The Future of US Vice President Kamala Harris
Early in 2022, the BBC’ North America reporter Anthony Zurcher published an important story: “Kamala Harris one year: Where did it go wrong for her?”
In a well-crafted story, Zurcher argued that a tough portfolio—tackling undocumented migration and national voting reform enacting—made her an easy target as vice president. Yet this canny BBC reporter observed how Harris began her presidential campaign with a bang in January 2019 only to crash spectacularly. She failed to debate or interview well, her staff left and, for all the money she raised, Harris was unable to craft a clear message or harness a constituency. The same failings have dogged her time in office since January 2020.
If the left-leaning BBC has been critical of Harris, so has the right-leaning The Economist. As early as May 29, 2021, it argued that she was “a gift to the Republicans.” This year, on June 23, the 1843-vintage British paper argued that Democrats should not opt for either President Joe Biden or Harris as their presidential candidate in 2024. Apparently, Biden is too old for a second run. Besides, it appears as if age is catching up with him. In contrast, Harris looks healthy, vigorous and relatively youthful but the paper deemed her “too flawed.”
The flaws of Kamala Harris
On November 18, 2021, Abigail Tracy of Vanity Fair reported: “Vice President Kamala Harris’s communications chief Ashley Etienne [was] leaving the White House.” Etienne is a seasoned old hand in Washington who served Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Biden in the past. Tracy reports that Etienne is leaving early “after a raft of stories on infighting and low morale in the vice president’s office.”
As per rumor, morale in Harris’ office further plummeted after Biden and his aides told allies that he was running for a second term in 2024. In 2020, Biden was seen as a one-term president and Harris as the heir apparent. It is now an open secret that this is no longer the case.
Will American Democracy Perish Like Rome’s?
Champions of Harris say she is a woman of color who is being set up to fail. Her boss has given her thankless messy jobs such as solving the migrant crisis. Leaks about “dysfunction and infighting” at the Harris office have been labeled as an attempt to “sabotage” her.
For admirers, Harris combines Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. An African American woman in the top job would be terrific for America’s soul. Harris would smash the final glass ceiling in a country with a dark legacy of slavery and misogyny.
For others, Harris represents the worst type of politician who has no principle and resorts to identity politics to make her way to the top. They point to her record in California as a “cop,” which caused many young black American men to end up in prison. Unsurprisingly, “The Sacramento Bee” called Harris a “polarizing figure” last year.
Indians who dislike Harris constantly point out that her Tamil Brahmin grandfather belonged to the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and was an acolyte of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. For them, good old Kamala is being disingenuous when claiming to suffer from discrimination because she is a card-holding member of the elite with an IAS grandfather.
The left-leaning Democrats find Harris a bit too close to Silicon Valley. They are also suspicious of the fact that she married a heavy-hitting corporate lawyer. At a time when these Young Turks are aligning with the economic philosophies of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Harris seems a bit too Clintonesque for their taste.
Many Republicans take a view of Harris that is best left unsaid. She has the same effect on them as a full moon on werewolves. In essence, Republicans do not trust Harris and view her with profound disgust.
What lies in store for 2024?
Harris is an ambitious woman. She has broken many glass ceilings to get this far. Her ambition is to occupy Biden’s chair. In the primaries, she gave the old man a hard time. Before one of the debates, Biden was heard remarking to Harris: “Go Easy On Me, Kid.” Now, the kid is eyeing pop’s chair in the White House. Politico reports that Harris is “staffing up” and has hired a top operative. Harris intends to use the 2022 midterms to propel herself into limelight and then into the top job in 2024.
The trouble with Harris is not that she is ambitious, she is seen as too ambitious. Many Americans saw her attacks on Biden’s race record as insincere and cynical. For someone who had locked up black American men, she sounded a touch holier-than-thou in accusing Biden. Many moderates and most Republicans saw Harris opportunistically playing the race card.
Even as ruthless a place as Washington is awash with murmerings about Harris’s excessive ambition. These have been going on soon after she assumed office. Detractors insinuate that Harris is looking to put a pillow over Uncle Joe’s face and ascend to the throne. They paint her as a modern Lady Macbeth who will stop at nothing to grasp the scepter.
It could well be the case that Harris is no more ambitious than Obama or Biden or Elizabeth Warren. However, she has forgotten a cardinal rule in politics: “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.” Too many people suspect Harris of being unprincipled, dishonest and scheming. After two years in office, the vice president is now damaged goods. She has been weighed, measured and found wanting. Harris is extremely unlikely to become president in 2024 or later.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.