by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Kamala Harris introduced herself to the American public for the first time as the Democratic vice presidential nominee. … I thought the speech was fine, though not as good as Michelle Obama’s or Jill Biden’s. But Harris had a major disadvantage: She followed President Obama.
The contrast in setting was striking. Obama appeared from the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Harris spoke to an empty hotel ballroom. …
… When he burst onto the scene in 2004, he called for national unity. Now he warned that democracy might not survive a second Trump term. It was an audacious claim that is sure to stir the emotions of the Democratic base. (And those of the Republican base, too.)
The media accolades for Obama’s every utterance are a reminder of the hold he maintains on the liberal imagination. You can draw a line from Obama’s lead-from-behind administration to Donald Trump’s election, and Trump has erased many of Obama’s policies, but the former president is unimpeachable in the eyes of Bobo liberals. I’m eager to read tomorrow’s papers to see how analysts spin Harris’s address as the equivalent of Obama’s. It wasn’t.
Obama’s ability to translate his rhetorical prowess to victory for other Democrats is limited. Caught up in the reveries of his presence, Democrats always seem to forget that their party was a wreck by the time Obama left the White House. Obama made a similar case against Trump in 2016. It didn’t work. And he will keep making the case against Trump and other Republicans long into the future, whether or not his former vice president wins in November. It was reported that Obama agreed to move his speech ahead of Harris’s to signal a “passing of the torch.” Well, the torch didn’t go anywhere. This is still Barack and Michelle Obama’s Democratic Party.