The first Veep John Adams would be surprised that the 49th Veep is a woman of color. But he wouldn’t be surprised at the predicament Kamala Harris finds herself in. Not only was Adams the first Veep, he was also the first to understand the limitations of the office.
The media and Democratic voters had high hopes for Harris but she finds herself in the same pickle as her predecessors. She’s struggled to find a public role. She’s not the first Veep to have this problem and won’t be the last. Even Veeps who were effective offstage had issues finding their footing onstage. That includes Mondale, Gore, Cheney, and Biden all of whom were major players at the White House.
Kamala Harris’ real problem is the nature of her job. It diminishes everyone who becomes Veep. Lyndon Johnson went from one of the most powerful people in politics to irrelevant and back again when he became president. It’s the nature of the job.
In show biz terms the Veep is an understudy, a stand-in. I mention show biz because some Hollywood Democrats are urging Biden to replace Harris with someone, anyone. The bedwetters may think that replacing Harris is a good idea but I do not.
The perception that Harris is in trouble are down to sexism and the vice presidency, not her own alleged defects. In fact, she has more White House experience than any other elected Democrat. It’s impossible for her to look strong because of the job she holds.
Cue second John Adams quote:
It’s difficult for any Veep to look powerful in public. Dick Cheney strutted about during the first Bush-Cheney term but had his wings clipped in the second term. The same went for Al Gore. Biden and Mondale avoided this fate. The former because of his innate modesty and acute reading of Obama, the latter because Carter needed him on the campaign trail in 1980 while he stayed at the White House during the primaries.
The stupidest idea out there was floated by former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig. He suggested a vice presidential primary in a NYT op-ed. I am not making this up. It’s a totally bonkers idea that would have all the problems of an open race with none of the benefits. It would also make President Biden look weak. A truly dumb idea from a smart man.
Back to the elephant in the room. (Donkey in the room doesn’t cut it.) Joe Biden is old. He’ll be 81 during the 2024 campaign season. I, too, wish he were 10-15 years younger. I’m sure he does too but he’s not. Objectively, he’s earned a second term as well as the right to choose his own running mate.
The good news is that Joe Biden isn’t the panicky sort. Replacing Harris on the ticket would offend the most important part of the Democratic coalition: Black women. They’ve wanted a seat at the table for a longtime and now that they have it, they won’t abandon the trailblazing Veep.
If Kamala Harris becomes president because of her boss’ death, the MSM may not think she’ll rise to the occasion, but I do. Few people thought Harry Truman or Jerry Ford would rise to the occasion when they became accidental presidents, but they did. Kamala Harris is more likely to follow in their footsteps, and those of LBJ and TR, than of the worst accidental president, Andrew Johnson. If Chet Arthur can rise to the occasion, so can Kamala Harris.
The last word goes to Jermaine Jackson: