The Corner


A Minor Injustice

Sen. Kamala Harris at the Democratic presidential primary debate in Atlanta, Ga., November 20, 2019. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The New York Times called Senator Harris a “pragmatic moderate” when Biden chose her, a description that makes sense only if you’ve been reading too much Jacobin. Janet Hook labeled her a “centrist” in the Los Angeles Times. And David Byler applied the term “small-c conservative” about her in the Washington Post.

But wait! One of those things is not like the others. Byler says she’s “a small-c conservative pick” because she “isn’t apt to cause any problems for Biden on the campaign trail” and “she’ll help Biden run out the clock.” He’s saying selecting her is “conservative” in the same way a low-risk, low-return investment strategy is. That’s a debatable claim, of course, as is his actual description of Harris’s placement on the ideological spectrum (not moderate, but “far less liberal than” Senators Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders”).

Conservatives are right to criticize how every Democratic nominee inevitably gets described as moderate, and both Hook and the New York Times are fair game. To lump Byler’s “small-c conservative” comment with them is to misquote him. There are more than enough real examples of bias to go around.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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