Harris’ Dismal First Year

An unintentional barrel of laughs.

When G.B. Shaw opened a new play he sent tickets to Winston Churchill. This ensued.

GBS: “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend … if you have one.”

WSC: “Cannot possibly attend first night; will attend second, if there is one.” There will be no second night for veep Kamala Harris. Done in one term partly because of this disastrous first year. Writer Tom Del Becarro elucidates.

Del Becarro: Much like the famed Hippocratic Oath, the job of a vice president is “First, do no harm.”

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Ideally, a vice president should be supportive of her administration as a political goodwill ambassador that builds her party’s governing coalition. Unfortunately, for Kamala Harris, the Democrats, and the nation so far, Kamala Harris has been unsuited for the job and has endured many self-inflicted wounds en route to her historically low approval numbers.

Thomas Marshall, who may well be unknown to many, said of his vice presidency under Woodrow Wilson: “Being vice president is comparable to a man in a cataleptic fit; he cannot speak; he cannot move; he suffers no pain; he is perfectly conscious of all that goes on, but has no part in it.”

In the 24/7 internet/television age, however, such working anonymity no longer applies, let alone being a job just for men. For Kamala Harris, all of that is especially true.  Beyond being the first woman vice president – let alone her ethnicity – Kamala Harris knew that by taking this job, she would be asked to do much more than every previous vice president because of the physical and mental condition of Joe Biden. Harris jumped at the historic opportunity, but by any measure, it has been a dismal first year.

At the outset, it is easy and right to point to her historically low approval numbers. Her RealClearPolitics polling approval average is at 38.6%. Needless to say, even in this hyper-partisan, divided era, no vice president has ended their first year below 40%.

How she got there is also rather clear. Yes, it is true that President Biden’s policies and polling have been poor as well. In plain truth, however, Harris has not done what it takes to rise above that. First, Harris has not worked hard enough. By the end of October, Harris had missed over 200 daily briefings based on her calendar published by the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, stories are rampant about how her staff-prepared briefing materials go unread by the vice president.

For someone who is new to the executive branch and foreign policy, that lack of work ethic is not only self-inflicted but also a sure-fire path to problems such as the many gaffes Harris has made, internationally and at home. It also has meant she hasn’t performed well as the border czar if at all.

Harris’ off-the-cuff remarks have also been a problem for her and the country. For instance, publicly excoriating the president of Guatemala before you visit him and ask for his cooperation is not acceptable. Neither is earning this headline from the New York Post: “Kamala Harris says ‘democracy’ is biggest national security threat in CBS interview.”

…Will Kamala Harris find her way back? Only time will tell. On the other hand, the bad news is the talk of Democrats is not about her future but whether Hillary Clinton should be the next nominee. That, too, is part of Kamala Harris’ unprecedented bad, self-inflicted first year and could not be worse news for her.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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