It is not uncommon for political tongues to start wagging in Washington DC, not just within the media but among political operatives of Democrats and Republicans as well not to forget the hacks of various hues.
But what is worrisome this time to Democrats is that the “story” of US Vice-President Kamala Harris will simply not wither away from mainstream attention; it seems to get worse with every possible denial from the White House, including staged appearances of the President and Vice President, however professionally managed they would seem on the outside.
The latest spicy addition to the ongoing saga of Harris is that the Vice President’s Communications Director Ashley Etienne will be leaving sometime next month ostensibly in search of other options. Etienne has been with the campaign of Joseph Biden and a spokeswoman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and she is exiting only days after CNN reported that Harris was being “sidelined” in the administration and that the Vice President’s working relationship with the President had become an “exhausted stalemate”.
In a town where “sources”, especially of the anonymous variety, are easy to come by, word has also been that some of the rumblings within the Harris camp have been that the Biden White House has deliberately dumped some of the toughest issues on the hands of the Vice President just so that she could fumble—immigration, voting rights and abortion are some of the things commonly mentioned.
This apart, sources have also blamed the so-called infighting and factionalism within the Harris camp as some of the contributing factors for the supposed run-ins with the Biden team, all of which are pooh-poohed by Harris and her advisers.
In fact, the Biden folks have gone one step further, attributing all of the talk surrounding the Vice President to racism and sexism. Political analysts at every turn have not failed to point out that conservatives and extremists led by former President Donald Trump have sought consistently to hammer away at Harris, taking potshots at her background, including whipping up the bizarre conspiracy that somehow Harris will plan to ascend to the presidency within months of Biden taking charge.
Now it is not Harris scheming to nudge Biden out of the Oval Office; it is the other way round with the President and his team working on ways to get Harris out of the way and not waiting for campaigning for the presidential election of 2024. In normal circumstances, even if President Biden decides to run again for office, he is under no compulsion to retain Harris as his running mate; but in the current scheme of thought among those who have already figured out the scenario, Biden is perhaps wanting to avoid that unpleasantness, personally and within the party.
The story goes that President Biden may be thinking of “unloading” Harris at this stage itself and bringing in another Vice President. At least one report has it that sections of the media have been alerted to a potential Congressional action on the anvil. The last time this happened was in 1973 when Richard Nixon had a Democratic Congress vote on his new Vice President Gerald Ford after Spiro Agnew resigned on a felony charge. According to Section 2 of the 25th Amendment, in the event of a vacancy, the President can name a Vice President but with permission of Congress.
The hype that is being whipped up in media and conservative circles is that President Biden is not going to just “dump” Harris by the wayside—he could nominate her to be a Justice of the United States Supreme Court, giving the apex court the distinction of having an African American woman.
The fact of the matter is that Harris being in the Supreme Court is not a new thinking at all— at the peak of the political campaign for the 2020 presidential election, it was speculated that Biden, if elected, could think of having Senator Kamala Harris at the apex court.
The problem now for President Biden, if at all he is thinking of easing Harris to the Supreme Court, is two-fold: if Biden is going to do this now, he is fully aware that it is an even tie in the Senate, where Harris has cast the tie-breaking vote a dozen times so far; thus legal and ethical questions will be raised if Harris can cast her tie-breaking vote to get through her own nomination to the Supreme Court. And if the President is going to wait till after the November 2022 mid-term elections and Republicans manage to get control of the Senate, his nomination of Harris to the apex court could be DOA — Dead On Arrival at the Senate floor. President
Biden, after being some four decades in the hallways of Congress, is not naïve about political realities.
Not all of Washington’s chatter – be it in the hallways of the White House or the Naval Observatory – can be brushed aside as gossip or seen as gospel truth. In all the animated discussions over Vice President Kamala Harris, there is no denying the fact that Democrats are in a tizzy and cannot pretend they are for sure going to control Congress after the mid- terms in November 2022.
Seeing the writing on the wall, veterans in the House of Representatives and Senate are making it known slowly that they are not in the fray. Assuming it retains all on hand now, the Grand Old Party needs nine in the House and only one in the Senate to get control of Congress. With President Biden’s popularity, according to a latest poll, at 38 per cent and Vice President Harris’ at 28 per cent, it does indeed give Democrats the chills but also many things to think about!
(The writer was a senior journalist in Washington DC for about 15 years, covering North America and the United Nations)
(The Federal seeks to present views and opinions from all sides of the spectrum. The information, ideas or opinions in the articles are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Federal)