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The quiet observer was Kamala Harris, the woman whom many now think is an odds-on favorite to be President of the United States.
But on this night, she was a political rookie, barely a year into her first term as San Francisco district attorney: focused, reserved, undistracted, emotions in check. Back then, early in her political career, she often seemed low-key.
She’s our senator and insists only that “I do the work that’s in front of me.” But does she never think about higher office?
I know from the hackneyed “sources close to …” and my own knowledge that she’s fearful of losing elections, afraid of not being uber-prepared (a nightmare from her trial prosecutor days).
As someone who’s her friend, I see she has a very courageous, almost empathetic, force about her.” Sonoma State political science professor Dave Mc Cuan calls her “the Democrats’ badass.” Harris, a leading Congressional proponent of the Dream Act, which would grant work permits and deportation protection to thousands of undocumented immigrants’ children, spoke in favor of it at a rally at UC Irvine last October. She rocks back and forth on her heels, arms jabbing and grabbing in all the air and force she can summon, with her words delivered in an evangelical cadence that can burn down the house — with passion flying off her like sprays of sweat.
Harris’ grandparents were militants fighting for human rights in India.When we talked, she would only tell me that her memories of the time were “pretty, fairly good.” No elaboration.But the seamless bond among Harris, her mother and sister endured.Despite San Francisco’s stiff political hierarchy, Harris has never waited her turn. And you’ll hear from her, and all her friends and fans, the importance of the words, “having a seat at the table.” More about that shortly.
As someone who’s known her for 15 years, I think things beyond simply maturity and experience have stirred in her.
In the VIP backroom of Tosca Cafe, San Francisco’s ancient bohemian bar, Bruce Springsteen and Sean Penn were playing a manly game of pool.