Things aren’t going so well in the world of Vice President Kamala Harris. Recent reports suggest that the work environment experienced by staff members leaves much to be desired, and some of them have complained about poor treatment. With Harris being the first in line in the event that President Joe Biden does not finish his entire first term, what can Americans expect from a possible Harris presidency in his stead?
Harris’ Staffers Speak Out
Politico published a report detailing the dysfunction in Harris’ office, and the article paints a rather bleak picture of the vice president’s managerial style. While acknowledging that issues in any organization start at the top, the author notes that “much of the frustration internally is directed at Tina Flournoy, Harris’ chief of staff.”
Flournoy is a well-known member of the Washington intelligentsia. Described by CNBC as “a veteran of the mainstream Democratic establishment,” she served on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign and worked as Joe Lieberman’s traveling chief of staff.
“In interviews, 22 current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials and associates of Harris and Biden described a tense and at times dour office atmosphere. Aides and allies said Flournoy, in an apparent effort to protect Harris, has instead created an insular environment where ideas are ignored or met with harsh dismissals and decisions are dragged out. Often, they said, she refuses to take responsibility for delicate issues and blames staffers for the negative results that ensue.”
One individual familiar with how Harris captains her ship described a work environment characterized by “short fuses” and low morale. “People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” the source explained. “It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated. It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s—.”
The article goes on to indicate that Flournoy tends to be overenthusiastic in her role as gatekeeper, guarding access to Harris in a way that is counterproductive. The authors note that some claimed on social media that “Flournoy’s role as a gatekeeper for Harris was roiling outside allies and big donors who have seen their access to her severely curtailed.”
Politico notes that some members of Harris’ staff have already resigned, less than six months into the job, and that many more are looking for greener pastures.
Harris’ Defenders Speak Out
Naturally, when the criticisms of the vice president’s weaknesses as a manager emerged, her defenders dismissed concerns over those calling her office a toxic work environment. Symone Sanders, chief spokesperson for Harris, slammed the remarks made by members of the staff, claiming that Flournoy has an “open door policy.” She insisted that “Black women like me would not have the opportunity to work in politics without Tina,” and that those criticizing her are “cowards to do this this way.”
Leah Daughtry, a well-known Democratic Party political operative, also defended Flournoy.
“Look, [Tina’s] strong, she’s intelligent, she’s driven, and she expects strong, intelligent, driven people around her,” she said. “But some people may find strong, driven, smart people intimidating, but I think that’s more projection than reality because that’s just not Tina’s intent or style. And nothing in her experience would lead you to think that she’s an intimidating person.”
Should Americans Be Concerned?
While President Joe Biden has said he intends to serve his whole term, one couldn’t be blamed for questioning whether this is realistic. As the chief executive continues to show signs of fatigue and cognitive mishaps, it is not out of the question to speculate that he might resign before his term is up. Were that to happen, Vice President Harris would replace him in the Oval Office.
Should this news be of concern for the nation Harris could, hypothetically, one day lead – or is it mere office drama? A competent chief executive should possess the ability to work with others. To put it simply, any president must understand how to manage his or her administration in a way that promotes effective teamwork. Is the VP up to the challenge?
Read more from Jeff Charles.