Your reactions to Kamala Harris announcement?

Joe and Kamala

I’ve been too busy to write another full post this afternoon, and will be for awhile.

But I thought I’d give you a place to discuss Joe Biden’s decision to name Kamala Harris as his running mate.

A couple of you have mentioned it already on other posts. For instance, Randle said:

Biden chose wisely. Not my first choice, but it gives us another window into his character. No grudges, a willingness to accept criticism and no fear of an “ambitious “ woman. Onward.

That says it well. It’s so much a part of who Joe is that he dismissed my biggest objection to her — her particularly egregious attempt to sabotage him in that first debate. Joe doesn’t care. Maybe I shouldn’t, either.

But now that I’m faced with it, I realize that was more or less my only objection. By contrast, I had many profound objections to Elizabeth Warren, and we all dodged a number of bullets when he didn’t name Susan Rice. I was worrying again about her just this morning. In a piece that was pretty much a roadmap to the problems the GOP could have thrown at her, Bret Stephens reminded me why she was my least-favorite member of Obama’s national security team.

So, welcome, Kamala. Let’s get this done now.

If y’all start discussing it, I’ll join in later….


68 thoughts on “Your reactions to Kamala Harris announcement?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You weren’t being picky at this point, were you, Noah? 🙂

      Seriously, I’m feeling way better about it than I expected. I’m glad that the decision has been made. And now that it HAS been made, I’m nodding my head and ready to move forward….

      I had been in kind of a funk ever since Amy Klobuchar dropped out, worrying about which way things would go. You can’t always get what you want, but maybe we have gotten what we need…

        1. bud

          Tragically Trump has co-opted this Rolling Stones hit for their own damn rallies. But Kamala is just what Biden needs right now. She’s feisty, intelligent and unlikely to become a gaff machine the way Sarah Palin was. Plus she’s 20 years younger than Biden. All in all this is a great pick. No doubt the Republicans have done their homework and likely have plenty of “inventing the internet” moments to unleash. But that would have been true of any pick.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Hey, I’m ready for that ploy. I’m pretty sure she did NOT invent the internet. I won’t let them try to steal the glory from my old Tennessee homeboy Al…

  1. Doug T

    I don’t liker her. I don’t trust her. She’s an empty pants-suit. Remember her flip flopping on Medicare for all?

    …and when asked about the sexual assault accusations against Joe Mrs. Harris said she believed the woman.

    …and remember after the SC primary when Mayor Pete, Klobuchar, Beto all jumped on Joe’s bandwagon? Who held out until the last just in case someone else would grab the nomination?

    Susan Rice or Mayor Bottoms would have made Joe a better VP.

  2. Ken

    Not quite the bland Tim Kaine moment of this election season, but aside form the novel identity element she represents, it’s not far from it.
    Unless she for some reason becomes a liability to Biden, she won’t change the fundamental character of the race. It is and likely will remain a referendum on the incumbent.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      “Unless she for some reason becomes a liability to Biden, she won’t change the fundamental character of the race. It is and likely will remain a referendum on the incumbent.”

      I concur.

    2. Barry

      Yes, but I think she will energize some of the under 40 vote with black Americans. That will only help Biden.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, y’all know Doug Ross swore off the blog for 2020 at New Years, but I want to share with you an email from him from this morning. He wanted to remind me that he had sent me the following two weeks ago:

    Waiting on the Biden VP choice. I think it will be Harris.. not sure if you saw but
    it appears she’s had a lot of work done on her face recently. Botox, cheek fillers, etc.
    Don’t think she’d do that unless she expected to be on TV a lot.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      He later added this:

      Although it probably breaks my resolution, my thoughts on Harris:

      First, I don’t have a dog in this hunt. I won’t vote for Trump or Biden. I’ll vote libertarian… Although I will vote for Harrison over Graham. So nothing I think about Harris is about my preference, just my perceptions of the race.

      I think the Trump campaign is probably thrilled that Joe selected Harris. It sets up the easiest campaign ads in history. Just show Harris confronting Joe in the debate. Her own words. She will have to say that she was just playing politics because that’s what you do in a campaign. Which then sets up the question for the next three months whenever she makes a statement: is this the truth or just something you are saying to fool voters?
      And Joe has to keep saying the black woman who said he had some issues with race was wrong. Not a good look.

