California Sen. Kamala Harris quit the presidential race Tuesday not because, as she put it, “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.” She dropped out because too many Democratic primary voters had come to see her as an empty pantsuit.
As Calbuzz pointed out early and repeatedly, Harris has positions, not convictions.
She tried to present herself as a somewhat progressive – a sort of lefty moderate – but was always triangulating her stance on issues, from school busing to health care, always seeking a position that would work to her advantage.
“After watching her in San Francisco and California for more than a decade, we truly don’t know whether she operates from a core of cogent and steadfast political values — or merely from a concatenation of constant calculation as to what position most benefits her politically,” we told our readers months ago.
As a practical matter.. Dropping out now allows time to remove her name from the California primary ballot and avoid an embarrassing fourth or fifth place finish in her home state. Least-Favorite Daughter is not a strong credential.
Quitting now also sets her up as a potential vice-presidential choice – although she would help a ticket more demographically than geographically – or as a possible cabinet member in a Democratic administration. A lack of authenticity would be less debilitating for a secondary position.
If she were to endorse former Vice President Biden – whom she attacked in the first Democratic debate – she could rehabilitate herself and maybe get picked as his running mate, if he wins the nomination. If Biden would forgive her.
“Kamala Harris is an incredible talent with unlimited potential. Her career has been defined by taking on those who abuse power and seeking equity and justice for all people. Her intellect and insight will continue to be needed by the Democratic Party and the country,” Biden tweeted Tuesday afternoon. So who knows?
As a political matter...Harris kept saying she would make the case against Donald Trump by going "toe-to-toe" with him. That presumed there would be a debate – which Trump is under no obligation to accept and which he clearly will not participate in unless he sees a huge personal advantage to doing so. Not exactly President Norms.
Harris now is a free agent with a megaphone, who can still rally her party and serve the country by campaigning against Trump. That’s what she promised to do in her drop-out statement:
“I want to be clear: although I am no longer running for President, I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are.”
Bottom line. If she is committed to that goal and continues to add her voice, she can make a valuable contribution.
Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts are the co-founders of Calbuzz, where a version of this piece is cross-posted.
Images: Harris at Justice Kavanaugh Senate hearing; Amazon.com; Pinterest.