It’s a sure sign that things are not going well that few seem able to tally exactly how many senior staffers have abandoned their positions with Kamala Harris since she took office. There have been reports for nearly a year now that Harris’ office was “abusive” and “a place where people feel treated like s—.” Even back then a lot of the blame for that was being placed on Harris’ Chief of Staff Tina Flournoy. Now it seems they’ve finally run out of other people to blame.
Tina Flournoy, chief of staff to Vice President Harris, is preparing to depart the White House, capping a long list of aides who have left Harris’s office in recent months, and is set to be replaced by Lorraine Voles, a veteran Democratic operative and communications expert…
Flournoy has led the vice president’s operation since the start of the administration, overseeing all staff and setting the strategic direction for a historic and high-profile vice president. That makes her the highest-ranking of a sizable group of top officials who have left Harris’s office recently, including her deputy chief of staff, national security adviser and speechwriter.
Flournoy is leaving for personal reasons, a White House official said Thursday.
Ah, yes, personal reasons. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the string of embarrassing events where Harris inevitably sounds like a kid doing a book report for a book they didn’t read.
When your book report on space is due and you didn’t do any of it… pic.twitter.com/LIBeFNc1Ay
— Five Times August (@FiveTimesAugust) April 20, 2022
Whatever the reason, this really does cap a remarkable string of resignations.
- Her communications chief, Ashley Etienne, left last November.
- Symone Sanders, her chief spokesperson, left in December.
- In early January, director of press operations Peter Velz left as did her deputy director of public engagement, Vincent Evans.
- Speechwriter Kate Childs Graham left in early February.
- In March, deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh quit.
- Her national security adviser, Nancy McEldowney, left a couple weeks later.
- And earlier this month her deputy chief of staff Michael Fuchs left.
I know I’ve omitted at least two staffers who left with Etienne last year but there may be more. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Kamala Harris is a truly terrible boss. These are plum jobs working for the White House but no one seems able to stay in them for very long. I think the Washington Post probably put their finger on the problem when they wrote about this last December:
Critics scattered over two decades point to an inconsistent and at times degrading principal who burns through seasoned staff members who have succeeded in other demanding, high-profile positions. People used to putting aside missteps, sacrificing sleep and enduring the occasional tirade from an irate boss say doing so under Harris can be particularly difficult, as she has struggled to make progress on her vice-presidential portfolio or measure up to the potential that has many pegging her as the future of the Democratic Party…
Staffers who worked for Harris before she was vice president said one consistent problem was that Harris would refuse to wade into briefing materials prepared by staff members, then berate employees when she appeared unprepared.
“It’s clear that you’re not working with somebody who is willing to do the prep and the work,” one former staffer said. “With Kamala you have to put up with a constant amount of soul-destroying criticism and also her own lack of confidence. So you’re constantly sort of propping up a bully and it’s not really clear why.”
Who wants to spend their days propping up a bully who spends her days berating them? That would get old fast.
A few weeks ago someone on Twitter suggested that sending Harris to Kyiv to meet with Zelensky (as Boris Johnson had just done) might be a good fit for her. All she really has to do is show up and shake a few hands to convey US support. But an image immediately came to my mind. Picture it with me: Kamala Harris is walking through the streets of Kyiv with Zelensky. The streets are calm but there’s no mistaking this is a war zone. They are surrounded by guards with machine guns on all sides, highlighting the unusual danger. And then, for some reason no one would ever be able to explain, Harris would start to giggle or cackle or whatever that thing is she does when she’s uncomfortable. It would be the most cringe-inducing video clip in recent memory and probably the end of her political career. Does anyone really doubt it could happen?
Look back over that list of staffers and you might notice most of them worked in communications. Clearly there’s a lot of heat falling on the staff who, no matter what they do, can’t seem to make Harris look competent when she steps out to speak. They’ve tried everything, even putting her together with a group of child actors. Nothing works because the problem isn’t the audience it’s the speaker. Everyone of those Democrats listed above knows as much and one day, when they’re finally ready to cash in on a sweet book deal, we’ll all get to hear about it.