Vice Presidential Frustrations: A CNN report has fueled debate over the exact nature of Kamala Harris’ role in the Biden administration and what her political future will look like. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter. Image Credit: Gage Skidmore
Top Story: Vice Presidential Frustrations
Late Sunday night, CNN published an article titled, “Exasperation and dysfunction: Inside Kamala Harris’ frustrating start as vice president.” Pundits across the political spectrum reacted to the piece, outlining how “Long-time supporters feel abandoned and see no coherent public sense of what she’s done or been trying to do as vice president,” Edward-Isaac Dovere and Jasmine Wright report. “There’s the frequent complaint of a lack of follow through from the vice president’s office, such as on the southern border,” the authors add. More broadly, some believe the White House is “consistently sending her out there on losing issues in the wrong situations for her skill set,” a former high-level Harris aide shared. Here’s the full article, but in case you don’t have time to parse through multiple reactions, here’s a quick rundown of the response from both sides.
On The Left
Left-leaning commentators are split in their opinions when it comes to the veep. Some believe she’s being set up to fail and are worried about her future prospects. Others are convinced she’ll serve as the clear Democratic presidential nominee in 2024 if President Biden chooses to retire.
“Much Ado About Kamala” Matt Stieb, New York Magazine Intelligencer: “It began pretty favorably on Friday, when the New York Times reported on how the VP’s frequent diplomatic trips abroad function as a chance ‘to cement the global profile of the vice president, who has demonstrated aspirations for higher office.’ (The end of that statement may be an understatement.) But things got worse from there. On Sunday, Politico provided a dispatch from the cold war between 2020 Democrats who are taking early steps toward a second run, should President Joe Biden decide to retire in 2024 at the age of 82. Harris’s vice-presidential status hardly earned her a front-runner’s slot, per party officials. … Harris is also having a difficult time in … Washington: ‘… key West Wing aides have largely thrown up their hands at Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff – deciding there simply isn’t time to deal with them right now.’”
“Here’s how you know the White House is worried about Kamala Harris” Chris Cillizza, CNN: “The general gist of all of these pieces is similar if not exactly the same: The Vice President is struggling in her role. She’s frustrated. And some people in President Joe Biden’s orbit are just as frustrated with her. … But, these series of stories have quite clearly struck a nerve in the White House — as evidenced by the decision to issue a statement from press secretary Jen Psaki Sunday night expressing confidence in Harris. … Consider that Psaki sent [the] tweet on Sunday at 9:20 pm — not exactly normal business hours. Then consider that needing to put out a tweet insisting that everything is totally fine between the president and the vice president suggests that things are not, well, totally fine. Smart people don’t need to tell you how smart they are. … And solid relationships don’t need to be publicly asserted as solid.”
“If Biden Retires in 2024, Kamala Harris Will Be the Democratic Nominee” Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine Intelligencer: “The record indicates that barring some scandal or unforeseeable development, Harris is likely to be the prohibitive favorite for the 2024 nomination, particularly if you consider the inhibitions facing any Democratic challenger to the first woman and the first person of color to serve as vice-president.” Keep reading.
On The Right
Right-leaning commentators observe that Harris has faded into the background because that’s precisely the vice president’s job—but say that she also doesn’t bring anything unique to the table in terms of her expertise. In that vein, they believe her presidential ambitions seem unlikely, and there’s even chatter about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg taking the mantle.
“Kamala Harris, the incredible disappearing vice president” Mark Z. Barabak, Bangor Daily News: “What happened to Harris is she became vice president. … it remains a fact that the No. 2 job in the White House is inherently a diminishing one. Virtually every vice president in modern history … has looked smaller than when he or she accepted the position. That’s because a main job requirement is stepping away from the spotlight … That one cardinal rule — to never purposely overshadow the president, or seem eager to take his place — doesn’t yield to history or celebrity. … So ever since taking office, Harris has made humility a top item on her public-facing agenda, alongside the assignments … Another reason for Harris’ fade to the background is her thin Washington resume. …There’s not a whole lot Harris can do that Biden cannot, or hasn’t done already — including acting in the job she now holds.”
“Kamala Harris doesn’t have a presidential future” Zachary Faria, Washington Examiner: “Supporters and aides of Vice President Kamala Harris are worried President Joe Biden and his team are ruining her political future. The reality is she doesn’t really have one anyway. … Biden limited himself first to pick a woman as his running mate and then to pick a black woman after the death of George Floyd. Were it not for those self-imposed quotas, we would not be talking about Harris as a future presidential candidate at all. Harris was supposed to be a powerhouse in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary … [but by] December , she was out of the race before a single vote had even been cast. … Harris does not have a presidential future, and that isn’t Biden’s fault. Harris doesn’t scare Democratic challengers because they have seen she is an inept politician who can’t make it through unscripted interactions without embarrassing herself.”
“Buttigieg buzz grows amid tensions with Biden and Harris” Michael Brendan Dougherty, New York Post: “… what you can hear between the lines of recent pieces of journalism is that 1) A lot of people with a look into things at the White House think Joe Biden is not going to run for re-election. 2) Just about everyone thinks Kamala Harris is a disaster. 3) A significant portion of insider Dems think Pete Buttigieg is the cure for what ails them. 4) Kamala Harris’ team is desperate.” Keep reading.
Flag This: Vice Presidential Frustrations
The last few months have seen some abysmal approval ratings for the Biden administration. The significant fall in poll numbers began during the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a line can be drawn from there to the current economic woes. A USA Today/Suffolk University Poll from earlier this month placed Biden’s approval rating at a low of 37.8%. Additionally, “Nearly half of those surveyed, 46%, say Biden has done a worse job as president than they expected,” which could be interpreted as Biden and his administration losing confidence from his own supporters.
Moreover, Vice President Harris’ numbers are notably grim. The poll found that her “… approval rating is 28% – even worse than Biden’s. The poll shows that 51% disapprove of the job she’s doing. One in 5, 21%, are undecided.” It’s likely that due to these far-from-flattering numbers, Harris’ team is quite nervous about what her future political ambitions currently look like.
Flag Poll: Vice Presidential Frustrations
If President Biden chooses not to run in 2024, do you think Kamala Harris will be the Democratic nominee for president? Comment below to share your thoughts.