This past July I had the great pleasure of listening to this fascinating new book This Will Not Pass by NY Times journalists Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns on audible.com. This easy-to-read book provides the inside scoop on the politics and tumult of the latter years of the Trump presidency, the 2020 election and the first year of the Biden administration. Based on extensive interviews and access to secret tapes, the authors really do paint "gripping in-the-room" details about such critical events as Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 presidential campaigns, the January 6th attack on the Capitol building and in particular "the growing tensions between Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, in the White House." This is a must read for any politico. Highly recommended.
I was first attracted to this book when the authors were interviewed on CNN and they mentioned that Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois was at first considered the top candidate as Biden's vice presidential pick. Duckworth was born of a Thai Chinese mother and American father and grew up in Hawaii. She is fluent in Thai and Indonesian and is one of the few AAPI's in the Senate. I have a particular appreciation for her because she helped sponsor the bill in 2018 in Congress to award all Chinese Americans who served in WWII the Congressional Gold Medal of which my father was one of the recipients. See the www.caww2.org website for details and my blog on this honor of a lifetime.
The senator was the ideal candidate for a vice president. Growing up in poverty and living off of food stamps, Duckworth joined the army and flew helicopters in Iraq. In 2004, hers was hit by an RPG and nearly killed her but she lost two legs. In 2018, she was noted as the first senator to give birth while in office. There was only one problem: she was born in Thailand. Biden officials feared her eligibility would be attacked in a birther-style manner just as Trump had attacked Obama. Legally, such an allegation would not stand but Biden did not want to deal with the distraction such an issue might become in the middle of an intense presidential campaign. "Or so Biden told himself" as the authors end the story in the book (p. 65). And so, Tammy Duckworth was passed over for Kamala Harris.
The Illinois senator appears in another interesting vignette in the book. In the early days of the now President Biden administration when he was selecting his cabinet officials …
The story continues in the book and it gets even worse. During a conference call with two of Biden's top aids, one of them,
This story and many others like it are a reminder that AAPI's for all their achievements in America remain underrepresented and under-served relative to their achievements. They remain "stuck." See Margaret Chin's Stuck: Why Asian Americans Don't Reach the Top of the Corporate Ladder (NYU Press, 2020). In a climate where "diversity and inclusion" is the mantra of the day, Asian Americans remain "invisible." Lord have mercy.
*The NJ Society of Professional Journalists is holding a panel discussion this coming Thursday, October 20th at 7 pm: "Invisible Asian Americans: Are the Press and Police Ignoring New Jersey’s Fastest-Growing Minority?" at my own university William Paterson with my old friend Ti-Hua Chang as the moderator. Event is both in-person and broadcast online. Check it out on this link. I'll be there.