Elections

Kamala Harris Is No Moderate

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during the second night of the first Democratic presidential candidates debate in Miami, Fla., June 27, 2019. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Kamala Harris, they assure us, is a “moderate.”

A moderate what? Moderate compared to whom?

Senator Harris is a moderate autocrat. During the Democratic primary debates, she vowed to ban so-called assault weapons by executive order. When Joe Biden pointed out that the president has no such power and is obliged to follow the Constitution, she laughed in his face. As attorney general in California, she abused her investigatory and prosecutorial powers to harass conservative-leaning policy groups and was part of an alliance of Democratic attorneys general that tried to make a crime out of “climate denial,” effectively seeking to criminalize dissent by pretending that it amounts to securities fraud, of all things. She seeks to incarcerate the parents of truant children, and in California worked overtime to uphold unjust convictions obtained through official misconduct and the fabrication of evidence.

Senator Harris is a moderate anti-Catholic bigot. Together with Senator Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii), Harris argued that Brian Buescher, currently on the U.S. District Court for Nebraska, was unfit to serve on the bench because he is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic social-service organization — “an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men,” as Harris and Hirono put it. Senator Harris demanded: “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?” As though that were distinct from what the Catholic Church teaches at large.

Senator Harris is a moderate monopolist on health care, one who promises to abolish all existing health plans in favor of a single government-administered system. We are not sure what that is “moderate” in comparison to, inasmuch as it would create in the United States a statist system far more centralized and regimented than what is the case in Switzerland or Germany. We are squinting to see a definition of “moderate” in the American context that is “only slightly to the left of Norway.”

Senator Harris’s health-care moderation is complemented by her moderately fervent embrace of open borders. She favors providing federal health-care benefits to illegal immigrants, but that’s presumably on its way toward being a moderate position, too, since they wouldn’t be illegal if she had her way. That is because on immigration, she is a moderate in the sense that she endorses the decriminalization of unauthorized entry into the United States but would not actually load up a truck and make a coyote run herself.

Put another way: She would decriminalize unauthorized border crossing while criminalizing health insurance. This is a funny kind of moderation.

Senator Harris is a moderate ignoramus on the Constitution, proposing that the states be forced to obtain “pre-clearance” from the federal government before making changes to their abortion policies. Her moderate ignorance here is deployed in the service of her instinct toward moderate abortion fanaticism.

About all this, she has been, at best, moderately honest.

Her moderate honesty was very much on display during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, making a despicable spectacle of herself and the Senate in her treatment of the tawdry — and, it is worth remembering, false — allegations against Kavanaugh. She insisted that Democrats’ losing that fight would “cloud the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.”

It is possible to exaggerate the legitimate concerns about Joe Biden’s age and health. But it is not unreasonable to understand, as many Democrats and Republicans both do, that a Biden presidency might very well evolve into a kind of regency in which the fragile-seeming and forgetful man who would be 82 years old at the end of his first term acts as a placeholder until a suitable replacement comes of age, as it were. The leading candidate for such a successor would be his vice president, in this case a self-serving and dishonest politico who was moderately corrupt as an attorney general, moderately abusive as a senator, and now moderately dangerous to the rule of law.

Americans should be moderately terrified.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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