“…Biden has permitted his League of Mediocre White Men to run around dinging up a group of trailblazing female politicians, most of them Black, all of whom have plied paths unimaginably more challenging than any taken by these men. This has been the vice-presidential selection process of Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, and it should leave us all hot with anger.” —Rebecca Traister
March 5th, 2020. I’m minding my own business, trying to have what passes for a normal day in 2020, and I get the news alert that Senator Elizabeth Warren has formally suspended her presidential campaign. I just kind of stared at the screen, not really processing it for a minute. The denial arrived first, of course; the reporter made a mistake, right? It happens! Then came the gut punch. The day sort of stopped with the gutting, exhausting realization that, one way or another, our next President would be an arrogant, entitled, mediocre, old white man. AGAIN. You know what’s next: anger. A seething rage bubbled up as I watched yet another qualified woman who’d truly worked to earn a position of power denied it by a lazy, dishonest man who perceived it as his birthright. AGAIN.
I glared, not really at my husband as he didn’t cause this injustice, but in his general direction simply because he was there.
“I will NEVER get over this.”
Ever the practicing feminist, he replied, “I know. You shouldn’t.”
I’m not moving past The Anger Phase. Fuck acceptance.
Now it is August of 2020. We are in the midst of an uncontrolled pandemic, our installed President is far closer to becoming a for-realsies dictator than most people are comfortable admitting, and the person who is supposed to save us from this nightmare is… Joe Fucking Biden? I cannot.
I’ve noticed the general mood buoyed this week by Biden FINALLY announcing his Vice Presidential pick: California Senator and former presidential candidate herself, Kamala Harris. I begrudge no one a moment; we should pause to honor this broken glass ceiling. Harris is the first Black and half-Indian woman to ever be tapped as VP. She is a child of immigrants and a graduate not of the Ivy League, but an HBCU. This is monumental. Beautiful.
But we must also always remember this moment as the moral travesty that it is: Harris should be at the top of the ticket. That she isn’t is a shame and a disgrace. An accomplished woman has to play second fiddle to a gross, old, lazy, and utterly mediocre man. AGAIN. There’s just no excuse for that. Not anymore. Now it’s true that had the presidential primary come down to a contest between Harris and Warren, I would have voted for Warren. My politics align with hers more (It’s the Healthcare, Stupid). But for representational purposes, that is a contest I would have been thrilled to lose.
Once this celebratory moment is over, we must return to reality, which I’m sorry to say is quite ugly. The Right’s misogynoir against Harris has already begun in earnest. We all know that birther piece (which I will not deign to link) was pre-written and breathlessly awaiting the announcement to be published. Last month I warned that Trump’s campaign was not in fact flailing at running against another old white dude, but was instead biding their time and waiting to aim their attacks at a female Black VP candidate. Where they know they’ll be much more effective. Lord help, it didn’t take twenty-four hours.
None of this should surprise anyone. After all, it’s not like Biden himself didn’t enthusiastically contribute to this nation’s already entrenched misogyny; his VP selection process was grotesque. He all but transported The Bachelor to the Oval Office. Instead of meeting the moment and imploring men to chart a new course, he solicited the advice of known sex pests in choosing his female running mate, and allowed his own surrogates to repeatedly scrutinize and belittle each woman’s ambition in the mainstream media. We shouldn’t be surprised. If Biden really wanted to demonstrate leadership in repudiating systemic sexism, he wouldn’t have run for President against four* well-qualified women in the first place.
Harris deserves to be celebrated for this moment. But we must never forget the outrage this moment will always demand.
*No, Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson were most assuredly NOT qualified.
Cod with Aioli and Heirloom Tomatoes
- 1 to 3 garlic cloves (I used 3), finely minced
- 1 tsp lemon juice, plus more to taste
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- ¾ cup mild olive oil
COD AND TOMATOES:
- 1 to 2 heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into ½-inch-thick wedges
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Good olive oil, as needed
- 2 cod fillets, about 6 oz each, patted dry and any pin bones removed if necessary
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- Half a lemon, thinly sliced
- Torn fresh basil leaves, for serving
- Pieces of torn baguette, for serving
- Combine the garlic, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor and let the mixture sit for a minute or two to mellow the garlic. Add the egg and egg yolk and process until combined.
- With the machine running, drizzle the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Slow is the name of the game here. You want this to be painfully slow for the first 30 seconds or so, just until you see some emulsion happening. After that happens, you speed up your stream, but just slightly. Keep pouring the oil until the mixture emulsifies and thickens like, well, mayonnaise. If the aioli is looking very thick and you have more oil left, quicken your pour and get it all in there. The whole process of streaming olive oil will take between 60 and 90 seconds. Taste for acid and seasoning, I found I wanted more lemon juice and salt each time I made it. If you add more salt and/or lemon juice, just pulse the processor quickly to incorporate it.
COD AND TOMATOES:
- In a wide, shallow bowl (I used a pie plate), arrange the tomatoes in a semi-single layer. Season with kosher salt and then drizzle them with olive oil to taste. Let them sit while you prepare the fish.
- Preheat your oven to 400 F.
- Place the cod fillets on a rimmed baking sheet, then season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Drizzle them with olive oil - don’t drench them, just drizzle. Top the fish with the thyme sprigs, then place lemon slices over the thyme.
- Roast until the fish is just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size. I have never needed more than 10 minutes for them to be perfectly cooked. When done, remove the lemon slices and thyme sprigs.
- Use a slotted spoon to evenly divide the tomato wedges between 2 dinner plates. Place a piece of cod over the tomatoes. Liberally dollop the cod and tomatoes with the aioli, then drizzle some pooled tomato juices over each piece of fish. Sprinkle the torn basil over the fish, then serve immediately with bread for mopping.