The Democratic National Convention last night was all about getting women to pull Joe Biden across the finish line.
Unfortunately, this pitch centered on granddaughter of Great Society policies that already have failed and what John Podhoretz brilliantly described as having a “bizarrely condescending tone—like a ‘you go girl’ message.”
Of course it started before last night. When Mr. Biden announced Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, he said:
‘All across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today — today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way. As the stuff of presidents and vice presidents,’ the presumptive Democratic nominee said.
Does this make you want to tell Mr. Biden that you are not an idiot who falls for this sort of malarkey?
It is condescending to presume that little girls have as limited horizons here in the Year of Our Lord 2020 as Mr. Biden seems to believe. Does he not know the unprecedented opportunities that now lie before American women? Does he not know that we outnumber the guys in colleges and universities?
Former DNC chair and Fox commentator Donna Brazile outdid everybody last night. In commenting on Senator Harris’ speech, Brazile started off fine, noting the valor and fortitude of women who lived and struggled during our undeniably racially troubled history.
But then she careened off course:
[Harris] named their names. She told the story that has never been told of women who were despised simply because of what they look like.
Tonight, there are so many people who are crying, so many people who are screaming, so many people saying, ‘Now, finally, someone who looks like me can aspire to the highest office in the land,” Brazile said. “And yes, someone who dared to go to a Black college [Harris received her undergraduate degree from Howard University] can now say that ‘I am going to the White House one day.
But Hollywood and publishing tell the stories of African American women who led lives of triumph all the time. We admire and revere these women. The more hyperbolic elements of Brazile’s comments would have been fine, say, 60 years ago, but now do not reflect reality.
But numbers are numbers. And that is really what last night was about.
John Podhoretz gave a good precis of what is at stake for Democrats when it comes to the women’s vote:
Polls show Biden’s margin of support with women is somewhere between 17 and 29 percentage points, while he is either tied or slightly behind Trump with male voters.
In a more ordinary time, you’d think Biden would pocket the advantage with women and use his convention to work to boost his numbers with men — whose revulsion with Hillary Clinton in 2016 is what cost her the presidency.
But judging from the issues Biden is highlighting and the overall focus of the convention, he and his people have determined that they need to cultivate every possible vote from women voters. It’s why he announced in March he would choose a woman to run with him.
They need Black women voters to turn out in numbers closer to the astronomical ones Barack Obama generated than the merely overwhelming ones Hillary Clinton did. That’s why Biden chose Kamala Harris, even though she did not demonstrate she had that connection with African Americans during the primaries.
They need suburban women voters to turn decisively to Biden the way they did to Democratic candidates for the House in 2018, when the GOP lost 40 seats.
One current issue, which is of enormous interest to women, suburban or inner city, wasn’t addressed during the proceedings of the Democratic National Convention: public safety.
It was almost unreal that the DNC ignored this. Outside the virtual convention, many of our cities are experiencing nightly violence and rioting. Millions, if not billions, of dollars of private citizens’ property, some small businesses that provided for families, lie in ruins. New York may never come back. Chicago’s toll for death and destruction is unprecedented.
But not a word of this at the Democratic National Convention. They turned a blind eye to what is happening in our cities across our nation every night. Senator Harris has tried “to straddle the divide on the left over police reform.” She did praise Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s defunding of the police in that city.
So, if you really want to empower little girls, hire and train police to keep their neighborhoods safe from violence. It was surreal to see the convention ignore the matter of public safety, one dear to the hearts of women.
And the speakers overlooked that many little girls already have strong female role models in their lives. In the black community, these role models can be struggling mothers who fight to send their children to charter schools and who already inspire and look like them.