Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Problem of Kamala Harris

As Business Insider notes (and is discussed in the video from CNN below)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called Vice President Kamala Harris twice to apologize for an offhand remark about the upcoming 2024 election, but reportedly Harris hasn't called Warren back.

The perceived vice presidential snub came after Warren gave a radio interview in January in which she was dodgy about endorsing Harris as the VP candidate as President Joe Biden signaled his intent to seek reelection, CNN reported.

"I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team," Warren told Boston Public Radio when asked about Harris, shortly after enthusiastically endorsing Biden.

She added: "I've known Kamala for a long time. I like Kamala. I knew her back when she was an attorney general, and I was still teaching and we worked on the housing crisis together, so we go way back. But they need — they have to be a team, and my sense is they are — I don't mean that by suggesting I think there are any problems. I think they are."

Within days, Warren issued a statement saying that she "fully" supports a Biden-Harris 2024 ticket "and never intended to imply otherwise," Boston Public Radio reported.

A source close to Harris told CNN that the incident was "pretty insulting."

Insulting? Now it's "pretty insulting" when a Senator states "my sense is they are" a "team." Now it's "pretty insulting" when a Senator who has praised the President, acknowledges what everyone knows- that the choice of a running mate is the prerogative of that President.

But as every pol in the Democratic Party realizes- which evidently no one will admit- there is something "pretty insulting" in this saga. The report continues

Warren, however, has not been able to speak with the vice president since, the outlet reported. Instead, Warren has only communicated with Harris' chief of staff, Lorraine Voles, who returned Warren's call in lieu of the vice president, CNN reported.

Warren is a United States senator, an essential part of a bare majority in the upper chamber of members of the party of the President and of the Vice President. Yet Harris wouldn't call her, leaving the task to her chief of staff, as if to say "I'm too important to listen to her."

If Warren has lost confidence in Harris, she is not alone because

The feud joins a list of other infractions made by those within the Democratic party who have, in the eyes of Harris' staff, snubbed her performance and abilities.

In February, several Democrats from the White House and congress told The New York Times they had lost hope in Harris, who they felt failed to rise to the occasion of her office.

I don't know what the occasion is of the vice presidency, given that the only constitutionally specified duty of the office is to cast the deciding vote when there is a tie in the Senate, which Harris has done very well. However

Months before (February), Biden himself hinted at tensions when he was quoted as telling a close friend that Harris was a "work in progress" in Chris Whipple's book "Fight of his Life," Business Insider previously reported. At the time, according to Whipple, Biden was annoyed that First Gentleman Doug Emhoff had complained about Harris' policy assignments.

Credit Joe Biden for at least recognizing the obvious.  Less credit should be given the vice president, who now won't call a prominent United States senator to complain about a perceived slight and apparently left it to her husband to complain about policy assignments.

Nevertheless, one can credit Kamala Harris with this: she has attitude, only not in a good way. In July, 2020 the American Prospect explained

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a leading candidate to be Joe Biden’s running mate, repeatedly and openly defied U.S. Supreme Court orders to reduce overcrowding in California prisons while serving as the state’s attorney general, according to legal documents reviewed by the Prospect. Working in tandem with Gov. Jerry Brown, Harris and her legal team filed motions that were condemned by judges and legal experts as obstructionist, bad-faith, and nonsensical, at one point even suggesting that the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction to order a reduction in California’s prison population.

The intransigence of this legal work resulted in the presiding judges in the case giving serious consideration to holding the state in contempt of court. Observers worried that the behavior of Harris’s office had undermined the very ability of federal judges to enforce their legal orders at the state level, pushing the federal court system to the brink of a constitutional crisis. This extreme resistance to a Supreme Court ruling was done to prevent the release of fewer than 5,000 nonviolent offenders, whom multiple courts had cleared as presenting next to no risk of recidivism or threat to public safety.

Why bother showing any respect for the court-- or for Elizabeth Warren or even Joe Biden, other than to come out periodically and strategically declare her undying admiration for him.  Yet Kamala Harris, selected to be the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee because she was born female and black, feels snubbed or, in the last decade's lexicon, disrespected.

During the period of black lives matter and of the George Floyd protests, Kamala Harris, a powerful, de facto advocate for mass incarceration, was placed on the presidential ticket by the nation's more liberal party. Elizabeth Warren hurt her feelings and won't return her call. Harris is a problem, though one of his own creation, for Joe Biden.  In some way at some point, consequences for the Democratic Party and the nation itself may follow. 


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