Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kamala Harris

Photo, Eric Risberg, Associated Press

Of course Kamala Harris is a good looking woman. Hard to see President Obama's compliment as anything but a non-issue, especially since he also praised her for her brains. The only quarrel I've ever had with the former SF District Attorney is the demagogic op-ed she wrote in the Bay Guardian pandering to progressives, conflating the immigration issue with the Josh Wolf issue. Harris didn't even mention the city cop's name (Peter Shields) that Wolf's anarchist buddies injured during the demonstration, the video of which Wolf refused to give to the federal Grand Jury.

James Wolcott, who I've enjoyed reading since he was with the Village Voice, featured Harris in a blog item (below in italics) earlier this month. (Last year Wolcott also did the best piece I saw on the late Alexander Cockburn, one of his colleagues on the Voice.)

Another issue has to be noted: Based on a legal technicality, Harris refused to release Daniel Larsen after a court ruled that he had spent 13 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Larsen was finally released last month.

From Wikipedia:

On August 24, 2012, the Los Angeles Times published an editorial calling on Harris to release Daniel Larsen from prison. Larsen, who was sentenced to 28 years to life under California's three strikes laws for possession of a concealed weapon in 1999, was declared actually innocent by a federal judge in 2010 and ordered released, but has remained in prison because Harris' office has objected to his release on the grounds that he missed the deadline to file his writ of habeas corpus. The California Innocence Project, which has taken up Larsen's case, has said this amounts to a paperwork technicality. The Times editorial stated that if Harris was not willing to release Larsen, Governor Jerry Brown should pardon him.

Sexual Harris-ment?
James Wolcott

That's what some are claiming after President Obama lauded Kamala Harris at a fundraiser in California as "by far the best looking attorney general."

Well, actually nobody is claiming that yet but I couldn't resist the cheap, obvious pun, especially on such a lyrical spring afternoon.

At the very least, however, it was a bit cavalier of Obama, unprofessional and unbefitting of his high office and expensive threads, to turn the attorney generalship into a beauty pageant, though the president did compliment Harris's brilliance, toughness, and dedication before declaring her easy on the eyes, so her braininess got first billing, if you're scoring at home.

I am inclined to cut Obama slack---not that he deserves any, how dare he, he should know better, apologize already---because I once had lunch with Kamala Harris, something I mention often because frankly I'm running out of anecdotes and need to restock, and she indeed radiates star quality. She has a spring to her step even when she's sitting down. She was then District Attorney of San Francisco, a high-powered job as any reader of Dashiell Hammett can attest, and was on her way to Iowa to lend her support to presidential hopeful Barack Obama. 

As a Hillary supporter then, I considered the Obama candidacy a quixotic dress rehearsal for a future, more serious, candidacy, but didn't want to be a bad lunch guest by 'getting all political.' I donated money to her campaign for Attorney General of California, which she won (and was later reelected), confident in the prospect that she might be on the presidential ticket some day. I'm still confident, though I gather her speech at the 2012 Democratic Convention didn't quite make it out of the infield. But at least she wasn't up there knocking back a Big Gulp, like someone else I could mention.

The next time Kamala Harris has a fundraiser in New York I intend to go and renew our bond, after I remind her who I am. I've changed so much in the last few years, while retaining that inner glow that lights a path down the darkened hall.

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