John Nance Garner, a Texan who served as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vice president for eight years, famously quipped that the vice presidency was “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” Garner wasn’t necessarily wrong. But the groundbreaking election of Kamala Harris was supposed to transform the office. After all, she was the first woman, the first black person, and the first South Asian VP. Little else mattered. She was a badass, and if you didn’t acknowledge her intersectional excellence, you were a sexist, racist goon.
Even many on the right thought Harris might play an outsized role as VP, given President Biden’s cognitive frailty. As we’re now halfway through Harris’s first term in office, it’s a good time to take stock of all that’s gone wrong.
In the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, Harris is drowning in disapproval, with 36 percent of Americans regarding her favorably and 53 percent unfavorably. This shouldn’t be surprising. When she dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, Harris was polling at 3 percent in Iowa. But the level of Harris’s unpopularity is still stunning due to the looming 2024 contest. Instead of backing Harris, many Democrats may have to put aside their reservations about Biden running again at eighty-two and back what would be another historic candidacy, this one for its potential to transform the White House into a de facto nursing home.
Even in his prime, the president has never been regarded as particularly brilliant by anyone other than himself. (Recall that he claimed to have three undergraduate degrees, attended law school on a full academic scholarship, and graduated in the top half of his class, when, in fact, none of these things were true.) Yet in particular his decision to ask Harris to address the border crisis was a bit like the Christian Coalition tapping porn star Ron Jeremy to lead an abstinence campaign. Let’s recall Harris’s record on the issue: she likened ICE agents to the KKK during a 2018 confirmation hearing in the Senate. She and several other Democrats, including Biden, signaled at the primary debates that they supported decriminalizing illegal border crossings and providing free healthcare for illegal aliens.
As a presidential candidate, Harris promised to sign an executive order that, by her reckoning, would have provided a path to citizenship for some six million illegal aliens. She co-sponsored the Immigration Enforcement Moratorium Act, which would have halted deportations indefinitely, even for illegal aliens convicted of serious crimes like homicide and sexual assaults against children. And in 2012, while serving as California’s attorney general, she announced that law enforcement officers in the state could ignore Obama administration requests to hold undocumented immigrants, arguing they weren’t obligated to comply with federal law.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that the border crisis got worse on her watch until Biden quietly took her off of the issue without announcing he was doing so. What is Kamala up to now? Scrolling through a Twitter fan page, @WhereisKamala, gives us some clues. She drew a decent crowd for a speech commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade in Tallahassee, a college town that’s full of still-masked liberals.
Aside from abortion, the “climate crisis” appears to be a big part of her portfolio. It’s difficult to point to any signature achievements on this issue, though she’s made it quite clear she’s a big fan of Venn diagrams and yellow school buses, especially electric ones. At an appearance touting the use of electric school buses in Seattle last October, she said, “Who doesn’t love a yellow school bus, right? Can you raise your hand if you love a yellow school bus? Many of us went to school on the yellow school bus, right? It’s part of our experience growing up.”
This month in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Harris waxed nostalgic about school buses again. “I’m excited about electric school buses,” she gushed. “I love electric school buses. I just love them for so many reasons. Maybe because I went to school on a school bus” (insert hysterical cackling here).
In the same speech, Harris also said, “all our work [has] been fueled by the importance of equity,” and referred to equity as “her life’s work.” That would square with a fawning appraisal of her first two years in office recently published by the Women’s Media Center. The piece lauded Kamala Harris for essentially being Kamala Harris. As far as I could tell, her signature achievements, by their reckoning, have included meeting with lots of important world leaders, racking up frequent flyer miles, and breaking twenty-five ties in the Senate. Nice work if you can get it.
In another typically hallucinogenic assessment of her first two years published by the Hill, a reporter quoted a source who said Harris is “challenging stereotypes every day by simply doing the job.” The piece acknowledged her dismal poll numbers but suggested she ought to “let the public see more glimpses of the real Harris to try to improve those numbers.”
The “reporter,” Amie Parnes, strongly implied that Harris has a great sense of humor, is quite charming, and is an all-around swell person, even if people are too blinded by racism and sexism to see it. Yet if she’s so terrific, why did the left-wing Politico publish a damning report about the “unhealthy” work environment in her office? And why have at least twenty-five of her key staffers quit?
There’s something quite strange and unappealing about Harris that’s hard to pinpoint. Watch, for example, the bizarre video she produced with child actors about space exploration and you’ll see what I mean. “You guys are gonna see, you’re gonna LITERALLY see the craters of the moon with your OWN eyes,” she said, pointing at one of her eyes as if the paid actors were toddlers who didn’t understand English.
Harris is an advocate for the Biden administration’s policies. But she’s only set out to sell them in friendly territory. Just how much of a liability is she? Consider the fact that the administration deployed her to only the bluest places in the country — Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York City — in the final week before the midterms.
In her ineptitude, Harris is a living reminder of the perils of eliminating approximately 94 percent of the American public from a job selection process. Two years into her historic tenure, I submit that her greatest attribute is her remarkable ability to make us laugh, not with jokes but with legendary word salads and pedantic hectoring. Yet in her own peculiar way, Harris is a lot more fun to have in office than Mike Pence or Dick Cheney or Dan Quayle.