Harris responds to question about Russia and Ukraine: I can't talk about classified information

Between her terrible performance as a presidential candidate and the perception of haplessness she’s earned as VP, one can’t watch this without wondering if she answers the way she does because she … just doesn’t know what to say.

Is she even being looped in on foreign policy briefings at this point?

This clip has the feel of a student being asked to come to the front of the class and read the book report they forgot to write and telling the teacher they left it at home.

As bad as Harris is, Biden bears a ton of responsibility for her dismal public image as vice president. Not all responsibility: You watched those primary debates like I did and saw what happened when Tulsi Gabbard came at her. But Harris has been saddled with two problems beyond her own awful retail skills. One, per Yuval Levin, is that she’s a relative newcomer in Washington who’s serving as VP to a consummate insider. Levin notes that we tend to nominate outsiders for president and then they tend to nominate insiders as vice president, someone who knows how Congress works and how the legislative sausage gets made. But Biden himself fills that niche much more comfortably than Harris does. As it is, says Levin, she’s stuck in the Dan Quayle role of seeming completely useless to her more experienced boss, which feeds the impression that she’s out of her depth.

Biden could try to solve that problem by putting Harris in charge of popular administration initiatives that would generate flattering coverage for her. But instead he’s done the opposite, sticking her with some of the worst sh*t work in Washington. There’s no policy issue in the United States more thankless than immigration, as the right is forever disappointed that migrants continue to cross the border and the left is forever disappointed that not enough migrants are crossing the border. So what does Biden do? He makes Kamala Harris his de facto border czar, charged with somehow figuring out a way to keep asylum-seekers from leaving Central America.

Another thankless policy issue is voting rights. Democrats are united lockstep behind federal efforts to liberalize voting but those efforts are doomed to fail due to Joe Manchin’s and Kyrsten Sinema’s refusal to reform the filibuster. Who does Biden decide to put in charge of voting reform, then, knowing that that person is destined to be frustrated and have nothing to show for their work? Why, Kamala Harris, of course.

Over the weekend, he announced that he was creating a new position to oversee distribution of the funds from the new bipartisan roads-and-bridges bill. The bipartisan bill is popular, with more than 60 percent support in multiple surveys. And infrastructure is an unusually concrete (no pun intended) form of spending, with voters able to see the results with their own eyes. Biden looked at all of that and thought, “This is a job for … not Kamala Harris.”

Ahead of signing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act tomorrow, President Biden is naming Mitch Landrieu as senior advisor responsible for coordinating for implementation of this historic bipartisan infrastructure law.

In this role, Landrieu will oversee the most significant and comprehensive investments in American infrastructure in generations—work that independent experts verify will create millions of high-paying, union jobs while boosting our economic competitiveness in the world, strengthening our supply chains, and acting against inflation for the long term.

Why the hell didn’t he put Harris in charge of infrastructure, giving her lots of easy photo ops breaking ground on new projects, re-opening repaired bridges, etc? That’s exactly the image boost she needs, evidence that she can get tangible results for Americans instead of just standing silently over Biden’s shoulder when he’s reading some major announcement.

Do Democrats realize yet that the weaker Harris looks, the greater the odds that 2024 is going tear their party apart? If 82-year-old Joe Biden decides that he can’t run again, having a VP who’s popular and viewed as competent would minimize the disruption in transitioning to a new nominee. As it is, Harris is so damaged already that Dems may not be able to avoid a contested primary. And if the primary is contested, resentments will turn acidic in no time:

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is the point person on implementing much of the popular bipartisan infrastructure deal. This fall, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) boosted the mayor of Manchester, N.H., during her recent reelection campaign and is keeping in touch with allies in the critical primary state, according to people familiar with the calls. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is on a book tour and campaigned in Virginia for Terry McAuliffe. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed left-wing and progressive candidates outside of Massachusetts this past year…

“She’s definitely not going to clear the f—ing field,” said one veteran New Hampshire operative [of Harris].

That would be hard enough for Dems under any circumstances. But with a black woman as Biden’s heir apparent, it’s inevitable that a primary challenge to Harris will be viewed by some as a racist and sexist affront that wouldn’t have been tolerated by party leaders if she were a white man. Per CNN, there’s already some bitterness among Harris allies about how vigorously the White House defended Pete Buttigieg when he was criticized for taking paternity leave during the infrastructure process in Congress. “It’s hard to miss the specific energy that the White House brings to defend a White man, knowing that Kamala Harris has spent almost a year taking a lot of the hits that the West Wing didn’t want to take themselves,” said one former Harris aide to the outlet. Meanwhile, these two tweets made the rounds on political Twitter this morning:

If Harris loses a primary to Buttigieg or some other white and/or male challenger, the new Dem nominee may lose too much nonwhite support to be viable in the general election. On the other hand, if Dems insist on nominating Harris for fear of alienating black and women voters if they deny her “her turn” as nominee, they may be DOA in the general because she seems unlikely to win a general election. They’re in a real bind here, which is why Biden may have no choice but to run again if he’s able or, if he can’t, why Dems may have to beg Michelle Obama to get in instead. I don’t know what the alternative is that doesn’t cause the party to fracture.