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Kamala Harris Has One Big Problem: The Way She Laughs?

Kamala Harris
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Some on the right really don’t like Kamala Harris and how she laughs: One Australian commentator, riffing on American politics, this week made it clear that he’s not a fan of the way the vice president laughs:

Kamala Harris and The Laugh

It’s no secret that women in politics are sometimes judged very harshly, especially by their opponents. Not necessarily for their political views, but for the ways they speak, their body language, and their laugh

“I just don’t like her voice,” for instance, has been used to describe political candidates from Hillary Clinton to Kamala Harris to Amy Klobuchar to Elizabeth Warren

Hillary Clinton’s laugh has been the subject of a surprisingly large amount of analysis over the years, with the Washington Free Beacon declaring in 2015 that “Hillary Clinton’s Laugh Is, Objectively Speaking, Grating and Awful.” Donald Trump, during the 2016 campaign, would frequently mock her laugh, even releasing a video that appeared to show the then-candidate laughing over the wreckage of the Benghazi attack. On another occasion, Trump accused Clinton of laughing about a decades-ago rape case. 

Hillary’s laugh was even discussed by her allies. In leaked emails in 2016, one staffer declared that, in her testimony before the Benghazi committee that year, the former secretary of state “sometimes laughs a little too hard at jokes that aren’t that funny. Other than that… “

Why Such An Issue? 

More recently, the laugh-policing has been transferred to Vice President Kamala Harris. 

The topic was discussed this week on, of all places, an Australian talk show. Per Sky News, Daily Telegraph writer Tim Blair described the vice president’s laugh as “the biggest, destructive, negative force probably ever unleashed in American politics.”

“Here’s the thing about Kamala Harris, if she were able somehow if she were a genius who could solve every problem on Earth and bring the Middle East together and solve every energy crisis, it wouldn’t matter,” Blair said on the show. “No one’s voting for the laugh.”

After sharing a story that one of her stepchildren had asked her “why are conservatives bad, mommy because I thought we were supposed to conserve things,” followed by laughter. To be fair to Harris, the crowd laughed along. 

This isn’t the first time Harris’ laugh has been debated. In the summer of 2021, during her first year as vice president, the Los Angeles Times described the vice president’s laugh as “a sound check for a divided country.”

Trump, just as he had with Hillary Clinton, has mocked Harris’ laugh at rallies. The famously charming Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, has described the vice president’s laugh as “distinctively jarring.” At the same time, a host on Newsmax once said that “the queen bee — cackling Kamala — is losing her support among Democrats.”

But some quoted in that Los Angeles Times story defended Harris, against what they consider an unfair double standard. 

“If it weren’t her laugh, it’d be her smile or the way she dressed,” Arisha Hatch, vice president of Color of Change, told the newspaper. “It is just another conversation that demonstrates how difficult it is to be a woman-of-color leader in this country.”

Bakari Sellers, a CNN commentator, called criticism of her laugh “obscene and upsetting — because she’s such a great spirit and that’s what she exudes in her laugh.”

And some fans of the vice president have said that they enjoy her laugh. In fact, compilations of Harris laughing have been put together by both supporters and opponents of the vice president. 

It’s noted in the Times story that Kamala Harris often reacts by laughing when she receives a question from a reporter that she doesn’t like.

But that’s often been a dodge used by all sorts of politicians, Hillary Clinton included. 

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The vice president does not have a high approval rating, she’s frequently the subject of long-reported pieces that don’t make her come across very well, and there are questions about her ability to win a presidential election.

But if she one day fails to become president, it probably won’t be due to her laugh. 

Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. GhostTomahawk

    March 9, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    One big problem???


    Not her speeches.
    Not her ineptitude
    Not her racism

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