Bemoaning the coverage afforded to her by the dutiful Fourth Estate, Vice President Kamala Harris allegedly believes that she would be treated far differently if it were not for her immutable characteristics. “Ms. Harris has privately told her allies that the news coverage of her would be different if she were any of her 48 predecessors, all of whom were white and male,” a recent report read. But perhaps the belabored VP needs a wake-up call to reality.
Let’s Talk Competence
Harris has been tasked with a number of high-profile problems since becoming vice president. To date, she has signally failed to make progress in any one of them. Whether that’s dealing with the border crisis or getting the Democrats’ voting rights acts passed, she has not moved the needle at all. Politics is posturing, but power – and more importantly, keeping power – is performance.
When a politician wins an election or is appointed to a role, if they want to keep it, they must perform. One could argue that Kamala Harris has been acting the reluctant VP, happy to have the title and the platform the office provides, and yet unwilling to do the daily work necessary to succeed. Elected lawmakers do not stay in office long if those who backed them – the voters – do not get their money’s worth.
The VP has jumped from crisis to crisis, leaving each situation worse than she found it. She then either laughs off criticism with her trademark cackle or accuses critics of giving her a hard time due to her sex and race.
And yet it is not merely inappropriate answers that have tainted the VP’s reputation, but also incomprehensible ones. Craig Melvin, the host of Today, asked whether it was “time to change course” in light of recent calls from high-profile medical professionals urging the Biden administration to take a longer view of the pandemic. Harris responded:
“It is time for us to do what we have been doing, and that time is every day. Every day, it is time for us to agree that there are things and tools that are available to us to slow this thing down.”
So Women Get Poor Coverage?
Fox News contributor Leslie Marshall argued the VP’s case, saying, “Yes. I do believe that … Women are definitely held to a different standard.” She continued:
“I don’t think it’s whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, though I think it happens whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. So when you have the first woman, and the first woman of color also, who happens to be the vice president, I do think that those things … lead to extra scrutiny.”
But is this analysis correct? It would take a brazen act of blindness to suggest that Democrats are treated as harshly as Republicans. Despite Washington, D.C.’s most prominent newspaper running an article titled “The media treats Biden as badly as — or worse than — Trump. Here’s proof,” the facts on the ground are somewhat different. But what of Harris’ sex and race?
Consider for a moment the failed presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton. She was heralded by the Fourth Estate as the almost certain winner long before voters cast their ballots in 2016. It took four years of media scrambling and diatribes described as introspection to accept the loss. Many in the legacy media still lament her ballot box drubbing.
And as for her race, it is arguable that if it were not for being a woman of color, Harris would not have been on the Biden ticket. The left-leaning press lauds candidates for not being white and celebrates effusively when a candidate of color wins.
So who is it precisely that Harris is complaining about? Who exactly is treating her negatively? It’s not the majority of the American media machine, and it’s not the international press, which hold her in the same high regard as their American counterparts.
Changing Her Tune?
In late December, the second-in-command spoke with Margaret Brennan on CBS’ Face the Nation, who asked whether she was facing “scrutiny” for being a “woman” and a “minority.” Harris responded that she would ”leave that for others to deal with. I have a job to do, and I’m going to get that job done.” So what changed?
Could it be that her polling numbers continue to sink? Or perhaps she is slowly coming to the realization that her own party – despite agreeing with the president that he is merely a transition candidate – may not be willing to put the Democrat machine to work for her candidacy?
A RealClearPolitics average of polls puts Harris 14 points in the negative. It is a precipitous slide from her glory days of just nine months ago when she had a positive rating of plus 20. But if the drop in popularity is solely because she is a woman of color, why then would President Joe Biden be suffering an almost mirror image drop in favorability?
Biden is underwater by 12.7%, just shy of the Harris watermark – a difference that can be explained by folks not wanting to admit they have “Biden Regret Syndrome.” It would also be difficult for voters to acknowledge that they voted for Biden hoping to get Harris – especially as she now appears to be performing so poorly.
Kamala Harris can cast the net of blame as widely as she wishes, but this remains her problem. As Winston Churchill once noted, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” The vice president desires the former without the latter, and despite her protestations, the American public appears to see this conundrum very, very clearly.
~ Read more from Mark Angelides.