      Her background of being tough on crime is going to be an interesting sell these days. I expect a lot of backpedaling and hypocrital statements from her in the coming weeks. Which will probably satisfy the Democratic lemmings who believe anything Rachel Maddow feeds them… But will it cost some votes from the Defund the police crowd?

      It’s an electoral college election so it’s going to come down to at most six states. If Trump wins Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio he can be re-elected. And that will depend on two things: COVID cases continuing to trend downward and people going back to work. If the unemployment rate is under 10% by November, it’s going to be a closer race than Democrats think.

      And let’s not forget that Joe has been in a bubble for five months. How he handles the debates will be extremely important. Trump will bait him into saying something dumb.

      I asked a young fully committed Democrat a question yesterday… she had told me she actually cried when Trump was elected. . The question was: Are you personally worse off today (aside from COVID) than you were 3.5 years ago? And she had to admit that the Trump presidency had little impact on her life. I think that there are many black and Hispanic voters who might agree.. in fact, I would be willing to bet Trump will get MORE black and Hispanic votes than in 2016. It’s the perpetually outraged white woke voters who will swing the election.

      Nate Silver today has Biden at 71% chance of winning. Exactly the same as Hillary at the same time. That should scare Democrats.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Personally, I’m not scared. But then, I’m not a Democrat.

        And then, not being “scared” doesn’t mean I don’t worry. I worry a LOT. It’s essential that the Restoration come, that we put a normal, decent human being in the White House again.

        If we don’t, that’s pretty much it for the American experiment. You know how Winston Churchill gets quoted all time for saying, “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried?” Well, if Trump is re-elected, we can drop the last part. That will be it for this system. We will just slide further into Idiocracy. Which isn’t that great a movie, especially now that it’s come true. Although I do occasionally use the quote about electrolytes.

        I find polls to be interesting — especially exit polls, because they measure something that actually happened.

        But while 71 percent is encouraging, it’s not a promise — ever. Once some is the nominee of either major party, he or she is just a hair away from being elected, depending on events leading up to the election. The voting public is split right down the middle, and it only takes a few bolting at the last minute to switch the result.

        We’ve never had — in my lifetime — a presidential election this important. We either restore the promise of this whole America thing, or we’re done. We’re a joke. We’re hopeless.

        So I’ll be uneasy until the last vote is counted, and Joe is elected…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            We are ALL part of the problem, Bill. But we can all be part of the solution. (See how I added something more encouraging at the end, there?)

        1. Barry

          There is no reason to worry or be scared. That’s a waste of time.

          I guess I’m just too old and I just laugh out loud when I see people attack folks like Biden‘s VP pick by bringing up things in the past that their own favorite politicians have also done in the past. It’s so disingenuous.

          It’s like they pretend that we haven’t seen Trump and conservatives flip-flop all over the place.

          I’m glad Biden chose someone that will call them what they are. Conservatives tell me they love it when trump is honest and says it Like he sees it and doesn’t care about politeness.

          Here is hoping Harris rams that back in their face. Will they love it when she calls it as she sees it? Something tells me we are going to see conservatives all of a sudden revert back to liking respect and decorum. LOL

      2. Barry

        Doug is wrong, as usual.

        I do enjoy his comments. He clearly hasn’t changed. Doug approaches politics with the Rush Limbaugh model- accuse the other side of something you do yourself. Attack the other side of doing it, call them names, and then do it yourself.

        For example, Doug wrote “ Which then sets up the question for the next three months whenever she makes a statement: is this the truth or just something you are saying to fool voters?”

        LOL. Remember all the awful, terrible names Trump called many of his republicans opponents and others in congress? Saying they were worthless and didn’t do anything, etc. Then he praised many of them, attacked them, etc………

        As if Doug’s personal favorites don’t do the exact thing he attacks others as doing. So amusing

        Jonathan Swan on Fox News just said that Trump campaign officials were hoping and thinking Biden would pick Karen Bass. They had already spent money on ads attacking Bass and had them ready to go.

