August 8, 2017

OH GOODIE: The 2020 Democratic Purity Olympics Are Already Under Way.

Wouldn’t you know it, on the very delicious-to-watch week that Republicans start jumping off the leaky Trump frigate, some Democrats began testing attacks on one of their own, possible 2020 presidential contender Kamala Harris. The charge, leveled by a few folks on the left, including one member of the Democratic Party Unity Commission (!), is the usual one: that Harris is a corporate stooge in the mold of you-know-who and if the Democrats are even thinking about nominating her, the dis-unity commission will get to work sabotaging her.

I hold no particular brief for Harris, who’s been a senator for all of seven months. Frankly, to me, this presidential talk seems awfully premature. Yes, Barack Obama had served briefly; he was elected to the Senate in 2006 and started running for president the next year, whereas Harris would have three years under her belt. But Obama had electrified the political world with that convention speech back in 2004, and that night he showed obvious presidential potential. Harris asked some good questions in two Senate hearings, but I’m a little mystified as to why that gets her on presidential lists. She was shortlisted by some people before she was even elected.

She’s telegenic, a female of color, and sufficiently progressive — or is sufficient not sufficient enough for some Democrats?

As David Dayen pointed out in the New Republic in early 2016 as her Senate run was getting off the ground, she has a history of being overly cautious (uh, just like you-know-who), especially with regard to her decision not to prosecute Steve Mnuchin’s bank for foreclosure violations. The California attorney general’s office had found ample evidence of possible wrongdoing, but Harris declined to pursue the matter and hasn’t said why.

So she should say why, if she runs for president, and people can judge whether her response is adequate. That’s part of the scrutiny.

But these attacks have the feel of something else. They have the feel of a group of people, most or all of them Bernie Sanders supporters, itching to refight 2016 and demand a level of purity that lo and behold only one candidate can possibly attain.

Corn, popped.

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