Joe Biden vs Kamala Harris: Trouble in paradise as White House rocked by infighting
All is apparently not well between Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden. A new report says that both teams are extremely unhappy with each other, amidst collapsing ratings and an increasing number of gaffes and controversies. While publicly the White House insists relationships between the two are "cordial" and "productive", it seems internally, things are far from good.
Both Biden and Harris have seen their approval ratings slump in recent months, accelerated by their controversial public gaffes. In early November, Harris was mocked for adopting a French accent during her visit to the Institut Pasteur science lab in Paris. In late August, she was condemned for laughing in response to a question about Americans still stranded in Afghanistan. She also drew a lot of attention for seemingly indicating she was "overworked" by Biden in an interview, asking, "Can one person do all that realistically?"
That interview was one of the few times the strained relationship between the two has come to the public eye. Now, we have more information on the chaos at the top level of government, thanks to CNN. The organization spoke to several insiders, to paint a picture of chaos, dysfunction, and resentment that could severely damage the Democrats' chances in the mid-terms, as well as in 2024.
Harris being sent out for 'losing issues'
The frustration in camp Harris appears to be stemming from the issues she's been tasked with. "They're consistently sending her out there on losing issues in the wrong situations for her skill set," one former aide said. To make matters worse, it appears as if the President is sidelining her. Reportedly, Biden's aides were worried her historic status as the first woman VP was overshadowing the President, so she's begun to appear less by his side in public.
But in private too, the VP is playing an extremely reduced role. "While she had attended some meetings Biden hosted with key lawmakers, there were many more that she didn't attend - to the point that it was noteworthy that she made an unscheduled drop-by one session in the final stretch," CNN reported. She's also reportedly told several confidants that she's "constrained" about what she is able to do.
Another cause of frustration appears to be the perceived lack of support from the West Wing. Despite several public controversies, Biden has never backed Harris either in statements or on social media. In contrast, Jen Psaki offered a very strong rebuke when transport secretary Pete Buttigieg was mocked by Tucker Carlson. "It's hard to miss the specific energy that the White House brings to defend a white man, knowing that Kamala Harris has spent almost a year taking a lot of the hits that the West Wing didn't want to take themselves," one aide said.
Crises leave VP's office in tatters
Adding to the woes, Harris is also facing a major staffing issue. Reportedly, numerous aides are looking to leave as things get worse, with replacements hard to come by. Harris' chief of staff, Tina Flournoy told Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, over the summer that the office was "drowning" and needed help, but it wasn't forthcoming. Reportedly, Klain told Flournoy "to get creative" with their allocated funding.
It's not just the collapse of the VP's public perception, but her own behavior that has led to this situation. Reportedly, the VP is freezing out her advisors in favor of advice from her sister Meena Harris, brother-in-law Tony West and niece Meena Harris. That's left aides worrying they could be doing more harm than good, especially painful given that the West Wing isn't rushing in to help. Reportedly, Biden's team is frustrated that Harris has created her own gaffes, and "stumbled needlessly" into controversy.
A future in doubt
It's possible her lack of experience could have something to do with the issues, but Harris' aides say Biden's behavior is setting her up to fail. That could prove costly for the Democrats, with not just the 2022 mid-terms on the line, but also the 2024 Presidential Election. Biden will be 84 by that time, and it's highly unlikely he'll run for reelection (despite his insistence he would), which would mean Harris is automatically the leading contender for POTUS.
But, amidst the plummeting numbers and increasing controversies, it's clear the party isn't very optimistic about Harris' future. That's led others to quietly begin the groundwork for campaigns. "Kamala Harris is a leader but is not being put in positions to lead. That doesn't make sense. We need to be thinking long term, and we need to be doing what's best for the party," one donor for the Dems said. To make matters worse, Harris' aides believe that handing her "no-win" issues like the border crisis have only further constrained her future.
The uncertainty is not looking good for the Dems, who are already appearing quite divided over Biden's domestic agenda. Failure to rally around a single candidate could prove extremely harmful, with Donald Trump expected to attempt another run in 2024.