As Kamala Harris’ poll ratings crater to a dismal 28%, the vice president’s apologists have implied that nefarious factions inside the Biden administration have decided she should be “set up to fail” — and they threaten an impending “backlash” among black voters if the White House does not do more to improve her negative image.
“Is Vice President Kamala Harris being set up to fail?” asked MSNBC’s Joy Reid on Tuesday’s episode of “The ReidOut.”
“Republicans are ramping up their disgusting, despicable attacks on Vice President Kamala Harris, but that’s to be expected. What about the Biden team? Are they setting her up to fail?” she continued. “Do they have her back?”
Reid complained that the items in Harris’ portfolio “got junked,” although illegal immigration at the U.S. border remains unresolved.
PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor reported that some of the problems are of the vice president’s own making. Employees inside the vice president’s office have said for months that “[i]t’s not a healthy environment, and people often feel mistreated,” according to one individual with direct knowledge of the office. “It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s***.”
Alcindor admitted “there is real dysfunction, some real anger at her from her staff, some real dysfunction within the White House, but also there is this case where people feel like she’s being targeted because she’s [the] first” black woman to serve as vice president.
But, Alcindor then downplayed these concerns. As “a black woman in the workplace … she’s always had these issues of personnel talking out of school,” she said. “We can talk about whether or not these are credible conversations, or if it’s just this issue of a very powerful black woman who is given a portfolio, and she is trying to do her best.”
“She’s all the things Republicans fear,” she said. “As the first black woman to hold this position, as the child of immigrants, that she is the face of the Democratic base, she is in some ways what Democrats talk about when they talk about the future of their party.”
If Kamala Harris fails as vice president, Reid said, many black voters will blame the Democratic Party for allowing her to receive the nomination, instead of appointing her to a lower position that she could have handled — an argument frequently made against affirmative action policies.
“If the black woman gets left holding the bag, they’ll be like, ‘Wow, she should have [been] picked [for[ transportation secretary or been the attorney general, because those are places where she could have actually shined,” Reid said. “The backlash if she gets thrown under the bus will be huge among black women, and they need black women to vote for them.”
Reid’s segment followed an explosive account of “exasperation and dysfunction” between President Joe Biden and Harris, as well as their teams, published Sunday by CNN. The article at times hinted that Kamala Harris was being failed by the broader administration.
“Many in the vice president’s circle fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined,” CNN reported. Furthermore, Biden “deprived her of an important aspect of presidential apprenticeship” by excluding her from so many meetings on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that she once dropped in unannounced. “Many of those close to her feel like he’s shirking his political duties to promote her, and essentially setting her up to fail.”
Her defenders told CNN that Harris faces “outsized scrutiny and no forgiveness for even small errors,” because of “undeniable structural issues of race and gender.”
Yet the article also notes that the Democratic National Committee hired “a contract consultant” to assist Harris, and that she has only used the consultant’s services to respond to bad media, doing nothing “proactive” to improve her image or presentation.
Harris has been the source of a number of embarrassing moments for an administration already led by a gaffe-prone president:
- At a March 26 event, Kamala Harris laughed at parents whose children are barred from in-person schooling, quipping that parents are finally “seeing the value of educators”;
- She told NBC News’ Lester Holt that she had already visited the border, prompting him to correct her. “You haven’t been to the border,” he said. “And I haven’t been to Europe,” she replied; and
- Harris has couched her party’s opposition to popular voter integrity measures, such as requiring a photo ID at the polls, on the grounds that it’s “almost impossible” for rural people to find a photocopier.
After the CNN story was published, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki swung into action behind the vice president, tweeting on Sunday: “For anyone who needs to hear it. @VP is not only a vital partner to @POTUS but a bold leader who has taken on key, important challenges facing the country — from voting rights to addressing root causes of migration to expanding broadband.”
Harris has replaced Dick Cheney as the most unpopular vice president in the history of polling, according to Business Insider.
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