Kamala Harris, Front-runner (Again) – The New York Times


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Kamala Harris is emerging as the front-runner to be Joe Biden’s running mate for one reason above all others: She is the only female African-American possibility who has the political experience typical of vice presidents.

Biden has promised to choose a woman. The current reckoning with racism — as well as the importance of black turnout — has led many Democrats to say he should choose a black running mate. And Harris is a high-profile senator who has also been California’s attorney general.

All of the other potential black female candidates are lighter on national political experience than any modern vice president. Stacey Abrams’s highest job was in the Georgia state legislature. Susan Rice has never held elected office. Others have served as mayors or in the House.

Among them, only Harris would avoid debate about whether she was ready to take over as president, a relevant question given that Biden is 77 years old. Harris also has a classic vice-presidential skill — a talent for making a sharp case against the other party — and she seems to have a personal rapport with Biden.

But like every other candidate, she has downsides, too. As The Times’s Nate Cohn put it, Harris is “at once a fairly obvious choice and a somewhat complicated one.” She rose to prominence as a prosecutor when mass incarceration and police behavior were more widely accepted. The Washington Post reported this week that Biden aides believe that Harris “increasingly makes sense” — but added that many progressive activists say she “could dampen the excitement that is crucial to the Democrats in November.”

Not all of the hesitation among Democrats is about Harris’s record as a prosecutor. Some of it is about her skills as a retail politician. Harris entered the 2020 primaries in a strong position, but many voters didn’t feel a connection with her, and she dropped out early.

When other promising new faces have emerged in recent years — like Abrams, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama — national exposure has made them more popular among Democrats. In Harris’s case, I often heard voters say that they didn’t understand what her core beliefs were (as this Times article details).

Of course, Harris will probably get better as she spends more time in the spotlight. And a vice-presidential candidate doesn’t need the animating persona that a presidential nominee does. Either way, there are no vice-presidential choices without risk.

For more: See Harris’s recent interview with The Times’s Lisa Lerer, as well as a New Yorker profile of Harris and a Politico post-mortem on her presidential campaign.

Stocks fell sharply yesterday, with the S&P 500 dropping 5.9 percent, its biggest decline in nearly three months. The decline seemed to reflect a growing recognition that the pandemic would weaken the economy for a long time. In recent days, multiple employers have announced new job cuts, including BP; the University of Denver; and the city of Peoria, Ill.

The number of people willing to defy President Trump — especially on racial issues and his handling of the protests — keeps growing. It’s a sign that some of his usual allies believe that he is on the wrong side of public opinion.

The country’s top military official, Gen. Mark Milley, apologized yesterday for having taken part in a Trump photo op that followed the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters.

And in the Senate, a Republican-led committee voted behind closed doors Wednesday to remove the names of Confederate officers from military bases within three years — the same day Trump took the opposite position.

The Times reports: “Trump increasingly sounds like a cultural relic, detached from not just the left-leaning protesters in the streets but also the country’s political middle and even some Republican allies and his own military leaders.” At a Dallas event yesterday to discuss policing, Trump did not invite any of the city’s top three law enforcement officials, all of them African-American, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Related: Black service members explain how training and living at bases named after Confederate generals feels like a “slap in the face.”

There are two new signs of a big-tech backlash. First, European Union officials are preparing to bring antitrust charges against Amazon, accusing it of using its dominance to damage smaller rivals. Europe’s inquiry is further along, but the U.S. is also subjecting the company to scrutiny for squashing competition.

Second, the Biden campaign is calling on Facebook to strengthen its rules about misleading comments by politicians. The company has publicly declined to interfere with several recent posts by Trump that other platforms, including Twitter, have flagged.

No talking in elevators. Partitions between desks. Mandatory daily surveys about flu symptoms. And no more communal snacks.

Many Americans will be returning to the workplace soon, and they will find it different from the one they left. In Flint, Mich., for instance, the Lear Corporation, which makes automotive technology, has installed transparent partitions on the lunch tables. “Workers are still able to eat together — only they now talk to one another through panes of plexiglass,” Natasha Singer, a Business reporter, told us. She added:

These pandemic precautions are likely to make offices, where employees often enjoyed substantial control over their schedules and behavior, feel more like warehouses or stores where workers have long been subjected to micromanagement. For many office employees who have the luxury to choose to work from home, the workplace may come to feel more like a hotel — a place they go for a specific reason for a defined period of time.

The New York Times’s offices in the U.S. remain closed. So for a glimpse of our own future, we asked Adrienne Carter, the Asia editor, what office life has been like in Hong Kong. Her answer: No more weekly fresh-fruit plate on Mondays. More scheduled meetings (to include people working from home). A lot more hand sanitizer. And a cute cleaning robot that prowls the halls.

The Korean word son-mat describes the specific, irreplaceable flavor of someone else’s cooking. It’s what was missing when the chef Samin Nosrat first attempted to recreate her favorite kimchijeon, or kimchi pancake, at home.

The recipe she has adapted comes from Pyeong Chang Tofu House in Oakland, Calif., a restaurant she has loved for the past 20 years. With the help of a vat of the restaurant’s homemade kimchi, she was able to capture what made the original version special. Here’s how to make the tart and chewy pancakes.

Our weekly suggestion from Gilbert Cruz, The Times’s Culture editor:

Bruce Lee is a very famous person who still feels somewhat unknown to those who are not conversant in his films, like “Fist of Fury” and “Enter the Dragon.” The documentary “Be Water” is an enlightening (and sometimes enraging) look at the life of a genuine icon, featuring rare archival footage of a young Lee and the voices of friends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In its best segments, the long-running ESPN documentary series “30 for 30” (which this film is an entry in) grapples with all of the issues that surround sports — race, money, the media. In “Be Water,” the director Bao Nguyen shows us how the American-born, Hong Kong-raised actor and martial artist was stifled in Hollywood because of the industry’s racism before gaining massive success in the Hong Kong film scene. I found myself still shocked at the fact that Lee was only 32 when he died.

Haircuts have become a symbol of luxury during a pandemic that has shuttered many barbershops and hair salons. Waiting lists for $1,000 cuts are already swelling in New York, Bloomberg reports. In Ottawa, where hair salons slated to reopen today, Canadians are watching to see if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will trim his increasingly shaggy mane — or continue to suffer in solidarity with residents still under lockdown.

More: As salons open in the U.S., Americans are rushing to fix gray roots, shaggy beards and chipped nails.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: When fireflies begin to emerge (four letters).

Or try this week’s news quiz.

You can find all of our puzzles here.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you Monday. — David

P.S. The members of this year’s Times Fellowship class, which aims to cultivate the next generation of journalists, began work this week. Meet them here.

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the challenges facing long-distance education.

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Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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