Sanders. More than any recent nominee, Biden is a party figurehead, more than a party leader. In adding Harris to the ticket, he has underscored that a vote for Biden isn’t merely a vote to oust Trump. It’s a vote for the coastal progressives who now dominate the Democratic Party.”
FROM THE WASHINGTON POST
“From the moment former vice president Joe Biden became the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president, one qualification has loomed as most important for his running mate: that she or he be prepared to serve as president. Senator Kamala Harris, the California Democrat whom Biden announced Tuesday as his selection, meets that test.
“Of course, in theory, that should always be the primary consideration for a vice president. Too often, though, candidates have been more influenced by electoral college arithmetic. There’s good reason to think that Harris, a gifted politician, can help lift the ticket, but California is not a state where Biden needs help.
“At 78, though, he would be far and away the oldest person to be sworn in as president, and demographic reality dictated a choice of someone who could plausibly step in.
“Harris is such a person. She has been elected statewide three times in the nation’s most populous state. As California attorney general, running what amounts to a parallel Justice Department, she earned executive experience and respect for her savvy and administrative skill. As senator, she gained Washington experience. And as presidential candidate last year and this, she faced the pressures of the campaign trail and the debate stage.
“It is a plus for the nation that the qualified person whom Biden settled on, after a fairly lengthy process, is also a woman, as he had promised, and a woman of color, the daughter of a mother from India and a father from Jamaica. Identifying as an African American, she would be the first woman and the first Black woman to serve as president or vice president. It is about time.
“Running to replace a president who has celebrated incompetence and elevated incompetents, Biden needed to choose a running mate who respects public service and has served well. I n Harris, he has found such a partner.”
See! That’s why I read both.
And, my view? With these editorials in mind, it is that Harris was not safest or conventional choice – she was the best choice. And I hope she helps Biden do what he must do for the future of the country – beat the worst U.S. president in history, Donald Trump.