When Joe Biden announced that Senator Kamala Harris would be his runmate, the New York Times called her a “pragmatic presenter.” In fact, it is not moderate at all and is only “pragmatic” in the sense that cynics sometimes attribute it to shameless opportunists.
Given that Biden presided over the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas hearings and pioneered the conversion of Supreme Court nominations into hyper-politicized, defamatory circuses, his runmate’s actual record should come as no surprise.
Harris was the ringleader in the circus surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court appointment two years ago. Remember it? She may prefer you to forget.
Two years ago today, during his first hearing, Harris attempted to steal the show with a bizarre series of “gotcha”
Kavanaugh seemed to have no idea what she was talking about, but he was astute about the Democrats’ tactics of setting perjury traps that would lead him to make inconsistent statements that could later be spun as lies.
Harris’ tactic would not have been allowed in a courtroom. As it turned out, both Kavanaugh and the law firm denied such conversations, and Harris said nothing more on the matter. A headline on the San Francisco Chronicle reported, “Kamala Harris’ viral grilling of Kavanaugh ends with a thud.” But she had got what she was looking for – a “viral moment” on social media – although she would later be derided for indiscriminately following such viral moments.
That was the sideline before the main circus event. Just two days after Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations were made public, Harris stated, “I believe her.” Others charged Kavanaugh with what appeared to be defamatory allegations, including an anonymous, undated letter Harris’ office forwarded to the Justice Committee in who alleged Kavanaugh raped a woman in a car.
When the committee had to vote, Harris struck a strike and went to a press conference. Not only had she found Kavanaugh guilty, she’d locked it from the start and wouldn’t budge. For them, even a full committee hearing and an additional FBI investigation were insufficient to reject unfounded allegations of sexual assault against a public figure.
Of course, Harris’ concerns were all politics. She covered Facebook with thousands of ads raising funds from the Kavanaugh nomination that surpassed any other senator. She was not up for re-election, but was looking forward to a presidential election.
As a presidential candidate, she was willing to briefly support women who made allegations against a Democrat – as long as it was a Democrat she was running against. When Tara Reade and other women claimed that Joe Biden had touched them inappropriately in various contexts, the first thing she said was that she believed them.
At the time she was running against Biden. However, when Reade’s more serious allegations were exposed a year later, by that point Harris had already become a top runner-up candidate, she said she believed Biden. And suddenly no further investigation was required – the exact opposite of their position on Kavanaugh. Harris was one of the first of many Democratic women for whom political interests had overridden a prior insistence on believing all women.
Harris and Biden are now a walking double standard. She hasn’t served a single tenure in the Senate, but her fast lane on the Democratic Party’s national ticket was made easier by giving opportunism priority over principle.
After Biden’s cloak of politicization of the judiciary was taken up in the Senate, it is now discussed that Harris plays a prominent role in the selection of the judiciary if the two are elected. At least their vicious tactics against political targets while a member of the party was out of power in the Senate was unsuccessful. It’s terrifying to think about what she could get away with as Vice President.
Carrie Campbell Severino is President of the Judicial Crisis Network.