Harris to Stephanopoulos: I'm not being underused, I'm getting things done

So says the VP that put over five months between major-outlet interviews. In her first such sit-down on network television since her disastrous chat with NBC’s Lester Holt in early June, Kamala Harris appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to tell George Stephanopoulos that she doesn’t feel “misused” or “underused.” Instead, Harris insists that she and Joe Biden are “getting things done and we’re doing it together.”

All evidence to the contrary, of course:

“Vice presidents always face chatter about their role and their relevance. You’re no exception to that. Even your close friends and allies like the lieutenant governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis, have expressed some frustration because they think you can be more helpful than you’ve been asked to be. Do you share that frustration? What do you say to your friends who are frustrated?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“This was a good week, and this week, when we got this Bipartisan Infrastructure Act passed and signed by the president, makes a statement about all of the hard work that has gone into it, month after month after month. I’ve traveled around the country, as has the president,” Harris answered. “We have convened members of Congress, we have convened people around our nation, asking, ‘what do you want?’ And this is a response to what they want. And it’s actually going to hit the ground in a way that is going to have direct impact on the American people. We’re getting things done, and we’re doing it together.”

“So, you don’t feel misused or underused?” Stephanopoulos followed up.

“No,” Harris said. “I don’t. I’m very, very excited about the work that we have accomplished. But I am also absolutely, absolutely clear-eyed that there is a lot more to do, and we’re gonna get it done.”

If being kept under wraps for five months doesn’t make Harris feel underused, she has a high tolerance for political solitude. Harris did finally make it to Europe last week, five months after she quipped to Holt that she hadn’t been to Europe or the southern border — a comment that drew instant derision and an apparent exile to oblivion by the White House. Her reception on her first foreign-policy trip was less than enthusiastic, and was mostly notable for the vapidity of Harris’ commentary.

The only real news Harris makes in this interview, though, is that the White House has suddenly decided that inflation is “real, and it’s rough.” That is a change from the mocking reaction to inflation reports from Jen Psaki at the White House, and the more official line that inflation is merely “transitory.” Now, Harris claims, inflation os “one of the highest priorities, actually, for the president and me.”

Of course, that hasn’t changed their policy position at all. Biden and Harris pushed their Build Back Better reconciliation bill when they scoffed at inflation, and now Harris pushes it as the solution to inflation:

“So, here’s the thing, talk to 17 Nobel laureates who are economists, who actually have studied the issue and have indicated that we’re not looking at a contribution to inflation, but actually we’re going to bring prices down. In fact, today Moody’s and a number of others have said, listen, when you look at the numbers, the whole point about inflation and why it hurts us is because prices go up. With the Build Back Better agenda, it’s gonna bring the cost down, again, cost of child care, elder care, housing. These are very critical issues for American families, who have to make very difficult choices about whether they can afford to pay for child care, or prescription drugs, or, or pay the rent. So, that’s what we’re going to actually accomplish, accomplish with this, is to bring the prices down.”

The number of Nobel laureates used to be 14, but inflation hits everywhere, right? Their letter did not claim that BBB would solve inflation issues either, as Glenn Kessler noted in a fact check two weeks ago. Actually, some of the signatories suggested that changes to the BBB might have made it worse for inflation, especially in the short run.

But in this, Harris is merely pushing the White House talking points, and doing so relatively competently. If nothing else, Harris managed to avoid the nervous cackle that she exhibits under pressure, and didn’t create any gaffes that got in the way of her messaging. Stephanopoulos didn’t exactly press her with a deluge of tough questioning, and the weird and obvious edit cuts might make some wonder whether Harris’ peculiar tics got excised by ABC at some point. Still, on a pass/fail standard, Harris passed this particular VP test. Let’s see if the White House agrees and sends her back out before the next five months elapses.