They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In politics, it depends on who is saying it.
If it’s President Trump, being a woman, beautiful or not doesn’t matter. He calls all women “nasty.” If a female reporter asks a piercing question at a presidential press conference his response is that she was nasty.
Within a few hours of the selection of Kamala Harris as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, all the president could say was she was “nasty.”
There may be two dozen words to describe Sen. Harris but the word nasty doesn’t apply. Webster’s dictionary defines nasty as “disgusting, filthy, physically repugnant and someone guilty of using nasty language.”
Kamala Harris is by almost all objective standards, smart, probative, intelligent, informed, strong, decent, authoritative, bold, warm, commanding, feisty, light-hearted, attractive and just plain nice.
During the coming campaign, her Republican detractors will describe her as “too ambitious, cunning, mean-spirited, pushy, overly aggressive” and many more adjectives that are used when a woman tries to break any type of glass ceiling.
But the tougher the rhetoric gets, the more I am convinced that her addition to the Democratic ticket was the best choice that Vice President Biden could have made and one that will make a big difference in November.
If you watched Sen. Harris at various congressional hearings you had to admire her piercing questions to Senator Jeff Sessions and judicial candidate Brett Kavanaugh.
Asking Sessions about his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign isn’t exactly nasty. Asking Justice Kavanaugh if he can name any laws that deal with men’s bodies isn’t exactly reckless. In both instances, the two men were flustered and unable to give a stock answer.
By any measure, Sen. Harris has been a model legislator. She attends Congressional hearings and asks key questions. She does her homework and shows it at negotiations on important legislation. She is a vigorous fighter for her state and takes positions on controversial subjects, even if they are unpopular at home.
Her colleagues on both sides of the aisle consider her smart and avoid engaging her directly on some issues for fear she will outshine them. There are many fine members of Congress but by all standards, she is a cut above most of them.
During the next few months, the Republican Party will try to define her in ways that just don’t fit.
She isn’t a “leftist,” unless you think being in favor of Medicare for All, is some form of a left-wing conspiracy.
She isn’t “soft on crime” and her record as a district attorney and attorney feneral is proof that she has been a strong defender of the laws. And she is not in favor of defunding law enforcement.
She is well informed on national security issues having been an active member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
But she is now in the middle of the political arena and you can expect her to be attacked from every angle possible.
She will be met with mean-spirited attacks about her Indian and Jamaican heritage. They will go after her Jewish husband and seek ways to undermine his professionalism. They will whisper about her single life and the fact that at one time she dated former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.
Once you are in the national spotlight your opponents will throw everything at you but the kitchen sink.
But here is a message to the opposition.
Kamala Harris is not just a “safe” candidate. She can handle herself in tough times and knows how to respond to attacks with vigor. She is fast on her feet and will do well with the media. She will make mistakes like all candidates but will recover quickly.
She will slice and dice Vice President Mike Pence at their only debate. She will fiercely defend Joe Biden from unfair attacks.
I get a great sense of satisfaction watching President Trump attack Kamala Harris with the same old party playbook, unable to pierce her steely presence.
The two other women picked for this role in the past, Geraldine Ferraro and Sara Palin, never brought to the game what Kamala Harris brings. So let the games begin. Joe Biden made the right choice at the right time.