Since the beginning of the general election campaign in 2020, after Joe Biden had won the Democratic Party’s nomination, it was clear that his number two would be an integral member of his political team.
When former Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) was named as Biden’s running mate, rumors began swirling that she’d be the real power behind the throne. In fact, one interaction I had with Vice-President Harris’ team shortly after they were sworn into office, seemed to confirm much of the scuttlebutt in the press about how Harris was not only being groomed to succeed Mr. Biden but that she was already wielding significant influence.
At almost every executive order signing; at nearly every major press event with President Biden, the vice-president can be seen skulking in the shadows. Often she is photographed standing on the side of the event, arms crossed, looking dour–like a humorless nurse watching over her aging patient.
Throughout 2020, there were a variety of news snippets about how former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, loved Kamala Harris. Others in the media implied that Harris was a female version of Obama. Amidst these effusive declarations of love for Kamala Harris, little thought or attention was paid to the actual Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.
Biden was a political afterthought; a minor transition figure from one Democratic Party president of consequence (Obama) to what many Leftists believed would be another Democratic president of consequence (Kamala Harris).
This ceaseless whisper campaign about Kamala Harris’ inevitable presidency clearly rankled those around Mr. Biden–notably people like the First Lady, Jill Biden. For all intents-and-purposes, as I warned about at the start of the Biden Administration, the First Lady, Jill Biden, is co-president. Dr. Jill Biden is likely not keen about handing over the reins of power to an ambitious vice-president.
Biden Cuts Harris Off at The Knees
By cutting Harris down to size, the Biden team is keeping their options open heading into 2024. Because of these actions, the Biden team will have greater influence at determining the future of the party than Obama’s people ever will.
Despite the backslapping that has occurred in public between former President Obama and his former number two, now-President Joe Biden, there is much resentment between these two men.
Remember, in 2016 Joe Biden wanted to run for president. I have long insisted that Biden probably would have fared much better against Donald Trump’s unlikely candidacy for president had he been the Democratic nominee rather than Hillary Clinton.
Obama refused to support his number two–despite the fact that having Joe Biden run for president in 2016 was the dying wish of Biden’s beloved son, Beau. Obama has long viewed Biden with disdain, going back to their days as senators in the United States Senate.
Kamala Harris is the one that Obama really wants as the Democratic president…and Biden is merely a doddering placeholder in the eyes of the idealists who populate the Democratic Party, and who still swear fealty to Obama.
But Biden and his loyalists believe the forty-sixth president to be a seasoned political hand who is more than capable of cutting his own path in politics. They likely resent being viewed as transitory figures in Democratic Party politics.
Even within the Biden Administration, beyond the vice-president’s office, there are multiple, competing centers of power evolving. As I’ve noted before, there are hawks like Kurt Campbell; doves like John Kerry and Susan Rice; and the political hacks who surround Biden and just want to keep his approval ratings at or above 60 percent–and these groups are fiercely fighting amongst each other for control over things like the Biden Administration’s policy toward China, for example.
The competing power dynamic is particularly interesting when one considers the kind of support that Harris received from former President Obama and how the media has championed her as the de facto replacement for Biden, whether it be in four years or, more improbably, eight.
But Kamala Harris is a politician who couldn’t win a national election if her life depended on it. Sure, she may remind people of a female Barack Obama, but she barely made it through the contentious Democratic Party’s presidential primary in 2020. So, beyond her own issues exerting the kind of control over the Biden Administration that one would expect the heir apparent to exert, she’s mostly untested.
And the few times she’s been tested…she’s not done very well.
Kamala Does the Border
Consider the one major issue she has been tasked with: the border. Here is a lose-lose situation if you are an elected Democrat. The last Republican administration made border control and immigration policy so controversial that the Democratic Party’s base genuinely doesn’t believe we should worry about border security at all.
For the Republicans, they want a Great Wall of America built along the southern border and will not settle for anything less. Any elected official in the Biden Administration taking immigration on as their issue will face an uphill battle.
Vice-President Kamala Harris, who is positioning herself to be the next president, being given the immigration issue is like touching the third rail on a train track. This is likely why Harris has been so reticent to venture down to America’s southwestern border for the last four months.
There is a real crisis there that has been exacerbated, as the Guatemalan president chided the Biden team recently, by the Biden Administration’s idiotic reversals of key Trump Administration border policies–and everyone, including Vice-President Harris knows it.
By traveling to the border, Harris opens herself up to extreme criticism from all sides and actually makes herself and the Biden Administration look very bad. Since she is the designated point person, though, it will be her failure and not necessarily the failure of Mr. Biden.
But ignoring the border also makes her look bad, as recent negative press about Harris’ lack of presence along the border has shown.
Meanwhile, President Biden, his wife, and their team are laughing.
Biden’s approval ratings are relatively good, given all that has transpired in his first six months in office. He is seen as achieving a previously impossible infrastructure deal (though his recent remarks may prove that Biden continues being his own worst enemy, as the deal is now again in doubt).
Despite his public utterances, Biden does, at times, look like a president. As he gallivants around the place, looking presidential, Kamala is left holding the bag at the border. It’s a no-win situation that one would have thought the heir apparent, Vice-President Harris, would’ve been shielded from.
But Biden and his political team ensured that she would be holding that particular bag.
Harris is being set up by Biden’s team to look bad. And she does. Her approval rating is around 41 percent). In fact, according Newsweek, Kamala Harris had the exact same approval rating after Biden’s first 100 days in office as her much-maligned predecessor, Vice-President Mike Pence had after former President Trump’s first 100 days in office. By June 2021, Harris’ approval rating was actually down two points from where Pence’s numbers were at during June of 2017.
Diminishing Harris works in Biden’s favor because he and his team likely do not want to be merely a placeholder for the next transformational Democratic president. They want to keep their options open and want to pave a legacy for Biden that doesn’t include being a forgettable transition from the Obama era of racial resentment to Kamala Harris’ Age of Aquarius in American politics.
If I worked for Kamala Harris, I’d be pissed at the White House for setting my boss up; the heir apparent to the presidency, to fail. And I’m willing to venture that there will be some backbiting over the next year from Harris’ team–and some revenge being visited upon the White House for their skullduggery.
Things will become especially tense if, as I suspect, the Democratic Party performs poorly in the 2022 Midterms.
Harris’ comments from her long overdue visit to the southwestern border already highlight the fissures forming between her office and the White House. During her comments at the border, Vice-President Harris acknowledged the fact that she’d been mostly absent from the border, despite the fact that she was tasked by President Biden to handle the problem. Harris blamed “infighting” between unspecified parties within the Biden Administration for the delay (read, she was blaming Mr. Biden and his team).
Politics is politics. Now that the mean Orange Man has been ousted from the White House and he’s been kept mostly quiet on social media due to censorship, the old divisions and resentments within the Democratic Party can come to the fore. And they are.
Biden is totally sticking it to Kamala Harris by forcing her to deal with the political no-win situation at the border.
If the Republicans can play the next 18 months smartly (that’s a big “if” given the abject stupidity of the Republican Party’s political leadership), they can really restore the immense power they lost in 2018-20.