Biden doesn't see Harris as 'somebody who takes anything off of his plate'

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Reuters published a story yesterday titled “Tethered together, Biden and Harris move toward 2024 re-election run.” The story walks through many of the things we’ve discussed before about VP Kamala Harris and how she makes it almost necessary for Biden to run again in 2024. Simply put, there is no one else who seems remotely credible, certainly not Harris.


“If he did not think she was capable, he would not have picked her. But it is a question of consistently rising to the occasion,” said the former official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I think his running for re-election is less about her and more about him, but I do think that she and the Democratic bench (are) a factor.”

Even if there were some plausible alternative candidate besides Harris, getting around her would be extremely awkward. And that’s true for the idea of replacing her on the ticket. Identity is everything in today’s Democratic Party.

Biden could lose crucial votes if he were to drop Harris, who is both the first Black and Asian-American U.S. vice president.

“You cannot replace your first Black woman vice president and think that Black people and women are going to just vote for you,” the former White House official said. “He needs her.”

Of course the VP’s primary job is to be ready to step up into the top spot if necessary. It sounds like no one really wants to contemplate that.

“In a Machiavellian sense, Democrats think that Biden is hopefully fine for another term and we don’t have to worry about the second-in-command, because I think, in our mind, Biden lasts another term and then Harris is not the preordained Democratic nominee (for 2028),” [Democratic strategist Bud] Jackson said.

To be fair, the story does contain some positive remarks from Cedric Richmond (“He leans on her a lot.”) and from Chief of Staff Jeff Zients (“She’s doing so much heavy lifting and doing it so well.”) but that’s all just set up for the most significant quote in the story.


“A point of tension in their relationship is that I don’t think that the president sees her as somebody who takes anything off of his plate,” a second former White House official said, adding a “fear of messing up” had led Harris to be late to the game on important issues.

In short, other people may see Harris as carrying a lot of responsibility but President Biden doesn’t always see it that way. The next several paragraphs are pushback on this quote from people pointing to abortion as an area where Harris has clearly taken some of the load and where Biden has praised her for doing so. Reuters notes that praise from Biden came after the publication of their story.

I don’t envy the Biden White House. They are already struggling to deal with lots of real problems and on top of that they have to baby Kamala Harris who has proven herself unable to win over any crowd on any issue. Even with a group of child actors hired to seem enthusiastic about whatever she says, she can’t quite pull it off. It feels like we’re watching a bad actress who just can’t do anything with the lines.

These clips pop up all the time. Honestly, I don’t even watch them anymore because I’m not a huge fan of cringe humor. Even people on the left were mocking one of her most recent appearances.


The White House is stuck trying to protect Harris from the harsh reality that she’s terrible at a job which has no clear job requirements. All she really has to do is back up the president and generate some positive press once in a while on second tier issues. But she just goes from one appearance to another, cackling her way through speeches.

There were moments in her Senate days when she seemed competent but now it’s like she has the world’s worst case of imposter syndrome. Her fear of saying the wrong thing leads her to say almost nothing which results in that same old vibe, i.e. she’s a kid giving a book report on a book she didn’t read.

Near the end of George W. Bush’s 2nd term, when he was being protested by thousands of people in the streets, it seemed that at every press conference he spoke more and more slowly. I saw the same thing with Barack Obama at times. He was measuring each word, clearly trying to avoid the minefield of negative press that followed from saying the wrong thing.

Harris is having the same problem but just showing it in a different way. That nervous laugh of hers is about desperately trying to get people on her side. Her vague answers, like the one above, are about not offending anyone by not really saying anything at all. She’s constantly in a defensive crouch which only leads to more failure. On a human level, I feel bad for her. I’m halfway rooting for her to have a solid moment just because this feels cruel.


Ultimately, much of the blame here falls on Joe Biden. The world may be shaking their head at Kamala Harris but some of that is because Joe Biden has been such a train wreck there really aren’t many moments to shine. Handing Harris immigration when it was already a disaster with no clear solution wasn’t Joe’s best moment. Yes, she fumbled it badly but so has everyone else who has touched it including Joe Biden. She may not be doing a great job but the truth is her job barely matters. His job does and he’s not doing a great job with it.

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