In recent times, several articles have come out in American newspapers that all certify the same thing, with a series of nuances: Vice President Kamala Harris is not respecting the enormous expectations and enthusiasm generated by her appointment, as the first woman and member of an ethnic minority to hold the position of vice president, as well as announced political heir to President Joe Biden, about whom there are many questions about a possible reappointment in 2024, when he will be 82 years old.
The moment is so critical that in mid-November Harris took a rare television interview in which she had to deny that she was essentially sidelined by the current administration. “I am very, very enthusiastic about the work we have done. But I am also very, very aware that there is still a lot to do, and that we will, ”he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News.
Several collaborators and people who belong to his inner circle have confirmed that there are latent tensions that are preventing Harris from making significant contributions to the administration and more generally from making the best of his ability, as evidenced by some recent polls. Today Harris’s popularity rate is 28 percent, a very low figure and 10 points lower than Biden’s. In a full-bodied and informed article, CNN he spoke to many of them to try to understand what the reasons for this stalemate are.
A lot has to do with the position of vice president: in some respects, a rather thankless task. The vice-presidents have no decision-making autonomy, not even on the limited issues that the president decides to entrust to them, and from them the press and public opinion expect an inflexible loyalty to the presidency, which in the event of some mischief generates articles and chat about the poor cohesion of the administration.
Harris’s profile was somehow destined not to fit perfectly with Biden. In addition to being more to the left than him on various issues, “Harris is the first vice president in several decades to take office with less political experience in Washington than her president: finding the right pace was difficult from the beginning,” note the reporters. from CNN Edward-Isaac Duty and Jasmine Wright.
To make matters worse there is also the fact that Harris is a woman and belongs to an ethnic minority: two categories in which right-wing TVs and newspapers especially require virtually immaculate political standards and behavior. During a recent state visit to France, for example, Harris was teased a lot by right-wing newspapers because on some occasions she would accentuate some words to pretend to have a “Francophone” accent. Fox News he dedicated many articles and television segments to this story, but the story also found space in the most institutional newspapers.
According to CNN, many people around Kamala Harris attribute his low consensus to Biden and the White House’s lack of inclination to protect and defend Harris from such accusations, either because they are too focused on Biden’s image or because they are unaware of Harris’s particularly vulnerable profile. towards the American press.
“When you decide to appoint such a person as vice president, you almost have a responsibility to make sure he has the support he needs to succeed and find his place. And it seems to me that the people who run the works and are around Biden don’t understand exactly what it means to protect someone like Kamala Harris, ”he told Vanity Fair Nina Smith, a Democratic policy advisor.
In the end, the White House defended Harris, even with a very clear (perhaps too much) tweet from spokeswoman Jen Psaki: but for some it only came to the end of the cycle of controversy.
It is not the only mutual accusation that the two staffs are exchanging, despite being in close contact and having shared meetings several times a week.
From the west wing of the White House, the one reserved for the president’s staff, they let a CNN who often ask Harris collaborators to make proposals to make better use of the vice president’s time, without great concrete results. The Harris staff instead point out that the two dossiers that were entrusted to Harris in the first months – the laws on the right to vote and the management of migrants arriving from Central and South American countries – are rather slippery: the first has a certain continuity with the issues Harris dealt with in the Senate, but in a blocked Congress like the current one, he has no great concrete outlets, especially if, like Harris, you do not have great experience in finding bipartisan compromises.
The second, on the other hand, risks alienating it from the left wing of the party. In June it was Harris’s turn, for example, to give a speech taken from half the world in which he asked migrants, in essence, not to come to the United States (even if he did not exclude the use of legal routes of entry): one thing a leader of the moderate Republican wing might have said.
“I want to be clear to the people of this region that they are thinking of embarking on that perilous journey to the US-Mexico border: don’t come. You do not come”.
The personal relationship between Harris and Biden is good, but some from the outside have the impression that Biden and his collaborators prefer Pete Buttigieg, the Secretary of Transportation, who Biden had praised a lot in the election campaign and who has been very visible in recent weeks. in newspapers and on television due to the gigantic infrastructure reform approved by Congress in mid-November. Buttigieg enjoys cross-party popularity inside and outside the party and there is a lot of talk about his possible presidential candidacy as early as 2024 – when in theory it should be Harris’s turn, if Biden doesn’t reapply – or in 2028.
Even Harris, however, appears to be putting his own effort into complicating his situation. Along with some interviews that went so-so, like the one given to NBC News in June, when he struggles to give concrete answers on immigration, rather negative articles have been published for months about internal quarrels within his staff, which indicate an uneventful situation. “It’s not a healthy work environment,” a source told a while ago Politico, “But a place where people feel they are being treated like shit.” In recent weeks, it has emerged that two of Harris’ prominent associates will be leaving her staff: spokesperson Symone Sanders and head of communications, Ashley Etienne.
It’s unclear who’s to blame for this climate – some say cabinet chief, Tina Flournoy, others Harris’ family – but the vice president has had similar problems in the past, and Biden’s collaborators believe it’s up to her to sort this out. of situations.
CNN he says that according to various testimonies Harris is aware of the bad moment he is experiencing, and this is reflected in his public appearances, often woody and plastered. Only on a recent occasion did Harris seem to return the charismatic and enthusiastic leader appreciated by the Democratic electorate: at a party for the 30th anniversary of the civil rights association of the well-known Reverend Al Sharpton, where she gave an energetic speech on civil rights. and against the Republicans who oppose their expansion.
Sharpton also admitted with CNN that that was arguably one of Harris’ best public appearances in recent times. “The administration should use it more as the face of the fight for the right to vote: being black and female, it is the physical manifestation of why we need to protect this right,” Sharpton said. Donna Brazile, a well-known Democratic consultant, told a CNN that Harris should change strategy for the remainder of her term, and focus on improving her public image: “She’s great at speaking but she has to be clear, concise and determined. […]. In the end the Americans will not judge it from the first half of the match, ”he added speaking with NBC News.