Vice President Kamala Harris says she is ready to be the President of the United States. Well, good for her. Because nobody else is ready for her to be president.
The fact that she’s next in line to be her party’s standard bearer is the only reason Democrats seem to rally around the octogenarian President Joe Biden in 2024–who would be 86 if he managed to finish a second term.
An Associated Press poll found 77% of Americans–and 69% of Democrats–think Joe is too old for a second term. The overwhelming majority happens to be right.
Still, polls consistently show Harris would lose to former President Trump in a 2024 matchup, while Biden and Trump are generally even.
Asked last week about being president, Harris told the AP, “Joe Biden is going to be fine, so that is not going to come to fruition.”
“But let us also understand that every vice president — every vice president — understands that when they take the oath they must be very clear about the responsibility they may have to take over the job of being president,” she continued.
She gave the interview while visiting Jakarta, Indonesia, so Kamala seems to be roaring and flexing her presidential muscles with her own pivot to Asia.
A few days later, in response to a similar question, she told CBS News about being ready for the presidency, “Yes, I am, if necessary. But Joe Biden is going to be fine.”
It’s not clear the Biden White House even sees her as ready to be vice president. The new Franklin Foer book about the Biden White House, “The Last Politician” describes Harris as being sidelined from the rest of the administration.
Republican presidential candidates have made her an issue in light of Biden’s age. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said “a vote for Joe Biden is a vote for Kamala Harris.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis contends, “Harris is Biden’s impeachment insurance.”
That strategy doesn’t always work.
Usually, a vice president can’t win or lose an election. George H. W. Bush won 40 states in 1988–despite picking the hapless Dan Quayle as his running mate. Two decades later, John McCain would have lost to Barack Obama even if he hadn’t picked Sarah Palin as his running mate.
This time it’s different. Quayle and Palin seemed at least well-intentioned.
Kamala Harris has the unique combination of being both unlikable almost to a Hillary Clinton level, and not at all qualified to step into the role. If anything, Biden has made the elder Bush and McCain look wise at picking a running mate by comparison.
When an 80-year-old president walking in multiple directions, shaking hands with the air, erratically whispering behind the podium, maybe the vice president actually matters.
She is the reason Biden is seeking a second term.
Recall that when he was running in 2020, Biden strongly implied he planned on being a one-term president.
“Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,” Biden said. “There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.”
He specifically mentioned Harris, then a California senator, New Jersey Gov. Cory Booker and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as future Democratic leaders. Choosing Harris as his vice president was of course a mistake. But he locked himself into choosing a female running mate during the primary contest. Harris had seemingly been vetted by the media while she was a primary presidential candidate, and had the bonus of being a woman of color.
Still, as a presidential candidate, she peaked after the first debate for calling Biden a racist and selling merchandise from it. After the buzz from that waned, her candidacy collapsed in December 2019, before a single vote was cast in a primary or caucus.
As vice president, she was unimpressive to say the least, laughs hysterically at the most awkward times and rarely if ever speaks in complete sentences.
There is some chance Biden really will be a transition figure, and change his mind about running again. But that’s likely contingent on whether Harris would graciously step aside–perhaps with a golden parachute such as a corporate board membership.
Almost no one thinks Kamala Harris could beat Trump–even with all the Trump hatred out there. But if she doesn’t voluntarily bow out, she checks off too many woke boxes for the Democratic Party base to shove aside for the party nomination. So, Democrats are stuck with her—ready or not.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.