- By FREDDY GRAY
Kamala Harris, the new Democratic vice-presidential nominee, certainly looks the part. Barack Obama once called her ‘the best-looking attorney general in the country’, though he later decided that was a sexist remark and apologised. She’s half-black, half-Indian and she has a charismatic Californian smile. If a director were casting for someone to play America’s first minority woman vice-president, he’d probably plump for an actress who looked like Harris. She dresses like the Hollywood idea of a political woman — power-suits and pearls. She’s got what wonks call the ‘optics’ down pat.
It’s easy to forget but only last year Harris was considered a favourite to win her party’s presidential nomination. The media liked her and her campaign launch drew a crowd of 20,000. ‘She has pizzazz, the it-factor,’ said one attendee. ‘She’s got major ovaries,’ said another. In the first Democratic presidential television debate in June, she won all sorts of plaudits for attacking Joe Biden — now her running mate — for his record on race relations.
Then she promptly fizzled out. Voters just didn’t seem to warm to her. Her record as a criminal prosecutor — or, as her critics like to say, ‘a cop’ — made her deeply unpopular among the radical left. She looked cantankerous and unpleasant when, in a later debate, she clashed with Tulsi Gabbard, another serious power-suit wearer. Gabbard pointed out Harris’s deepest flaws as far as progressives are concerned: Harris as prosecutor had put more than 1,500 marijuana users in jail. When asked if she had ever tried pot herself, however, Harris the politician laughed and said: ‘I have… and I inhaled.’ As attorney general, Harris had also tried to block inconvenient evidence that exonerated an innocent man on death row.