        Swan, who recently interviewed Trump, said campaign officials thought Harris would be a tougher opponent.

        Harris is more of a fighter and will give as good as she gets. She has no issue attacking and playing the attack role.

        1. Doug Ross

          Taking a mulligan on my resolution to let you know Barry that it is miserable anonymous gutless idiots like you that caused me to leave this blog. I fully understand why you’ve lost friends over your Trump derangement. I pity everyone who has to deal with your manufactured outrage. The only reason I hope Trump wins is so that people like you get another for years of misery. See you in January.

            1. Barry

              I’m sorry he felt compelled to call me an “idiot”

              I consider it a nice compliment though.

              You always have to consider the source.

              And by the way I never say anything on here that I wouldn’t tell him in person

          1. Barry

            “The only reason i hope Trump wins“….. LOL


            As my daughter says, being phony is never ok.

            Good to see you violate your resolution because of little ole me.

  4. bud

    People like Doug are strangely inoculated to the extraordinary failures of Trump. He failed badly as a businessman and now as president. To ask whether you’re better off if you exclude COVID is like asking if the Titanic’s maiden voyage was a success absent the whole iceberg incident. COVID is the crises of the Trump presidency and he has failed it spectacularly. To suggest that an unemployment rate under 10% is somehow a success shows just how low the bar has gotten. Folks like Doug see what they want to see regardless of any evidence. Yet millions are willing to see black as white. Which is why Trump has a 30% chance of winning. But, in the words of our senile POTUS – It is what it is.

    1. Barry

      People like that aren’t inoculated. They just have that Trump blind spot. People like that accuse the other side of doing what they themselves do. It’s completely phony. But it’s obvious too. Just recognize it and call them out on it every single time.

      Of course they don’t want to blame Trump for COVID, but these same people would gladly blame Obama or a democrat for it, or for the response to it –

      Imagine if a democrat had said back in February any of the following 3 statements. Those same folks would have had coronaries ripping any democrat president saying any such thing. Here are those irresponsible and wrong comments:

      January 24: “ China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”

      February 10: “ I had a long talk with President Xi — for the people in this room — two nights ago, and he feels very confident. He feels very confident. And he feels that, again, as I mentioned, by April or during the month of April, the heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus,”

      February 26: “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done,”

      This is the same crowd that filled their shorts when Obama dared to wear a tan suit.

  5. bud

    Here are a few other “successes” in history:

    Except for that unfortunate incident with the Serbian nationalist the Crown Prince’s diplomatic trip to Sarajevo was a great success.

    Other than the knives incident Caesar’s meeting with the Roman senate was productive.

    Except for a bit of bad weather the Donner party had a great road trip.

    Other than that incident on 9/11 W kept us safe

    The Midway operation went well for the Japanese other than those pesky dive bombers.

    Other than the interruption by that rude Oswald fellow the trip to Dallas was enjoyable for the Kennedys.

    Custer’s trip to Little Big Horn was uneventful except for the somewhat rough greeting by a few rogue Indians.

  6. Bryan Caskey

    Nice to see the UAE and Israel normalizing relations. If some of the other Arab Gulf States follow along (Bahrain, Qatar) could Saudi Arabia also follow? That would be a big deal. Would be nice if everyone in the middle east settled down a little.

    1. bud

      This is the non story of the year. Israel still treats the Palestinians as second class citizens. They have an indicted criminal as its leader. This is nothing to excited about.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        I’m not “excited” about it. I’m pleased that two nations who previously had not had formal diplomatic relations now do. Notorious right-wing AP called it a “diplomatic win”.

        Clearly, it’s a win for everyone other than Iran. The UAE gets to be seen as tolerant of Israel, and they can say they “stopped” the annexation. Israel breaks through with normalized relations with an Arab state. It’s a bit of a mixed bag for the Palestinians: they get a halt to Israeli annexation, but they can’t like an Arab nation normalizing relations with Israel without a full settlement. Perhaps this is a consequence of the Palestinian relationship with Iran. It certainly should make the Palestinians consider some diplomatic moves.

