Who fears crossing Kamala Harris?

Kamala Harris is, in theory, the second-most powerful person in the executive branch and a 79-year-old-man’s heartbeat away from the presidency. And yet clearly this former staffer does not fear the consequences of criticizing Harris in print, and apparently quite a few former Harris staffers are willing, perhaps even eager, to speak without attribution about her flaws. They apparently don’t fear the day when Harris is in the Oval Office and, having figured out which former staffers were eager to blab to the Post or other publications, could effectively blacklist them from administration jobs. (Perhaps this former staffer either already feels blacklisted or thinks so poorly of Harris that he or she never wants to work under her in any capacity again, even if she were to become president.) The upshot of this story is that it seems no one really fears crossing Kamala Harris.

This illuminates one of the great contrasts between the hype and mythology surrounding Kamala Harris — “Making History”, smiling on the cover of Vogue, etc. — and the mundane reality. A surprising number of people who have actually worked with and for her not only don’t see her as a legend, an icon, or an inspiring leader, they walk away from their experience with her not thinking all that highly of her. She may well have been a talented prosecutor, but in a lot of ways she’s just a standard-issue pol who figured out how to climb the ladder of interest-group dominated California politics. She’s in over her head, her political instincts are terrible, and that’s even before the uniquely challenging dynamics of this particular presidency – unfamiliar staff, old president, few real friendships on Capitol Hill, and an unclear sense of priorities.