Spirited Reasoners will recall posts focusing on Stacey Abrams and Susan Rice as potential running mates for Joe Biden, all the while recognizing that Kamala Harris might still enjoy the inside track. Today we take a look at the one candidate whose positive attributes, and lack of negatives (read “baggage”) could vault her past the other three and into the winner’s circle. All information included herein has been drawn from Wikipedia, her Congressional website, and her Facebook page.
Rep. Karen Bass represents California’s 37th Congressional District, which is based in the heart of Los Angeles. Although that geographical area was redistricted after the 2010 Census, she has served that approximate region in Congress since 2011. Prior to that, she served for six years in the California State Assembly and was elected speaker in 2008. Because of her leadership in crafting a successful legislative response to California’s budget crisis of 2008-2010 that involved compromises with Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, she was awarded the 2010 Profile in Courage Award along with three colleagues.
Rep. Bass has won reelection to her seat with over 80% of the vote in every race since her first election. She currently chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights. She earned her bachelor of science degree in health sciences from California State University-Dominguez Hills, and her master of social work degree from the University of Southern California. Her voting record and policy views place her squarely within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
But, you may ask, didn’t the Spirited Reasoner rave about the qualifications of both Stacey Abrams and Susan Rice, giving the latter a slight advantage in terms of education and foreign policy experience? And shouldn’t Kamala Harris’s experience as a campaigner and money raiser count for something?
The Spirited Reasoner’s response is that Rep. Bass would bring to the ticket at least as many positives, but—and here’s the key—far fewer negatives than the other three candidates.
Knocks against Kamala Harris include her lack of empathy for those wrongly accused of crimes during her stint as California’s Attorney General. She is also remembered for her attacks on Joe Biden during several televised debates during the spring primaries and for her relatively poor showing when it came to earning delegates of her own.
Knocks against Stacey Abrams include her lack of federal governmental experience and her recent loss to a Republican in the Georgia’s gubernatorial race (though the latter might easily be spun into a positive, given the winner’s unfair control of the voting machinery due to his holding the office of Secretary of State during the election.)
Knocks against Susan Rice include lingering controversy over public statements she made in 2012 about extremist attacks against U. S. diplomatic offices in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and five other Americans. Although she was cleared, even by Republican-controlled Congressional committees, of any intentional misstatements, her selection by Joe Biden would almost certainly result in a dredging up, by President Trump and his supporters, of those (highly unfair) allegations.
Rep. Karen Bass, at least to the knowledge of this Spirited Reasoner, does not suffer from those type of potential distractions. For that reason alone, we may consider her to be the frontrunner at this point.
ADDENDUM: Just after publishing this post, an interesting “hit piece” appeared, questioning remarks Rep. Bass made in the distant past. One set of remarks, from 2010, seemed to indicate that she was favorable toward the Church of Scientology, often viewed as a cult. The other, from 2016, involved her expressions of praise for Fidel Castro on the occasion of his death. With regard to the former, she has stated that she attends a Baptist church and often attempts to find common ground with other denominations whenever possible. With regard to the latter, she has stated that she now realizes she could have chosen better words had she known some people in Cuban communities of Florida might take offense to her earlier remarks. The Spirited Reasoner does not believe either of these cases rises to the level of negative “baggage.”