The Biden-Harris ticket is upside down. That’s our first reaction to the news that Vice President Biden has chosen the junior senator from California, Kamala Harris, to be his running mate. That makes a ticket where the vice presidential candidate seems, at least to us, to be of a more presidential personality than the elder statesman from Delaware. The more typical formulation is the young, ambitious executive type at the top of the ticket.
To see how odd this ticket really looks, imagine that in 2008 the ticket had been Biden-Obama. It would have gone down in flames. The trailblazing personality, the creative spirit, belonged to the younger man. Then again also, too, the same could be said of that year’s Republican ticket, which featured, in Senator McCain, an end-of-career candidate for president and, in Governor Palin, a charismatic young executive for vice president. They lost.
We don’t want to make too much of this. Nor do we mind saying that it’s not difficult to see how Mr. Biden eventually picked Ms. Harris over the others in the field to which he had, in a moment of weakness, restricted his search for a running mate. In that group, we’d have chosen Senator Klobuchar for a variety of reasons, including that she was a more forthright candidate in defending Israel and the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem.
Whatever else one could say about Senator Harris, she is, in the words of her Judiciary Committee colleague, Lindsey Graham, “hard-nosed,” “smart” and “tough.” She has a record as an ambitious prosecutor, at a moment when our justice system is at fore of the national conversation. Yet we suspect she’s going to be unconvincing in trying to stress her prosecutorial record in a campaign in which Mr. Trump has already seized the law-and-order issue.
Ms. Harris has waffled on defunding the police, which Vice President Biden opposes. The jury is entirely out, though, in respect of whether the pair of them have what it takes to confront the embittered Sanders faction, the anti-Semitic element that has yet to be properly addressed, and socialists who have been prospering in the Democratic Party by hawking ideas that were once unthinkable (and are unaffordable).
Vice President Biden has been signaling from the start that he intends to make his campaign a bid for a return to some kind of normalcy. It strikes us, though, that, even with the polls at his back, it’s going to be an uphill battle if normalcy is defined as higher taxes, radically more spending and borrowing, further debasement of the currency, and the idea that the portions of the country run by Democrats are any kind of example for anyone.
On foreign policy, we’ve found the Democrats generally unconvincing since the end of the Cold War and retirement of the AFL-CIO leadership that played such a central role in the Cold War. We’re suspicious of the Biden family’s relations with Communist China, and Ms. Harris’s vows to stand up for human rights in China — expressed in, among other places, an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations — seem vain boasts.
Ms. Harris mocks President Trump for his negotiating style on North Korea. Her own formulations, though, strike us as no more likely to succeed than his strategy. She seems to seek the kind of deal with North Korea that Secretary of State Kerry sought with the Iranian camarilla. She seems blind to Iran’s violations and to warnings and concerns from both sides of Israel’s political spectrum. Where does Ms. Harris move the ball for the Democrats?
It’s not yet the season for actual endorsements, but Ms. Harris will have a hard time in a head-to-head comparison with Vice President Pence. He has a record of executive experience as a governor and fiscal leadership as a congressman. He has set an example for public comportment. He reminds us of Calvin Coolidge, a modest vice president who went on to a successful presidency. For vice president, our choice would be Mr. Pence.