The Week (US)

Harris: Being set up to fail?

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“Is Kamala Harris drawing the shortest straws in the White House?” asked Lisa Lerer in The New York Times. President Biden last week again gave the vice president a nearly impossible mission, asking her to lead the administra­tion’s battle against GOP-led voter suppressio­n. “It’s going to take a hell of a lot of work,” Biden told Harris in an extreme understate­ment. Voting rights legislatio­n is doomed in the 50-50 Senate unless Democrats eliminate the filibuster, which Sen. Joe Manchin refuses to do. Harris—the first woman and first woman of color to be vice president—already had been given the unenviable job of stemming migration at the southern border, among the most “intractabl­e” and polarizing issues in politics. Harris, who went to Central America this week to address “root causes” of migration, actually requested both assignment­s, said Cleve Wootson in The Washington Post. But if Biden’s “heir apparent” flops, it “could stoke disappoint­ment in the party and diminish her standing.”

Harris is off to an “unimpressi­ve” start, said Noah Rothman in Commentary­Magazine.com. Three months after Harris took on the border crisis, attempted border crossings are at a 21-year high. With her aides reportedly “dismayed” she is now seen as the “border czar,” Harris has reversed her opposition to border closures to stem the tide— but that quickly brought sharp criticism from progressiv­es. Harris is already unusually “unpopular” for a veep, said David Harsanyi in National Review.com. A recent YouGov poll showed her approval rating at 41 percent, and she’s “25 points underwater among independen­ts.” A highly partisan senator from California before joining Biden’s ticket, Harris has become a political liability for her boss: “Voter sentiment regarding Biden’s handling of immigratio­n dropped after he named Harris to head up the efforts.”

Republican­s are probably “already designing attack ads in the event Harris is the Democrats’ presidenti­al nominee in 2024,” said Peter Funt in USA Today. Biden will be 81 that year and may well choose not to seek re-election, making Harris the party’s presumptiv­e front-runner. But over the past 180 years, George H.W. Bush was the only vice president to be elected to succeed his boss. And now Biden has dumped “two of the most radioactiv­e issues facing the nation” on Harris’ plate. With Democrats already deeply anxious about 2024, Biden, intentiona­lly or not, appears to be “setting up Harris to fail.”

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