Scott Williams: Biden’s choice is smarter than you think

(Paul Sancya | AP Photo) In this July 31, 2019, photo, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listens during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN in the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

Joe Biden may have demonstrated a more nuanced shrewdness of the seasoned politician he is with his selection of Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate.

While some in the media, the chattering classes, and President Trump focused on Harris’ attack upon Biden over his position on school busing during the first Democratic primary debate as a potential vulnerability, Biden, highly experienced in the world of verbal fisticuffs, recognized a good punch when he takes one.

At first I was put off by Harris’ approach in the debate, to me it seemed almost Trumpian, an unfair distortion of the truth. However, the best politicians are not afraid of ideas, of disagreement, of challenge, because they know that only through fierce, open discourse can you get to consensus and progress.

It is how you move the messy pieces of democracy forward. While the public, with our instant messaging mindset, seems to be locked in a constant state of reaction, Biden understands the long game and the big picture. Harris’s grit and courage is a strength and will help fortify Biden’s message to the nation on many levels.

This ability to embrace debate, criticism and fair argument is not a weakness, it is one of the pillars of our system, an echo of the fundamental checks and balance design of our government. Too often people pick apart pieces of the exchange and don’t see how such a process advances better thinking and understanding.

At the beginning, I thought Trump might be a true deal maker and play both sides off each other, angering everyone, and move things forward. Wrong. The very inability to accept critical thinking and debate and the threat to unleash his followers via Twitter amped around a my-way-or-the-highway theme has crippled the GOP. It turned this pandemic from a crisis into a catastrophe.

Biden knows that if elected he will face daunting challenges on day one, circumstances that haven’t been faced by a president since perhaps the Great Depression. He will need to lead a national consensus toward addressing the enormous fiscal, social, and political issues that have been building in America for years, and now have been laid bare by COVID-19.

The Wall Street Journal suggested Biden was “rewarding the kind of political cheap shot he abhors in Mr. Trump.” Knowing that this was a very personal decision for Biden, the truth is more likely that he recognized a skilled, tough teammate not only ready for the battlefield ahead, but who could also lead the nation if necessary.

A native of Utah, Scott Williams is a communications consultant in Washington, D.C.

Scott Williams, a Utah native, is a communications consultant in Washington, D.C.