Here come two Democrats vying for Oval Office occupancy: Joe Biden who has been getting lots of huge headlines for the kind tradition of hugging women and Sen. Kamala Harris who has been getting relatively few, much smaller headlines for ruining lives. Biden, kind of a centrist, could be in deep trouble while Harris, a conservative or a leftist depending on which part of her life you look at, could soon be climbing up. America, an ever-more divided, confused nation, has much to worry about.
A former vice president and senator, Biden has been around for decades but still comes across as more or less of one moderately liberal piece not yet chewed to complete nuttiness by the emergent left. It is absolutely fair to look closely at him, and, yes, you can see on internet videos that his klutzy, sometimes overreaching hugging manners could be questioned, although some recipients have said how cheery his closeness made them feel.
It does seem that he has never met a hugging, arm-wrestling opportunity he didn’t like, and this has recently led to snarling, growling and bared teeth. All of the vitriol was on hand, however, before two recent allegations of somewhat more serious behavior, even if none of it amounts to sexual assault. Compared to Harvey Weinstein, Biden is Mother Teresa, and, to me, some of the anti-Biden rhetoric trivializes the #MeToo movement as exaggerated and mean-spirited.
As San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general, Harris compiled an astonishing record of disregarding legal flubs that stuck people in prison as she then insisted they stay there. In effect she shoved due process in a paper shredder by way of technicalities, thereby enabling the ruination of people who, in some instances, were likely innocent. We’re not talking about emotional disturbance after a supposed kiss on the back of the head. We’re talking about the prolonged, debilitating torture of prison.
Harris, smart, tough and quick to offer freebies we can’t afford to citizens perhaps returning the favor at the voting booth, offered little to defendants when she served as a district attorney. She didn’t tell defense attorneys, for instance, that a lab technician had messed with drug evidence by such methods as theft and so you got convictions based on a fair share of hooey. A judge let 600 of the victims go home despite Harris’s unprincipled protests.
When she was attorney general, there was a man whose stepdaughter had accused him of sexual abuse. He said she was lying, and turned down a plea bargain offer of just a few years in prison. He got convicted without evidence being presented that she had in fact lied like a spurting fire hydrant to police. When that became known, Harris and team still fought to keep him in prison for decades and won.
The point here is that we are one mixed-up country these days. In the views of too many, mountains are always molehills and molehills are always mountains. Old, positive norms around for centuries are with us one day and gone the next, sometimes pushed aside for the sake of revelatory insights at war with common sense. Disagree with these people whose eyesight is abetted by bigoted imaginations and they will tell you how careless you have been in covering up your Hitler mustache.
Obviously, the 2020 campaigning has gotten a fast start in 2019 and we citizens, while no doubt often seeing it as too much too soon, should still aim to learn what is truly important about the candidates.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at email@example.com.