  7. Mark

    Kamala Harris was my first choice way back when in another time and place. January feels like it was pre-millennium.

    I think the calculus for Biden was that she is a fighter. Karen Bass is a policy wonk. These aren’t wonky times. We are going to need to really turn things around, not just politically, but morally and civically, too; in big, bold rhetorical gestures. Enough with the Trumpism – whatever that is – it is nothing but the well-trod road to ruin he has lived, and failed, his entire adult life.

    Kamala will enable Joe to remain the good guy to Trump’s endless barrages of deranged ad hominum attacks. She will be the articulate, aggressive debater for which Trump will have no answer. Poor Mike Pence is already calling for “Mother.” Also, Nikki Haley is now totally sidelined. It had begun to feel like Trump was holding her as some sort of ace up the sleeve; that’s been torpedoed now.

    So whatever the first-blush optics of Harris as a VP pick, at the end of the day she brings the goods we all need to get this scourge of America out of office. History is not going to be kind to Trump’s “base” for they have brought a great stain upon our nation.

    While I take Doug at his word, he still has more than two months to reconsider his Presidential vote. I was pleased to see he is going to vote for Harrison, however, so hope remains…

    1. Barry

      Excellent points.

      I will say this – and this is just one tiny story- a coworker of mine who rarely talks politics (and I still don’t know his politics for sure) mentioned that he thought Harris was nice looking.

      I didn’t think much of it but the way he talked about it was as if Biden’s pick caught his attention. He talked positively of her (Thought she looked good, thought she was smart, said she sounded like she wouldn’t take a back seat to anyone)- but didn’t mention any policies, politics, etc..

      I don’t consider this coworker a political person – at least from what I can tell compared to some of my other coworkers. He might simply be someone that doesn’t have time to think about politics and avoids it as much as possible. For example, I’ve don’t think I’ve ever heard him say anything about Trump, Obama, etc.

      If just a few % of folks react the same way he does (people that just don’t follow politics like those on this board do) and they follow that up with a vote for Biden and Harris because they just personally like her, Biden will win.

      That’s not a prediction. That’s just a thought to their positive that I don’t think Hillary Clinton ever got the benefit of (at least not from me).

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I keep meaning to say this. Almost said it in response to something Barry said, but then decided to wait and do a separate post. Since I haven’t done that… I’ll just say.

      I hope Mark was wrong when he speculated that “the calculus for Biden was that she is a fighter.”

      That’s the last thing we need — someone who engages politics the way, ahem, Donald Trump does.

      It’s always been my main objection to Elizabeth Warren — she just won’t stop saying “fight” over and over — and I never really thought about it much with regard to Kamala because, well, I’ve never thought that much about her.

      But yeah, I guess that is part of her character. After all, my biggest objection to her was the unconscionable way she tried to “fight” against Joe in that debate.

      And if so, that will be my one biggest objection to her going forward…

      Yeah, I know it’s a traditional part of the role of the running mate, so the presidential candidate (a normal presidential candidate, not a Trump) can stay above the fray.

      But I’ve never liked it, and I don’t like it now…

      1. Bob Amundson

        Political “fighting” replaces a great amount of physical combat (aka “WAR”). Civility is nice, but that is not human nature. “Fight” fire with fire …

        1. bud

          Yep, we need a fighter. Trump just said Kamala Harris is ineligible to be POTUS because she’s an anchor baby. Also, he’s meddling with the Post Office to make it harder to vote. Trump has no qualms about fighting. It’s high time we fight back Hard!

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          I suppose I’ll have to write that separate post on the subject, to explore it in more detail.

          This election is about restoring our civilization. You don’t accomplish that by stooping to the level of the barbarians…

          1. Ken

            No need.
            Just hit that special key that automatically re-posts your dislike of politicians using the word “fight.”

          2. bud

            Barbarians? That’s a bit hyperbolic don’t you think? What we
            need is someone who stridently explain why Trump and the Republicans have failed and how Biden can succeed. It doesn’t mean juvenile name calling but it does mean not suffering fools.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I was talking about civilization. About saving civilization, which is what this election is about.

