A tongue-tied Kamala Harris has again fallen into oratorical quicksand. It would be humorous if it was not so serious. Harris just said something funny without trying – a habit she is becoming increasingly known for.
To be sure, she didn’t insult anyone or venture into controversial areas such as race, gender, or religion. She just mis-spoke and fell into the bowl of one of her trademark word salads. These are circular statements that lead her down a path of repetition that makes no sense.
What Did She Say Now?
“So I think it’s very important — as you have heard from so many incredible leaders — for us, at every moment in time, and certainly this one, to see the moment in time in which we exist and are present, and to be able to contextualize it, to understand where we exist in the history and in the moment as it relates not only to the past, but the future.”
Her Opponents Doctored That Murky Quote into Something Worse
Republicans, always eager to poke fun at the vice president, took it a step further in a snarky manner. Someone online took that quote and sliced it and diced it to make it appear even worse. In the doctored video Harris said the following statement.
“Today is today. And yesterday was today yesterday. Tomorrow will be today tomorrow. So live today, so the future today will be as the past today as it is tomorrow.”
AP Fact Checkers Step In to Throw Harris a Lifeline
The Associated Press took offense at this dastardly deed and fact checked the video. The left-leaning news wire service determined that the “today is today” quote was not present in her remarks at Howard. So, the AP believes that someone faked her statement and made an even more flavorful word salad. The false video made its rounds on social media in May and the AP provided cover for the vice president to protect her from critics.
But the damage was already done as the conservatives sought to offer up more evidence that the vice president cannot communicate effectively.
The Associated Press has an initiative that serves to fight misinformation and false statements that damage public discourse. This is important, but clearly the Harris misquote was only done for humor and satire. Harris indeed committed one of her word salads, the Internet just took that and ran with it. The Associated Press looks like a scold, killjoy, and tattle tale for ruining a good joke.
What Should She Do Now?
Harris probably needs to pause and think about her speeches that often lead her down a rabbit hole. Is she nervous? Does she have trouble connecting to audiences while trying to sound more authentic? The crowd at Howard clearly loved that she was making an appearance at her alma mater. So, the room was not filled with critics.
Why not just dispense with the speech and talk to the college students in an uplifting manner without prepared remarks? Harris has a bio that is a proven winner. She has enormous goodwill from many Americans who are impressed by her quick rise in politics and obvious talents. But the vice president has seemed to squander her political capital with the problems inherent in her public speaking.
Doctored video or no doctored video, she still often makes no sense during her public addresses. The problem is not a “deep fake,” it is a “deep malady,” and no fact-check can save her from herself. I’ve defended Harris before as someone who can right the ship and sail off into calmer waters. But I am losing my patience as she gets worse with speech after confusing speech. The White House doesn’t seem to mind and allows Harris to “fail upward.”
For example, she was just given the role of point person for the Biden administration’s initiative to monitor advances in artificial intelligence and develop a government response to technology that is changing the world. She just met with a group of tech CEOs and appeared to handle herself well. But this was no speech, this was simply Harris hanging out in a board room. Perhaps small groups are better for her than big crowds. Either way, the word salads need to be curtailed if she is to be taken seriously by voters. Otherwise, she will be fodder for online tricksters and late-night comics with audiences that want to belittle her. This is not a good development for the vice president and fact checkers will not be able to save her if she continues to struggle with basic communication.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.