WASHINGTON: Whatever your politics, Kamala Harris had a good night in Miami. Her performance in Part 2 of the first Democratic debate was well-planned, carefully executed, ruthless and impressive.
The Democrats’ unsustainable herd
The herd of Democratic candidates for the presidency is astonishingly large. Watching them gather in Miami was like watching a herd of wildebeest descend on a water hole. How can there be so many? How can they all survive? A political ecologist might say that this herd is unhealthily large, too large to be sustainable on the current political landscape. The herd is overgrazing, consuming too many media and donor resources, weakening its strongest members and leaving them susceptible to GOP predators.
Enter Kamala Harris. Her treatment of front-runner Joe Biden was brutal. It came close to elder abuse. We shouldn’t go around beating up helpless, daft old men. But while Biden is unarguably old and arguably daft, he’s far from helpless. He only looked helpless as Harris bore in on him with panache, cold deliberation, and ruthless efficiency.
Kamala Harris: A mind of iron and wheels
This was no drive-by shooting. Harris carefully prepared and exquisitely executed a political kneecapping. She isn’t yet strong enough to decapitate Biden with a stroke, nor can she deliver a bullet to his brain. But like a movie velociraptor attacking a T. rex, she slashed at him with impunity while he tried to understand what was happening.
It would have been sad to watch had it not been such a bravura performance.
If she couldn’t take him out, Harris showed that Biden is vulnerable. And now not just vulnerable, but wounded. But he’s wounded and standing, and T. rex can still destroy a velociraptor.
She faces more threats than Biden, too. The rest of the herd, focused as they were on Biden, Sanders and Warren, must now see that Harris is a credible challenger for dominance.
Their knives are still out for Biden, but the new alpha will have to fight Harris.
A diverse herd, but not all alpha material
Marianne Williamson’s performance, though briefer and less dramatic than Harris’s, was equally arresting. It’s said that Americans vote for the candidate they’d most like to have a beer with. Williamson has to be the candidate with whom most would enjoy smoking pot.
Rarely do you see a candidate so magnificently march to her own drummer as she did. And certainly not at a major candidate debate.
Williamson seems to be throwing herself to the predators and begging them, “eat me”. That may be part of her strategy to enter the morphic field, to connect, commune and become one with the great web of life. Most predators don’t require that their prey love them, but Williamson’s demise may bring good karma all around.
Yang, Hickenlooper, Bennett, and Swalwell showed themselves to be aggressively beta, too beta to bother remembering their first names. They yelped and growled, but they’re no bigger threat to Biden, Harris or President Trump than a box of gerbils.
Beto O’Rourke’s performance was, in its weird way, as arresting as Williamson’s and as dangerous as Hickenlooper’s. He lost stature with every second he spent on stage, seeming to dwindle and vanish before our eyes. He doesn’t want to sacrifice himself to the predators. However, he seems so devoid of basic herd intelligence that he might as well wear parsley necklaces and perfume himself with barbecue sauce.
What about Bernie and Liz?
Bernie Sanders is a dying and angry old bull, stuck in a tar pit and unaware that he’s sinking into the goo. Last night his impressive but impotent fury was loud. However, the herd seemed to realize that he’s going down.
He was front, center and noisy. He is suddenly irrelevant. As Sanders drops to the back of the back with the young, weak and feeble, Elizabeth Warren moves ahead. With an oh so polite but dismissive nod.
Knowing the predators will take the easy kill first. You know the old saying, I don’t have to run fast. Just faster than you.
Biden has spent his time rampaging pointlessly across the political landscape. As Swalwell pointed out in his high-school boy way, Biden needs culling.
Now that she’s started that process, Harris needs to go for Warren.
Pete Buttigieg is too young and small to pose a high probability threat to either of them, though luck is a wild card and he could get lucky. Rather than go after him to gut him, Harris or Warren should cultivate and mentor him.
He needs someone who can bring him into line, improve his focus and, depending on your political perspective, be the Jedi Master to his Padawan or the Sith Lord to his apprentice.
He has a future in Democratic politics, but not yet as the alpha.