Perhaps the most dangerous place in Washington is between the vice president’s office and the exits. Veep Kamala Harris chief of staff Tina Flournoy is the latest — and probably the most significant — departure from the Democrat whose tenure has been a disaster.
Flournoy served as a bridge between Harris and President Joe Biden’s inner circle in the West Wing. “The Biden team saw Harris’ chief of staff as an indispensable stabilizing influence,” write Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns in their forthcoming book “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future” – which reveals also how hesitant Biden is. was to make the then senator his running mate.
There was definitely a constant rush to jump ship. Harris’ deputy chief of staff, Michael Fuchs, announced he was stepping down earlier this month. Harris’ national security adviser, Nancy McEldowney, left the previous month.
Harris’ communications team has been particularly affected by the turnover. Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh visited the Pentagon in March; senior spokeswoman Symone Sanders left for MSNBC’s Greener Pastures late last year; Communications director Ashley Etienne opted to pursue “other opportunities” in November.
A total of a dozen top Harris aides have fled the vice president’s office since last June. A series of reports described Harris as a “bully” and the “common denominator” of this mass exodus, with a management style deemed “soul destroying”.
But the president will be 80 this year. Despite his intention to run for office in 2024, polls show many Americans, including about a third of Democrats, doubt he will.
So, on paper at least, Harris should be a hot ticket. His office should be a magnet for ambitious people, especially Democrats left out of Biden’s core group of advisers. It’s an opportunity to go downstairs with a potential future president, someone who may have to muster a campaign team or White House staff on the fly as Biden tries to get himself together. to hook.
The problem is, no one sees Harris as an electoral upgrade over Biden — or even a future president. His polls are at least as bad as Biden’s, residing in the same basement where he lives. In the RealClearPolitics poll average, his favor is 11.3 points underwater. His job approval ratings aren’t much better; a recent Trafalgar poll (a Republican company, but an A- rated by FiveThirtyEight) has 63% disapproving of its performance.
His policy portfolio is a shambles. Immigration, one of the first issues she was tasked with handling, is arguably the administration’s greatest disaster. So much so that his team denies that the border itself is really his responsibility, saying they are actually blamed for the “root causes” of the migration. Has she found them yet?
Harris is also the head of the White House “voting rights” campaign. That includes a pair of bills that are stalled in the Senate, the chamber where she is president, and the deciding vote giving Democrats nominal control, including a federal election takeover that may not even have the support of the majority.
The veep is among the administration’s go-to people on COVID-19, the never-ending pandemic that remains an emergency when it’s time to mask commuters but is over when migrants arrive illegally at the border. Harris even tested positive for the virus herself on Tuesday. Workers’ rights are another Harris project, at a time when inflation is swallowing up wage growth.
Harris’ leadership of the National Space Council has been nothing but embarrassing. Her main contribution seems to be a cringe-worthy video in which she talked to kids who turned out to be paid actors in Space Wonders, followed by her practicing the same shtick with adult members of the Space Force. .
“Space is exciting,” Harris said. “It stimulates our imagination and forces us to ask ourselves big questions. Space concerns us all and connects us all.
Teleport me, Scotty! Democrats would be much better off if Harris only took up space in the Biden administration.
Dick Cheney had bad numbers in the polls, but you couldn’t deny that he was effective in advancing his priorities. Biden frequently put his foot in his mouth, but at least as vice president he still had some influence on Capitol Hill.
Since Dan Quayle, there has not been a vice president who has been such an immediate and obvious responsibility on the ticket. But even Quayle had a strong base among social conservatives and protected his boss’ right flank. Both moderates and progressives distrust Harris.
Defenders of Harris often argue that Biden gave him jobs that were too tough. It’s not really an endorsement. She has largely alienated congressional Democrats, swing voters and her own subordinates. Like space, Harris connects us all – in opposition.
W. James Antle III is political editor of the Washington Examiner and author of “Devoring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?”