Vice President Kamala Harris is one of the most prominent people in the United States, who at any moment could inherit some of the most fearsome powers on Earth, but no one is supposed to notice.
Republicans are deemed unhealthily fixated on Harris for saying a vote for the increasingly rickety President Joe Biden is a vote to make her president.
“Why are Republicans so obsessed with Harris?” asked a Boston Globe columnist.
Jemele Hill, the former ESPN journalist now with The Atlantic, rapped Nikki Haley in lurid terms for warning of a President Harris: “So part of the reason racism is such a terrible sickness in this country is because politicians like this know they can rally a certain base with the fear of OH MY GOD A BLACK WOMAN MIGHT BE PRESIDENT IF YOU DON’T VOTE FOR ME.”
Hill then connected Haley’s sentiment with racist violence.
It is simply a fact that should Joe Biden win a second term, Kamala Harris has the greatest chance to become president of any sitting vice president since Harry Truman.
The Missourian, who was targeted by Republicans in the 1944 campaign, ascended to the presidency months into Franklin Roosevelt’s fourth term.
There is no reason, thank goodness, to believe Biden’s health is as poor as FDR’s near the end.
With his bouts of rambling near-incoherence, rickety gait and cadaver-like beach physique, though, Biden is not convincing anyone he has a youthful vigor that belies his years.
At a time of deep political division, Biden unites Americans in a common view of his complete unsuitability for a second term.
An Associated Press/NORC poll found that 77% think he’s too old to serve again, including 69% of Democrats.
They are being driven to this conclusion by the unadorned evidence of Biden’s disturbingly uneven performance.
Of course, this is why Kamala Harris looms so large.
Biden thinks should something happen to him, Harris should be his successor.
He has put her in this position as a conscious choice, one of the most important decisions a candidate for president can make.
Why shouldn’t this judgment, and her potential role, be fodder for debate?
It’s not as though Harris is a bystander.
As a New York Times headline had it a couple weeks ago, “Kamala Harris Takes on a Forceful New Role in the 2024 Campaign.”
Anyone who thinks Harris is getting unprecedentedly hostile treatment because she’s a history-making minority woman has clearly never heard of Dan Quayle or Dick Cheney, punching-bag veeps who were very unhistoric white males.
Quayle was relentlessly and unfairly pilloried during George H. W. Bush’s presidency, while Cheney was made out to be the evil genius of the George W. Bush administration.
It’s no wonder that Harris, an off-puttingly poor political performer who is a stereotypical identity-politics-obsessed California progressive, should be a political target.
She has managed to be both undistinguished on the one hand and widely disliked on the other.
In late June, a NBC News poll had her positive rating at 32 and negative rating at 49, clocking in at the lowest ratings for a vice president in the poll’s history.
Usually someone has her kind of rock-bottom numbers after being associated with a deeply unpopular new initiative or a major scandal.
But the only baggage Vice President Harris has is her own political persona.
Her unpopularity itself would in the ordinary course of things make her a focus of the opposition.
That she’s No. 2 to an already-unsteady president who wants people to believe he will serve out his second term until age 86 is even more grist for the mill.
Democrats want to build a defensive ring around the vice president based on accusations of racism and sexism.
It won’t work.
Everyone knows President Harris is a real possibility, and the fact that she’s next in line will be an inevitable part of the 2024 debate.