New on this season of Veep: Harris comms director has comms problems with Hispanics

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Kamala Harris brought in Jamal Simmons as her new communications director in order to reverse the public perception of a stumbling, bumbling, fumbling Vice President. Instead, Simmons’ hiring might end up confirming that assessment. Apparently no one bothered to check Simmons’ social-media history before he joined Harris’ team. That’s already led to one embarrassment, and now Democrats have yet another issue with a key demographic:

A day after his new role was announced, immigration rights advocates unearthed tweets from 2010, when Simmons commented on the appearance of two “undocumented folks” who appeared on MSNBC.

“Why wouldn’t ICE pick them up?” Simmons asked, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Apparently no one at Harris’ office bothered to vet Simmons’ Twitter trail (or have him dump it) before he took the job. Instead, users did the job themselves:

Er … wouldn’t a competent comms director advise a client to make sure a new hire or applicant for a public-facing political position had thoroughly vetted/expunged their social media trail? It’s one thing when the nominee to the Office of Management and Budget doesn’t think to hide her social-media tracks before accepting a high-profile position in an administration. It’s another entirely when a new comms director doesn’t think to check his own comms trail before joining the team.

This doesn’t bode well for any attempt to enhance the competence in Harris’ office, in other words. And for the moment, it’s putting a wedge between the administration and yet another progressive caucus on Capitol Hill, which Harris and Joe Biden can ill afford at the moment:

Jamal Simmons, Vice President Kamala Harris’ new communications director, is scheduled to meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Thursday to listen to their concerns about his old tweets, congressional officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: Harris has been seeking to reset her public image and professional accomplishments. Yet her new communications chief faces questions from a key constituency not only to the Biden administration but her potential presidential prospects.

  • In summoning Simmons to a full CHC videoconference, some Latino lawmakers are indicating their level of concern over his 2010 tweets — in which he appeared to call for the deportation of an undocumented migrant being interviewed on MSNBC — and want to have a frank and direct conversation with him.
  • “The statements that Jamal made were just stunning, beyond stunning. Words cannot describe my feelings,” Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) told Axios.
  • “Is he a Trumper? That’s a question I might ask him,” Correa said.
  • “I am being public about it, because he was public. He was honest. And I am being honest. And that’s what the public deserves.”

It seems highly doubtful that Simmons is a Trumper, a charge that Correa knows full well will embarrass Harris. However, this may not just be a question of wringing an apology just for some old tweets. Axios reports further that Hispanic progressives are still angry over Harris’ attempt to discourage border migration with her “do not come” speech in June. Simmons’ appointment disappointed the CHC, which thought Harris should have hired a Hispanic for better representation on asylum issues especially. And this all takes place in a context in which Hispanic voters are walking away from Biden and Harris as they delve more deeply in black-centric wokeism while ignoring the economic and security issues that Hispanics have, especially in urban areas.

Simmons has already tried apologizing to some lawmakers, and it seems unlikely that Harris will cashier him over this alone. Still, you only get one chance to make a good impression, and this leaves everyone with the impression that Veep‘s Selina Meyer was more competent than Kamala Harris has turned out to be in real life. Maybe Harris should hire some of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ writers instead.