In National Review, Charles Cooke recently wrote a takedown of her under the headline: “The Democrats Have a Kamala Harris Problem.” The New York Post editorial board panned her commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy, calling it “Naval gazing.” Clever. Also gratuitous — and a sign of how deeply under her opponents’ skin she gets.
Those attacks coincide with the upsizing of the tasks that Biden has assigned her. Having asked her last March to work on stemming migration across the southern border, he identified her on Tuesday as the administration’s lead on voting rights. That’s huge. The issue is a defining one for many Democrats, a top legislative priority for the party and a furiously argued point of contention between them and Republicans.
“It’s going to take a hell of a lot of work,” Biden said when he made the announcement about her newest responsibility in Tulsa, Okla., on Tuesday.
Success is iffy, but acrimony is certain.
“If I was Vice President Harris and President Biden kept giving me the toughest assignments, I’d be like, ‘What’s up, dude?’” David Chalian, CNN’s political director, said on the CNN Political Briefing podcast on Wednesday. “Add this now to her plate with immigration and she’s got some truly tough political battles ahead.”
“She’s now in charge of overseeing the passage of the For the People Act,” Chalian added, referring to the voting-rights bill that passed the House but looks to be doomed in the Senate. “Not even all the Democrats are on board.” Even if she gets them there, they’d need to junk the filibuster and she’d have to cast a tiebreaking vote in order to put the legislation on Biden’s desk. Republicans’ demonization of her would be boundless.
And yet she asked for the voting-rights lead, according to an article in The Times on Thursday by Katie Rogers and Nicholas Fandos. That’s gutsy. It’s also a bold retort to the narrative that she has been tiptoeing through the vice presidency.
“She continues to retreat behind talking points and platitudes in public,” Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote in an assessment of her in The Atlantic last month. He noted that her critics “see her vice presidency so far as a collection of unconnected set pieces. Harris arrives somewhere with the plane and the motorcade and the Secret Service agents, makes a few mostly bland statements, then tells whomever she’s meeting with about how she’s going to bring their stories back to Washington. Then she’s quickly out of sight again.”