Make Kamala Great Again 

An American Bald Eagle looks fierce in front of the Stars & Stripes flag

7 December 2023

Make Kamala Great Again

by J.R. Thomas

That is an ambitious line for a placard.  It assumes that Ms Harris was sort of great before, and there is some evidence of that, but nobody seems to take it seriously.  There was a time when she looked like a contender, a strong contender, for the Democrat nomination for the 2020 Presidential contest.  Certainly Joe Biden thought so. He saw a threat and neutralised it, by making her his Vice Presidential nominee.  And so for four years Kamala has sat within a few footsteps of the Oval Office, and within a heartbeat of the Presidency.

That ought to have been her jumping off point for a run at the Presidential nomination this time.  But something went wrong in 2020, and Ms Harris has never pulled back to those glorious days before summer 2019 when she rose and rose. 

But what did go wrong?  This is genuinely one of the puzzling questions of the Biden years.  Kamala had been a successful Attorney General of California from 2010, re-elected in 2014, and then elected for a federal Senate seat as junior Senator for California in 2017, serving four years.  She was regarded as a tough AG, maybe not entirely flavour of the woke times in California, but her record as a Democrat Senator was impeccable – for healthcare reforms and de-criminalisation of cannabis, against private rights to bear assault arms and the death penalty, for progressive taxation and immigrant’s rapid rights to citizenship.  She raised her public profile by polished and astute attacks on Trump and the Trump administration.  It was all going so well.

She announced early in the 2020 campaign and although that is often a mistake for an outsider (kindly make a note, Governor DeSantis) it did enable her to raise a large amount of donations to fund her initial campaign.  She rose strongly in the polls, and was looking more and more like a winner.  Then, disaster.  Her main threat had been seen as Senate Bernie Sanders who was fighting a gentlemanly battle, until… KEPPOW! In came Joe, who does not fight gentlemanly battles, but fights to win.  He had several natural advantages; strong name recognition, a very long record of public service, most lately as VP to President Obama, great influence over the Democrat party machine, and an ability to play naughtily in the playground but look innocent “Shucks, me? Naaaw!”.  He was able to make Kamala’s record look not so good, especially in her time as Attorney General, and down the polls she slid; the money dried up, and after a bad speech, she withdrew from the contest.  But Joe needed balance to his ticket – “old east coast white stale political machine male needs to meet young(ish) black west coast fresh female”.  Kamala was the perfect balance.  Not only was she strengthening the Biden ticket, she was gaining much political visibility, and putting herself in the perfect place for running for the big office in 2024.  Because by then Joe would be 82 and nobody that age was going to run for a second term, right?

What went wrong?  It is very hard to work that out.  She was hit by Biden’s allegations about her record in California, which has especially hurt her back in her home state.  Her record as VP has been poor, getting off to a bad start with her allocation of the immigration rush over the south-west border as a problem to solve.  Not only did she not seem to know what to do (who does?) but much worse, she did not even visit the border for months.  She had no other particular appointments, and rumours spread that her White House staff mostly actively disliked her – the turnover of her team suggest that this must be at least partially true.

And it has never seemed in the last four years that Joe valued her opinion on anything much.  Maybe he does, and maybe he doesn’t, but it is a typical Biden manoeuvre to haul his potential opponents close and then try to make them look bad.  “An old man in a hurry” was Gladstone of course, but it applies pretty well to Joe Biden, who is not going to do anything to help a potential major opponent in 2024.  Kamala must be realising she is locked in the White House cellar, and is keeping quiet, about the most she can do.  She should be learning fast from Governor Newsom of California, on whose lawns we will park the Shaw Sheet tank in a future edition, but who is playing a weak hand with great skill. Mr Newsom has “no intention of running for the 2024 nomination, no siree, but to show my support for renomination of President Biden I’m making a couple of speeches about the Democrat future and what a splendid old chap the incumbent President is – oh yes, he is amazing – for his age – let’s look forward to his victory in November next year.  Now, if he decides not to run we’d all be terribly sorry, oh yes what a disaster, though maybe it should be mentioned if that did happen, then I, Gavin Newsom, could be available. After all, my California governorship has been such a success.  No, scrub that last sentence.”

But Kamala cannot do that.  She has to sit in the White House and look adoringly at Joe, whilst the rumour mill crunches down further on her reputation and record.  Her public opinion ratings are just about the worst ever for a Vice President (Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon’s Veep, is the all time winner, or rather, loser).  She appears to have no mainstream support for a run and no heavy weight backers.  Nobody is saying to Joe, “why don’t you stand down and let Kamala run, your legacy is safe with her”.  She is trapped, and her only realistic way to the Presidency is that Mr Biden wins and then has to step down a year or too in.  And that he does not replace Kamala as his running mate before next November.

Poor Kamala. Though, remember, she is, after all, not yet 60.  If Donald wins next year, plenty of time to go round again. Or maybe, an early exit by Joe in 2025 is the joker card in her hand. Then we’ll be mighty impressed by her skills.

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