              Traditionally, when we speak in historic terms about that which threatens civilization, we use the term “barbarians.” We’ve been using it for about 2,000 years.

              All it means, originally, is “men who wear beards” — because to the Romans, a beard marked you as being something other than a part of their civilization. At least, that was the case in Julius Caesar’s day, and through the earlier emperors. In later centuries, you even see emperors wearing beards.

              But basically in all the centuries since then, it has come to be used to represent those who are not of, or are a threat to, civilization.

              Which I think perfectly fits the role Donald Trump plays in our civilization that we’ve been building in this country since 1776, or 1789 if you prefer. I don’t think it to be at all hyperbolic. Do you have a better term for someone who has no respect at all for common decency, much less for our system of the rule of law? If so, maybe we can use that one.

              But whatever word you use for it, to get this country back on the track of building a more decent place for human beings to live, we need to make sure we’re not stooping to the low level of such people…

      2. Mark

        Brad, I think we use “fighter” in different ways here.

        One thing I think we can all agree upon is that Trump is absolutely relentless. Beyond that, we all diverge. It is going to take someone who can persevere through this barrage and continue to make articulate, compelling messaging. The more Joe Biden can be Joe, the better it will be for the Democrats. Harris can give him that cover to stay folksy and inclusive. She won’t have any problem countering his stupidity, meanness, lying, incoherence, narcissism, racism, pettiness and overall smallness. She will fight by being relentlessly articulate and flashing the strength that deflects his attacks. Trump has always found that to be what he cannot counter.

        The Biden campaign doesn’t need opposition research, it needs to study psychology and use that knowledge against Trump, and against his addled campaign supporters and his “base.”

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Mark, there are a bunch of problems with “fight,” and here’s one of them: It says that one’s opponents are the enemy. In the same sense as the soldiers of Imperial Japan in 1941-45.

          Trump and his people are horrible people. They are, as I said and it seemed to offend Bud, barbarians. They are rending and tearing at the foundations of what makes our country a good and decent idea — something worth, if you will, fighting for. But are they enemies? Are we prepared to kill them? Or simply walk up to them on a debate stage and punch them as hard as we can? No. I’m not, anyway.

          And from what I’ve seen, most people in politics aren’t prepared to do those things, either.

          So what they do, to charge up the emotions of their respective bases, is water down the word, “fight.” I think this is something that people who have never fought — never served in the military, or found themselves in a life-and-death physical struggle with man or beast (and this describes most people in 21st-century America) — find it easy to do. Too easy.

          It’s related in a way to one of the reasons I don’t like football. I listen to people talk about it, and I hear them imbuing the activity with the importance and deadly stakes of engaging in warfare. They use very similar language. And when they do so, to me they’re cheapening both sport and actual warfare.

          I’m reminded of the VPS treatments — Violent Passion Surrogates — in Brave New World. The people live in a society that is too easy and bland for the human nervous system, which evolved to deal with conflict and overcome serious problems. So to stay healthy, people have to undergo a chemical treatment that gives their bodies an emotional workout. The way some people talk about sports and politics, it’s like they’re going through a VPS.

          And just as I don’t like hearing people speak of a game that way, I don’t like it in politics. Politics, in a properly designed and practiced political system, is our way out of warfare. It’s our way of rising above a Hobbesian “Nature red in tooth and claw.”

          We do that by running for office. We do it by offering better ideas, and expressing them well. And we do it by being better people, and demonstrating it by our behavior while campaigning.

          We don’t do it by “fighting.”…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Speaking of civilization vs. fighting…

            I liked David Brooks’ latest column, in which he talks about the important role that radicals play in raising important issues and getting people to listen.

            But then he moves on the equally important point that radicals don’t bring about positive change. That’s always left to someone in the political center:

            In the 1770s, the rabble-rousing Samuel Adams gave way to the more moderate John Adams (not to mention George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton). In the middle of the 19th century, radicals like John Brown and purists like Horace Greeley gave way to the incrementalist Abraham Lincoln. In the Progressive era, the radicals and anarchists who started the labor movement in the 1880s gave way to Theodore Roosevelt.

            Radicals are not good at producing change because while they are good at shaking up the culture, they don’t have practical strategies to pass legislation when you have to get the support of 50 percent plus one.

