How do you solve a problem like Kamala? The short answer for Democrats is … they can’t. Put aside for the moment that her 28% approval rating may be the only thing making Joe Biden look good — well, not good, but less disastrous than he might otherwise look. Structurally, politically, and culturally, Democrats are stuck with her.
Joe Concha wrote at length about the albatross factor Harris has become for Biden and the White House, which has made her even less available than Biden to reporters:
But as things stand now, one has to wonder how Kamala Harris even remains on the ticket in 2024, regardless of who the nominee might be. A USA Today-Suffolk University poll finds that just 28 percent of voters — less than 3 in 10 — approve of the job Harris is doing. For context, that’s 10 points below her boss (38 percent approve, 59 percent disapprove). For more context, Harris was at 46 percent approval and 40 percent disapproval upon entering office, per USA Today-Suffolk. …
It’s been 153 days since her last sit-down interview with a major broadcast news entity, in the form of NBC’s Lester Holt. You may recall that was the beginning of the end of the administration’s confidence in her abilities to handle even the most basic of questions.
Just in case anyone’s forgotten the Holt debacle, Concha provides a Zeke Miller tweet with the embarrassing exchange:
LESTER HOLT: You haven't been to the border.
KAMALA HARRIS: And I haven't been to Europe. pic.twitter.com/Vj6M261Nx3
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) June 8, 2021
After that, the White House has only allowed her one more national-platform appearance, and even that was in the friendliest confines possible:
Since then, the only interview Harris has granted was to “The View” on ABC. Her own staff couldn’t have provided a gentler platform.
The vice president has yet to do a solo press conference. Out of sight, out of mind. And when judging Harris solely on the primary task she was given by the president, 23 percent approve of the administration’s handling of the U.S. border, or less than one-quarter.
There’s a reason for her invisibility — Harris is terrible at her job. Concha reminds readers that Biden picked Harris to satisfy progressives angry over the nomination of another white establishment politician rather than a nominee that exemplified the diversity the party wanted. (Recall that the other option for the nomination was Bernie Sanders.) The “deal” was that Harris would serve as Biden’s deputy and take the baton pass from Biden and assume control of the party, having established enough bona fides by that point to lock out any other contenders.
As plans go, it certainly looked good. However, Democrats should have figured out why they ended up with two old white guys vying for the nomination in the first place. Harris turned out to be terrible in competitive political environments, something she never had to face in deep-blue California. Harris went into the primary as the odds-on favorite, thanks to her status as the first potential woman of color to run as a major-party nominee. Instead of swamping the field early as expected, Harris fell flat on her face after a few awful debate performances in which Tulsi Gabbard humiliatingly depantsed her on national television. By early fall, her support dropped to microscopic levels, so low that the 28% in the USA Today/Suffolk poll looks like a mandate in comparison. It turns out that Harris is every bit the empty suit that Biden himself is, and perhaps even emptier.
But now that they’re stuck with a lemon, how do Democrats get out of this “deal”? Piers Morgan has some suggestions for Democrats to escape their Dumb & Dumber predicament:
Theoretically they could both stay in office until 2024 while a new field of Democrat candidates fought it out for the nomination. But what would stop Kamala running too?
The Constitution doesn’t allow Biden to fire Harris personally, but he and the Democrat leadership can engineer the removal of a vice-president who has proven to be completely out of her depth and a perilous threat to the Party’s electoral chances.
He could then appoint a new voter-friendly moderate VP who could use the platform to not only have a better chance of beating the GOP candidate next time round but lend some excitement and luster to this already-exhausted looking administration as well.
Whether the current woke-crazed Democratic party is capable of navigating its internal sexual and racial politics to land on such a happy candidate is, to be honest, a pretty big question.
Actually, party leadership has no real way to “engineer the removal of a vice-president,” not unless the VP wants to leave. Vice presidents are elected to their positions, so they cannot be fired. The 25th Amendment only applies to presidents, not vice-presidents, so there is no mechanism to remove a VP for incompetence or any other reason. And the reason for that oversight is pretty obvious: other than casting tiebreakers in the Senate and presiding over ceremonial processes, the VP has absolutely no constitutional duties. It’s tough to be incompetent at being the spare heartbeat, after all. The only mechanism for removing Harris unwillingly is impeachment, and that’s not gonna happen. (And on what basis could it proceed, anyway?)
Even if someone convinced Harris to resign, which will never happen, what then? Yes, Biden could appoint a “voter friendly moderate” replacement, but he’d still have to get that nominee through a 50/50 Senate and a nearly 50/50 House, both of which must confirm the appointment according to the 25th Amendment. Would Senate Republicans play along with those kinds of naked electoral shenanigans? And for that matter, would progressives in the House or Senate blithely allow Biden to torpedo their ally in favor of a moderate designed to get a leg up in the next presidential primary? We just watched progressives hold a bill they actually liked hostage for three months in an attempt to impose their will on party leadership. And if the “voter-friendly moderate” turns out to be another white male, fuhgeddaboudit.
And even if somehow all of that managed to work out, how would it look to voters? That’s why incumbent presidents rarely change running mates for re-election campaigns, because it serves as an admission of error in judgment. If Biden doesn’t run again, that’s less of a problem — but to keep Harris from competing for the nomination, leadership will have to figure out a way to kneecap the woman they built up as the future of the party.
Or, maybe they won’t need to do anything under those circumstances. Harris is so bad at her job that they can let her torpedo herself, especially in a cycle where Biden’s terrible performance practically guarantees a change of control in the White House anyway. This problem will likely solve itself in the end.