Even Joe Biden is struggling to defend his choice
When Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris to be his running-mate, the fact that she “ticked the right boxes” as a woman of mixed black and Asian descent wasn’t reason to discount her qualifications for holding the office of vice-president. She had served as attorney general of California and as a US senator and appeared to perform capably in both positions. Her own run for President fizzled out quickly, but it was a crowded field. Her record as a zealous prosecutor was underscored by her opponents, and in the reform-inflected mood of 2020, the slogan “Kamala is a cop” quickly sank her chances of success in the Democratic primary contest.
Now, a new book is coming out detailing the extent of tensions between Harris President Biden following her selection as VP. According to This Will Not Pass, Kamala Harris warned Biden that she did not want to be pigeon-holed with race and women’s issues, but news of a rupture between the two became public when Biden gave her the job of managing the border crisis, possibly the messiest and most explosive assignment imaginable. Having promised to end the Trumpian era of strict immigration enforcement while simultaneously “securing” the border, Biden has put himself in an impossible position.
Harris, unhappy with being set up as the obvious fall guy for a failed policy, demurred, asked instead to be put in charge of handling relations with the Nordic countries — the sort of role that might be given to a well-heeled donor or Foggy Bottom doyenne at the end of a long diplomatic career. Rebuffed, the Veep then insisted that her job would be to address the “root causes” of migration in the “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The idea that Kamala Harris, with no Spanish or experience in Central American history or politics, was going to solve the region’s entrenched poverty and violence was beyond absurd. Then, when asked by Lester Holt why she hadn’t visited the border, Harris responded “And I haven’t been to Europe!” She accompanied this sarcastic riposte with her now-characteristic cackle, a nervous bray reminiscent of the late cocktail hour.
Vice-President Harris has since gained a reputation as prickly and uninformed. She can’t keep staff, always a sign of bad leadership. Her bizarre statements sound like Gertrude Stein tone-poems. At a recent event at a Louisiana library, she remarked:
In American Presidential politics you should be good behind the desk or good behind the microphone—ideally both. But if you can’t manage either, it’s not clear what you are doing there to begin with.