Pat Buchanan, Accused in 2019 of being a serial harasser, Joe Biden did what came naturally. He apologized for perceived past misbehavior, and, to appease his accusers, pledged to choose a woman to join the Biden ticket. Then, observing the racially-fueled rage that erupted after the death of George Floyd under the knee of a white Minneapolis cop, Biden reacted again. He put out word that he would be looking closely for a black woman to run with.
Thus did Joe paint himself into a corner. For there was no black female governor of any state in the Union, and there was only one black woman in the U.S. Senate: Kamala Harris.
This presented a problem. In the first debate, Harris had charged Biden with colluding with segregationist senators in the ’70s to block the busing of school children for racial balance. Harris introduced the toxic charge against Biden with this sweet upfront concession: “I don’t believe you are a racist.”
This Tuesday, Biden made a virtue out of necessity. He chose Harris to run with him, doing so just one day after receiving a letter from one hundred prominent black men, led by rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs and radio host Charlamagne tha God, that read like an ultimatum:
“For too long Black women have been asked to do everything from rally the troops to risk their lives for the Democratic Party with no acknowledgment, no respect, no visibility, and certainly not enough support.
“Failing to select a Black woman in 2020 means you will lose the election. … We don’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils and we don’t want to vote for the devil we know versus the devil we don’t because we are tired of voting for devils — period.”
Astonishing. Here are prominent black Democrats describing the candidates they have had to support in recent years — Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Joe Biden — as “devils” and the “lesser of two evils.”
Last Friday, 700 “Concerned Black Women Leaders” delivered a similar letter to Biden demanding he put a black woman on the ticket. Wednesday, Biden complied.
But after the media ovation for Biden’s selection of Harris dies down, a new reality will emerge. Before winning her Senate seat in 2016, Harris was a prosecutor and two-term attorney general of California who established a reputation for being tough on petty criminals.
Biden, as chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, has also taken pride in helping craft the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which dramatically increased incarcerations and disproportionately affected black men.
However, Black Lives Matter, with its battle cry of “defund the police!” has pulled the Democratic Party sharply to the left on the issue of crime and cops.
Yet today, two months after Floyd’s death, mayors and cops in Democratic cities are still bedeviled by rioters, looters, arsonists, anarchists and a criminal class that settles its quarrels with nightly killings and weekend shootouts. The public is getting fed up. People want their cops back, and leftist politicians and police are coming into increasing conflict.
The black police chief of Seattle, Carmen Best, has retired rather than carry out the city’s decision to cut 50 percent of her budget. Elected officials in New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis have approved plans to reduce police budgets. Meanwhile, shooting and killings are going up in almost every city, including D.C. and New York, where more have died of gunshot wounds in 2020 than died all last year.
The president has staked out his position, and it does not lack for clarity. President Donald Trump embraces the phrase “law and order,” denounces the “defund-the-police” movement as promoting anarchy, and offers federal aid and agents to cities that request help. He calls on mayors and governor to demand the National Guard to deal with the crisis and condemns them for their chronic failure to safely secure the cities they have run for decades.
Trump has been accused of taking us back to the Nixon era.
But 1968 was the culmination of a decade of soaring crime the likes of which the nation had not known. At its convention in Chicago, the Democratic Party was ripped apart by anarchic violence and the police response. In late September, even Hubert Humphrey was denouncing the “fascists” shouting him down at every appearance.
Undeniably, Trump has his problems. But it is not certain that Biden’s sheltering in his basement and issuing his milquetoast responses to Portland and Seattle, and to the shootings, lootings and killings in Chicago, will prevail on November 3 over Trump’s boisterous campaign call to crack down on criminals, go back to school, get back to work and “play ball.”
Biden-Harris looks like a ticket content to sit on its lead and ride to victory in November, the way Governor Dewey did in 1948.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”