A few months back, The Onion, a satirical news outlet, took a stab at the prevailing perception that Vice President Kamala Harris has not been relevant to the Biden administration.
“In an effort to earn a little extra cash ahead of the holiday season, Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters Thursday she had picked up a seasonal job at a D.C.-area Macy’s,” The Onion “reported.” “’Technically, I don’t think I’m supposed to have a second job outside the vice presidency but it’s not like they’re missing me anyway’, said Harris…as she folded a stack of cable knit sweaters. ‘I’d be bored out of my mind if it weren’t for these 15 hours a week at Macy’s.’”
It’s funny because it’s laced with a hard truth.
Kamala Harris has been invisible through the first two years of the Biden administration.
Kamala Harris has disappointed
With the 2024 election approaching, pundits are beginning to take stock of Harris’s performance thus far in office.
More often than not, the analysis has not been flattering.
Last month, for example, The New York Times ran a piece titled ‘Kamala Harris Is Trying to Define Her Vice Presidency. Even Her Allies Are Tired of Waiting.’
“The painful reality for Ms. Harris is that in private conversations over the last few months, dozens of Democrats in the White House, on Capitol Hill and around the nation – including some who helped put her on the party’s 2020 ticket – said she had not risen to the challenge of proving herself as a future leader of the party, much less the country.”
That is the prevailing consensus.
“Most Democrats interviewed…said flatly that they did not think Ms. Harris could win the presidency in 2024. Some said the party’s biggest challenge would be finding a way to sideline her without inflaming key Democratic constituencies that would take offense,” The New York Times reported.
Now that Biden is running in 2024, the concern surrounding Harris has morphed; the question is whether to replace Harris in the vice presidential slot. Harris is of course on the ticket, but questions to remain and talk won’t go away.
Either way – keeping Harris or replacing Harris – has political downside.
Will Biden replace Harris?
If Biden keeps Harris on the ticket, he’ll have a problem. On account of Biden’s advanced age (82 at the time of the 2024 election; 86 at the time of the 2028 election), his vice presidential choice will be scrutinized with uncommon zeal.
Why? Because Biden’s vice president is perhaps the most likely to ever assume the presidency in event that the president’s health deteriorates – or fails entirely.
“Republicans would most likely make Ms. Harris, who is 58, a prime attack line, arguing that a vote for Mr. Biden may in fact be a vote to put her in the Oval Office,” The New York Times reported.
“That will be in my opinion one of the most hard-hitting arguments against Biden,” John Morgan, a Democratic fund-raiser, told The Times. “It doesn’t take a genius to say, ‘Look, with his age, we have to really think about this.’”
Conversely, removing Harris from the ticket is risky too; removing Harris will inevitably lead to charges of racism and sexism – an absurd charge, but one that will resonate with certain, important constituencies.
With respect to Harris, Biden has a difficult decision to make.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.