            They also tend to divide the world into good people and bad people. They think they can bring change if they can destroy enough bad people, and so they devolve into a purist, destructive force that offends potential allies….

            That last paragraph is the critical part to me.

            I reject the approach of people who “divide the world into good people and bad people,” because they think things will be fine “”if they can destroy enough bad people.”

            People, in other words, who think it’s about “fighting…”

            1. bud

              Sorry Brad but you are just not a moderate. You’re not. You’re pretty damn radical. An extremist to the core. It’s bizarre and a bit frightening that someone who is ok with imprisonment for drug offenses. You and your neocon brethren are the ones who support actual fighting. Damn you can’t write two sentences without waxing nostalgic about some war or battle. I maintain that we need a political fight. Actually we already have a fight. We just need to fight back. The entire GOP is dangerous and shouldn’t be regarded as an entity that can be reasoned with. They’ve morphed into something dangerous. All this happy talk about civility is misguided. We’re not talking about issues, where to set the minimum wage for example. I wish we were. We’re talking about the integrity of this election. If that’s not worth fighting for nothing is.

              1. Bob Amundson

                I agree totally with Bud. Life During Wartime: “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around. No time for dancing, or lovey dovey, I ain’t got time for that now.”

              2. Brad Warthen Post author

                Bud, if you’re going to holler at me, do it on the basis of fact.

                I’m not going to argue all day by taking this point by point — I’ve got something I’m scheduled to do at 2 — but let’s take one thing: Who, precisely, “is ok with imprisonment for drug offenses.”

                As I’ve said many times, imprisonment is one of those areas where libertarian Doug and I are simpatico. I don’t think we should be locking up non-violent offenders….

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    You changed the subject.

                    But in answer to your joking question: Probably not. The most you’ll see me do along those lines was what I did for James and Mandy in 2018. I’m still sort of undecided on medical cannabis, but they were for it, and I helped them put their message out. I didn’t mind doing that since I don’t really DISagree with them; I’m just not fully on board…

            2. James Edward Cross

              Um, along with Samuel he was considered a leader of the radical faction of the Continental Congress. He became the foremost supporter of independence from Great Britain. A pretty radical stance, no?

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                You talking about John?

                All the difference in the world.

                Samuel was mainly known for demonstrating in the streets.

                John was (who defended the soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre) about the Rule of Law. He was duly elected to serve in Congress, and he energetically led Congress toward a duly considered resolution to declare the colonies’ independence from Britain. (Jefferson sat there like a lump all through the debate, saying zip, and then dutifully wrote the Declaration that Adams essentially delegated to him.)

                That’s why John was my kind of guy. He made it official, and legitimate…

                1. James Edward Cross

                  I am afraid that the view of Samuel Adams that you and Brooks share is sorely outdated. It rose during the late 19th century and into the 1930’s during a period where US historians were leery of contemporary revolutions and there was some regret over the split from Great Britain because of improved relations. Doubts about this view arose in the 1970’s and have only increased.

                  Samuel Adams was viewed by his contemporaries as one of the important leaders of the Revolution. He served in the Second Continental Congress. He helped write the Articles of Confederation and, along with his cousin John, the Massachusetts State Constitution. He opposed Shay’s Rebellion and, after much thought, supported the ratification of the U.S. Constitution although he, like others, was interested in further amending it to include what would become the Bill of Rights. He became a firm supporter of the Constitution after their passage and, unlike a number of Republicans in the state, supported the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion.

                  He was a Massachusetts state senator (often serving as its president), lt. governor, and governor for four terms.

                  There have been two relatively recent biographies of Adams, one by John K. Alexander (2002) and another by Ira Stoll (2008). You might want to give one of them a read.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Well, I thank you for sharing all of that, James, but none of that is really inconsistent with my impression of Samuel. Perhaps because I studied that period in college in the 1970s rather than the 1930s.

                    Not only do I agree that “Samuel Adams was viewed by his contemporaries as one of the important leaders of the Revolution.” I’d go further. I’d say that he’s viewed that way by our own contemporaries. Always has been.

