Her Name’s Kamala Harris. She’s The Vice President.
Vice President Kamala Harris let loose on Charlamagne Tha God during an appearance Friday on his Comedy Central show, Tha God’s Honest Truth.
Mr. Tha God asked Harris: "I want to know who the real president of this country is — is it Joe Biden, or Joe Manchin?” And Harris clapped back: "It's Joe Biden — and don't start talking like a Republican! It's Joe Biden. And I'm vice president, and my name is Kamala Harris.”
Now everyone knows who everyone’s name is, but did we actually settle the question of who’s in charge? I personally don’t think that someone is automatically a Republican because they ask uncomfortable questions. That’s too clubby a retort for my tastes. Besides, actual Republicans are more inclined to argue that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Harris herself are pulling Biden’s strings.
@VP Kamala Harris shutdown @cthagod after the radio host asked her to name the country's "real president.\u201dpic.twitter.com/ipRHjEvdtj— Jessica Ashley Floyd (@Jessica Ashley Floyd) 1639796361
Still, this was admittedly a badass moment for Harris that lasted for almost 48 hours. Then Joe Manchin told Fox News that “No, West Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.” He killed Biden’s domestic agenda dead, and even so there are folks remain confident that this is just part of the dance with Manchin. They don’t seem to appreciate enthusiastic consent. Manchin was pretty firm with his “no.” Let’s believe him.
Harris isn’t responsible for Joe Manchin’s trifling ass, and she did her job as vice president, which is to support Joe Biden. This makes her superior to Manchin, whom Never Trump conservatives curiously praise as somehow helping Biden’s agenda by blocking most of it. Yet, Harris, who is consistently loyal to the president, is treated as an albatross around his neck.
I think Harris deserves high marks for job performance, and David Rothkof at The Daily Beast agrees. It’s his position that Harris is doing a great job but her story’s not getting out. There’s too much noise about her taste in headphones and French cookware. Rothkopf argues that the Harris hit pieces "have come despite a first-year track record that is impressive, substantive, and wide-ranging.”
Indeed, upon examination, Kamala Harris is enjoying a very Biden-like vice presidency. Like the president, she has ignored the inside-the-Beltway buzz from a D.C. press corps going through a bad case of withdrawal after the never-a-dull-moment train wreck of the Trump years. And, like the man she works alongside, she has kept her head down and done her job.
Few areas reveal her successes and strengths as clearly as how she has handled her broad foreign policy portfolio. While she has not received credit for much of what she has done in this area, she has been undaunted, working with a methodical intensity that has won admirers around the world and among her closest colleagues.
The challenge here is that Biden himself was the subject of much ridicule during his vice presidency. He was seen as the goofy, gaffe-proven older partner to Barack Obama’s polished professional. It was an image that the Obama White House itself promoted.
Arguably, Biden’s current presidency came about due to the confluence of extreme circumstances — a psychopathic president and a devastating global pandemic. Biden delivered voters the normality and empathy they needed most last year. We all hope to God that the nation is never again in this position, even if it could benefit Harris or any other normal Democrat.
Rothkopf rightly shredded that godawful Peggy Noonan op-ed in the Wall Street Journal where Noonan claimed Harris is an attention seeker who focuses more on political appearances than policy. (Manchin more accurately fits that criticism.)
She wrote, “Ms. Harris should set her mind primarily on the deep and profound responsibilities of the job she may have to fill. She should do this as an act of will. Only secondarily should she be thinking about her political prospects.”
That’s exactly what Harris is doing! She’s not sitting around waiting for Biden to keel over. She’s a valued member of his administration. As she told Charlamagne Tha God Friday: "I'm vice president, and my name is Kamala Harris."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."