I think this is just good old-fashioned sh*t-stirring by righty media looking to capitalize on tensions within the White House, not something to be taken seriously. But I’m happy to help with the stirring by posting it here.
WOAH: There's talk on Capitol Hill about the mechanics of a confirmation hearing to fill a VP vacancy amid Kamala's nose-diving approval numbers and reports of a strained relationship between Biden and Harris pic.twitter.com/9W0AUakmiw
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 17, 2021
I can’t imagine Team Joe forcing Harris out, knowing the firestorm that would ignite about disparate treatment for the first black woman to serve as VP. If they were to do it, they’d have to give her a new position at least as eminent as the one she holds now, and realistically the only option is Supreme Court justice. But Harris would be old by the standards of modern Court nominees — she’s 57 — and there’s no guarantee that a Republican-run Senate would confirm her. Which means Biden has exactly one year, while Dems still control the upper chamber, to push her out and add her to the Court.
And of course, even that would depend on Stephen Breyer’s willingness to cooperate.
The other problem with booting Harris is that the only way Biden could dodge accusations of racism and sexism is if he replaced her with another black woman. But who? Susan Rice? Stacey Abrams? Rice has never held elected office at any level. Stacey Abrams has never held statewide office, and Abrams is further left than Harris is. If the idea in replacing Harris is to elevate someone to vice president who’s more capable than she is of winning a national election, it’s highly questionable whether Rice or Abrams is an improvement. Abrams would motivate lefties and African-Americans to turn out but there’s no telling how suburban voters would react to her. She might very well do more to goose Republican turnout among rural voters than she did to goose Democratic turnout.
And of course, given her own electoral history, Abrams is singularly poorly positioned to challenge Trump on his election trutherism.
Lefty Eric Levitz made the case a few days ago that Harris is highly likely to be the Democratic nominee in 2024 if Biden doesn’t run, essentially through process of elimination. If not her, who?
[I]t’s not as though there is some evident Democratic alternative for 2024 that will just blow her away on the winds of charisma, popularity, and electability. There’s talk of Pete Buttigieg as a non-Kamala option for 2024, but is this man, who struggled throughout the 2020 nominating contest to establish even the slightest connection to Black voters, going to take them away from Harris? Is Bernie really going to run again at the age of 83? Is Elizabeth Warren going to give up a Senate seat to run at the age of 75? Is there anyone from the left who won’t cede Harris the center, or from the center who won’t cede her the left, along with the bulk of Black voters? Is there anyone else whom the Biden-Harris administration might not intimidate with political threats or seduce with influence and possibly a Cabinet post or an ambassadorship who would pose a real threat to the veep’s nomination? It’s not impossible, but it’s very implausible.
An ominous scenario: If Biden attempted to replace Harris in 2023 or 2024, would the GOP majority in the House and/or Senate allow a replacement to be confirmed? Presumably anyone whom Biden taps as her successor will be seen as more likely to win the 2024 election than Harris herself is, increasing the Democrats’ chances of holding the White House. Pre-Trump, I think a Republican Congress would confirm that nominee anyway for the simple reason that the country must have a vice president. Someone needs to be up to speed and ready to step in if our geriatric president were suddenly to die. But in the Trump era, it’s easy to imagine Republicans refusing categorically to confirm anyone, especially a nominee who might be formidable as a national candidate post-Biden. Why confirm Michelle Obama, say, as vice president knowing that that would give her a degree of incumbency to run on in 2024?
The congressional GOP might choose to leave the office of VP vacant, particularly knowing that that would make one of their own — Speaker Kevin McCarthy — next in line for the presidency. That would be unspeakably reckless but the nihilistic impulse to seek every advantage and never cooperate with the other party, even for the good of the country, might lead them to it.
So if Harris is going anywhere it’ll have to happen before January 2023, while Democrats still control Congress. But … maybe that’s what the White House has in mind? Mickey Kaus makes the case that if they’re going to push Harris out, the sooner they do it, the better:
Do I mean to suggest that Biden’s White House encouraged, maybe even proposed, CNN’s nasty take? Yes! But why? The answer seems to be: If Biden declines to run again, and Harris declares her candidacy in 2023 or even 2024, it will be very hard to stop her without being accused of racism and/or sexism and/or disloyalty. Biden himself will be put on the spot — endorse or not endorse? The time to short-circuit Harris is now, before she begins her run. Signal that you’re giving potential opponents time and political space to build up their reps and their networks.
This is what the Biden team, worried that Harris will be a loser, seems to be diligently doing.
I’d say there’s a less than five percent chance that she goes. But the more likely it seems that Trump will run and the greater the panic on the left that we might yet see a second Trump term, the more ruthless Democrats will be in making sure they have their strongest possible candidate at the top of the ticket. If that means ousting Harris and elevating someone else, so be it. But there’s a very real scenario in which, due to the reality of racial politics, the presumption that the VP is next in line, and the thinness of their bench, they’re stuck with Harris as their next nominee. They’re in trouble.