With yesterday’s special counsel report providing independent confirmation that Joe Biden is probably senile, we need to do something very painful that the Biden campaign and our compliant political press don’t want to do: Have a forthright conversation about Kamala Harris.
Last weekend, NBC News put out a poll that set off klaxons among Democrats. Trump is leading Biden by five points in NBC’s poll, and, more generally, the 2024 general election polls thus far show Trump consistently winning. This is a marked reversal from 2020, where the polls showed Biden with a 7-point lead heading into an election he barely edged out an electoral college victory by 40,000 or so votes.
Now, there are a number of obvious reasons why Biden is flailing this time around. The NBC poll notes Trump has a 20-point advantage on the economy, a 30-point advantage on immigration and border security, and a 16-point advantage on “being competent and effective.” (Democrats are probably pretty despondent to consider he’s being walloped on that last metric by President Covfefe.)
But when you look at Biden’s approval rating in the poll, something else jumps out. Biden’s approval rating – 36 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing as president – is absolutely terrible for an incumbent president during an election year. But the NBC poll offers up the approval ratings of all the major candidates, and it turns out Biden doesn’t have the lowest approval rating in the White House. That belongs to Kamala Harris, who is at 28 percent approval, 53 percent disapproval. WOOF.
Now, obviously, given the major issues dragging Biden down, it would hardly seem like Kamala Harris would be the singular thing that sinks Biden, even if her approval rating is comparable to that of venereal disease. However, Biden needs all the help he can get, and given his unique problems, an energetic and engaged vice president would go a long way toward counteracting the negative perception of him.
Obviously, there’s the issue of Biden’s age and cognitive decline. Especially after yesterday’s news, Democrats are not going to get through another election cycle berating reporters that Biden’s confusion is a result of a heroic lifelong struggle to overcome a childhood stutter. Biden is speaking in the present tense about world leaders who died when grunge was still popular, and that’s when he’s capable of speaking at all. Voters can clearly see that mentally, the wheel may be turning, but the hamster is deceased.
As a result, the Biden campaign’s goal is to minimize his public presence during the election, which can only hurt him. They did this to a large extent in 2020, but Covid was a convenient excuse. Now, what’s the reason why Biden is turning down an audience of 20 million people to conduct an interview on Super Bowl Sunday? CNN assures us that turning down such a huge audience is part of a “larger media strategy” where Biden’s advisers “give the already fatigued public a break from politics during the big game.” The reality as we know it is that they simply don’t want to have another viral clip where he’s asked a tough question about Gaza and he responds by nodding off on camera and dribbling cerebral spinal fluid out of the corner of his mouth.
In fact, an AP story from earlier this week, “Biden is going small to try to win big in November. That means stops for boba tea, burgers and beer,” does indeed confirm that the Biden strategy for the coming election is, to the extent he’s going to campaign at all, he’s going to do it in intimate, easily controlled settings. They’re scared to let voters interact with him and see him up close.
Now, given that’s the case, just imagine Biden had an energetic, well-liked vice president out on the trail. Voters could at least tell themselves that if they vote for Biden and we have to confront the all-too-likely possibility Biden goes face down in a bowl of Chunky Monkey in the Oval and never wakes up, at least there’s a commanding presence in the wings waiting to step-up.
Instead, we have Kamala Harris, who seems to defy the laws of political physics by existing in two categories at the same time — she’s both actively disliked by voters and an almost complete nonentity when it comes to exerting any influence on policy or politics. I mean, what has she done of note as vice president? Anything at all? During his first year in office, Biden tasked her with overseeing diplomatic efforts allegedly aimed at stopping the mass influx of illegal immigrants across the southern border. How’s that going? Let’s check the spin at CNN:
Since being tasked with tackling root causes, Harris has only occasionally talked about the effort as the situation along the US-Mexico border became a political vulnerability for Biden. … A senior administration official recognized the attention on the US-Mexico border but maintained that Harris’ work is not intended to solve the immediate issues on the ground there.
In other words, Kamala is trying to distance herself from her own responsibilities on an issue that is now voters’ number one concern. “Not intended to solve the immediate issues on the ground there”? What an awe-inspiring display of leadership.
Then there’s the issue of Kamala herself; Biden’s age-related senility means that his verbal stumbles at least induce some measure of pity along with the embarrassment. Kamala’s furor loquendi, on the other hand, well, what the hell are we supposed to make of the fact that even The New York Times concedes, “the vice president’s critics have not exactly fabricated, ex nihilo, the notion that she chops language into what they call ‘word salads.’” Frankly, that’s a polite read on authentic California self-actualized airhead gibberish such as, “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.”
Then, something must be said about Kamala Harris’ truly bizarre and omnipresent laugh, which is less an expression of amusement and more like a frantic attempt to hide her obvious discomfort. If you think I’m being unfair, apparently, the vice president’s braying is an international incident. Last March, Daily Telegraph columnist Tim Blair went on Australian TV and was asked about her weird propensity to laugh at the drop of a hat.
“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. “Because the laugh kills it anyway; the laugh is the biggest, destructive, negative force probably ever unleashed in American politics. No one’s voting for the laugh.”
In sum, not only has Kamala Harris not accomplished anything meaningful as vice president, but her physical presence seems to cause people to intensely dislike her, even if that’s irrational to some degree. Not only is Kamala Harris incapable of helping push Biden over the finish line, but the smart political move would be to cut the dead weight and add someone to the ticket who is moderately capable and not actively disliked by over half of voters.
And while there’s been a lot of chatter about Dems finding a way to replace Biden — which is intensifying rapidly after yesterday’s revelations — there’s been almost no talk about the Kamala problem. Historically, swapping out a VP on the ticket due to scandal or perceived political advantage has plenty of precedents. But that’s not going to happen here, no matter how helpful it would be, because cementing the narrative that Harris was chosen for her sex and skin color, not her qualifications, is not something a political party that has fully committed to identity politics could get away with.
Given the political headwinds facing Biden, a decent vice presidential candidate who’s able to vigorously campaign could be the difference between Biden’s reelection and Trump: The Revenging. Democrats insist the latter possibility would be the end of American self-governance, but apparently, they don’t believe that, or they would insist at least one person on the Democratic ticket be able to speak an intelligible sentence.
Regardless, the emerging questions about Biden’s mental fitness mean that Kamala Harris is likely going to face a lot of scrutiny that Democrats, and even Harris herself, hoped to avoid. So far, whenever there’s even been a small focus on her role as vice president, voters haven’t liked what they’ve seen.