As we previously reported, just a few months after media outlets declared that Kamala Harris had finally “found her footing” after barely keeping her head above water since the start of her vice presidency, we learned last week that the uneasy second-guessing among Democrats about Harris had resumed.
In addition to calling her stint so far “underwhelming,” the Washington Post reported Democratic leaders from “key states” who questioned the veep’s “basic political talents on the national stage” last Monday.
“In 2016, she won her Senate seat against weak opposition, they say,” the paper also noted. “In 2019, her presidential run ended before a single ballot was cast, doomed by an uneven performance on the campaign trail, weak support, faltering resources and turmoil among her advisers.”
That turmoil, as we all know, carried over into her vice presidency after a wave of resignations among top staffers raised questions about whether such things were “normal” in Washington, D.C. or indicative of a problem with Harris specifically – the latter of which turned out to be almost certainly the case.
One week after the unexpected WaPo attack article against Harris, the New York Times has joined in on the game, stating that even Harris’ friends are “tired of waiting” for her to “carve out a lane for herself” ahead of a prospective 2024 candidacy if Joe Biden steps down:
But the painful reality for Ms. Harris is that in private conversations over the last few months, dozens of Democrats in the White House, on Capitol Hill and around the nation — including some who helped put her on the party’s 2020 ticket — said she had not risen to the challenge of proving herself as a future leader of the party, much less the country. Even some Democrats whom her own advisers referred reporters to for supportive quotes confided privately that they had lost hope in her.
Through much of the fall, a quiet panic set in among key Democrats about what would happen if President Biden opted not to run for a second term. Most Democrats interviewed, who insisted on anonymity to avoid alienating the White House, said flatly that they did not think Ms. Harris could win the presidency in 2024. Some said the party’s biggest challenge would be finding a way to sideline her without inflaming key Democratic constituencies that would take offense.
Furthermore, the Times said that, now that it looks Biden may run for a second term after all, there is growing fear that Harris will be a “liability” for him in the final stretch. Behind the scenes, twice-failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is said to be frustrated with Harris’ inability to “clear a primary field,” an allegation refuted by a Clinton spokesman:
Members of Congress, Democratic strategists and other major party figures all said she had not made herself into a formidable leader. Two Democrats recalled private conversations in which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamented that Ms. Harris could not win because she does not have the political instincts to clear a primary field. Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said she was strongly supportive of Ms. Harris and often spoke with her about shared experiences of being “a woman in power.” He added: “They have built and maintained a strong bond. Any other characterization is patently false.”
Though the Times was eager to use buzzwords like “double standards” and “woman of color” to explain why Harris has had so many problems in her first two years, the simple line is that Harris is her own worst enemy, as we’ve chronicled here on countless occasions.
To emphasize a prior point, this is what happens when a person’s career begins as Harris’ did. As you go up the corporate ladder, you learn to anticipate special treatment and adoring press interviews because of “who you are” and what you purportedly represent from a “historical” standpoint.
As it turns out, being the “first” something doesn’t mean much to the ordinary person, especially if you continually proving that you’re not just very, really poor at what you do (as Harris frequently does), but also that you’re about as genuine as a $3 note. The great majority of Harris’s difficulties are self-inflicted, which other Democrats appear to recognize given the fresh debate over whether she has what it takes to run for president in the future.