Sen. Kamala Harris brought one very bold idea to the CNN Town Hall on Monday: a pledge to use her executive authority to toughen an array of gun laws (near-universal background checks, revocation of licenses from dealers and manufacturers who break the law, prohibition of sales to fugitives) if Congress does not act within 100 days of her inauguration. But the California Democrat’s clear positions on guns and impeachment (Congress should take steps toward it) were accompanied by decided waffling on other issues. She invoked version of the phrases “we need to have that conversation” or “we need to study that” on questions about allowing murderers, terrorists and other felons to vote from prison, lowering the voting age to 16, providing reparations for slavery and forgiving student debt (as Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed). None of those questions should have been a surprise. The rap on Harris has long been that she tends to be too cautious. Her consultants, who vigorously object to that narrative, prefer to characterize her as thoughtful and deliberative. It’s early, of course, but the Democratic base is going to be demanding more than conversations in sorting through a field of 20 (with ex-veep Joe Biden’s expected entry Thursday). And make no mistake: No matter where she ends up on the issue, Republican strategists are filing away video of her hesitation when asked point blank by CNN’s Don Lemon whether the Boston Marathon bomber and those convicted of sexual assault should have the right to vote from their prison cells.
What we’re saying
Pelosi’s choice: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing her best to try to tamp down the growing fervor within the Democratic ranks to charge ahead toward the impeachment of President Trump. Our editorial praises Pelosi for her restraint and insistence that the House focus on its oversight and fact-finding before deciding whether to start the impeachment process.
Storefront blues: San Francisco supervisors are trying to crack down on vacant storefronts by requiring owners of the empty properties to register and pay a $771 fee. Before going any further, city leaders need to get a better handle on the causes of this urban blight, our editorial argues.
Two steps forward: Nothing is simple when it comes to addressing San Francisco’s homelessness. But the city is making important incremental progress in approving a navigation center and making an initial step toward providing space and services for people living in RVs, as our editorial notes.
Wrong question: The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up the issue of whether a citizenship question should be included on the 2020 Census, and the justices seem predisposed to allow it. Our editorial explains why this is likely to depress participation, which could leave California, among other states, with less representation in Congress.
Letter of the Week
Decisions, decisions: Eleanor Fischbein of Alameda took note of Peter Fimrite’s fascinating piece on the scientific discovery of genetic codes for the redwoods and wondered whether this remarkable advancement could have another practical application:
Regarding “Science unveils secrets of world’s tallest trees” (Page 1, April 23): If only the sequenced genome data of the towering California redwoods and giant sequoias, which will allow scientists to figure out which trees are best suited for our warmer, more volatile future, could also be applied to the current crop of about 20 Democratic presidential candidates, perhaps I could decide whom to choose when I vote in the 2020 state primary.
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