                    It’s kind of like the deal with Thomas Jefferson. All my life — and all of American history, really — Jefferson has been THE great hero of our founding, especially with regard to the moment of the Declaration.

                    But I’ve always honored Samuel’s cousin more than Jefferson, and more than Samuel as well. There are a lot of reasons for that. They include the fact that John was the guy who brought about the declaration of independence. He argued the Congress into making the move. Jefferson was just the guy who wrote the document, at Adams’ insistence.

                    I honor Jefferson for the job he did writing it. How could I not, as a scribe myself? I consider the properly-crafted words to be hugely importance, always. Jefferson had talent, and Adams saw it, and enlisted him to put his talent to good use.

                    I also honor Jefferson for other things. I think he did a good job as president, with a range of things from the Barbary Pirates to the Louisiana Purchase. And for being the sort of Renaissance man who took such interest in that purchase that he personally set up and advised Lewis in his expedition with Clark. It’s wonderful to have had a president with such an inquiring mind.

                    I look up to Jefferson for the things that made him John Adams’ good friend when they were young — and again in old age, after they’d settled their disagreements, right up to the day they both died, on the nation’s 50th birthday.

                    But I have my complaints about him, too. I disagree with his proto-libertarianism. I’m appalled at his admiration of the French Revolution well after the time that he should have turned his back on it.

                    And I have a big problem with his being a slaveholder — more so than I do with Washington, for instance. Jefferson was an intellectual, a man of fine sensibilities, and he KNEW better. But he just couldn’t let go of it, could he? After all, having slaves is what enabled him to be such a Renaissance man, and dabble in all the things that interested him.

                    It doesn’t make me hate him, but it makes me respect him less than I would otherwise. And it makes me respect him less than (John) Adams…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Kind of went off on a tangent there, didn’t I?

                      Here’s a tangent on the tangent: I have occasionally heard things from some of the folks who have been marching lately that reminds me of Donald Trump. Oh, don’t make a mistake: They’re as different as night and day. They are motivated by caring about the right things; he is motivated by nothing but his own interest, and his interests are foul.

                      But you know how he’s always revealing that he’s just learned something that a man with a mind (and his advantageous access to education) would have known 50 or 60 years earlier? He’ll always say “a lot of people don’t know,” and that’s the signal that HE didn’t know.

                      I’ve heard social-justice warriors say things like, “We need to learn more about our history. We all need to know that Washington and Jefferson owned slave.” (Although they may use the current formulation, “enslaved people.”)

                      And I always think, “Who didn’t know that?” Where are these legions of people who studied history in school and didn’t learn that?

                      And it’s particularly shocking that this comes from people who CARE about the world, and about social justice, and who ought to have a clearer understanding of history. They’re not Trumps.

                      I suppose it comes from their being young. Maybe they only learned such things recently. And maybe that’s the source of their rage at the statues. The fact that we live in a sin-stained world, and that that applies to the subjects of most statues (I’ll except Jesus and his mother) as well. And that maybe we need to distinguish between the people who are being honored FOR THEIR EVIL, such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, and those who being honored for other things, such as Jefferson.

                      Anyway, that’s enough of that digression…

                    2. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Oh, and to be clear, I don’t hear that a LOT from folks on the social-justice left. Not like with Trump. But I have heard it, and it has stuck in my mind, and I’ve wondered at it….

                    3. Brad Warthen Post author

                      And of course, Trump is right about one thing: A lot of people in our society DON’T know fundamental things they SHOULD know. In part because of all the time they’ve wasted watching reality TV. But this doesn’t just apply to his fans…

                2. Bob Amundson

                  “And it’s particularly shocking that this comes from people who CARE about the world, and about social justice, and who ought to have a clearer understanding of history. They’re not Trumps. I suppose it comes from their being young. Maybe they only learned such things recently. And maybe that’s the source of their rage at the statues.”

                  REALLY BRAD?! Give us old timer social justice warriors some credit. We are the foundation of this nascent movement.

                  OK BOOMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Fighting words!

                    But seriously, if it’s older people, it’s more puzzling. Those statues have been there our whole lives. Why wait until now?

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