Kamala Harris: The big buildup begins
Is it time for Joe Biden to start hiring a food taster?
Seems the buildup is out there for Kamala Harris to become the Democrats' next president.
Take the word of professional bloviator, Tom Friedman, President Obama's past and maybe present golf buddy, who wrote a particularly ridiculous New York Times column, headlined:
Kamala Harris Deserves a More Important Job
In this column, he lays out the proposal that Harris become Biden's rural ambassador, winning back the rural vote for the Democrats, as if she were the perfect fit:
Harris is too smart and energetic to be just the vice president, a position with few official responsibilities. I’d love to see President-elect Joe Biden give her a more important job: his de facto secretary of rural development, in charge of closing the opportunity gap, the connectivity gap, the learning gap, the start-up gap — and the anger and alienation gap — between rural America and the rest of the country.
President Trump feasted off those gaps in our last two presidential elections to dominate Democrats in rural America. Putting Harris in charge of fixing them would be a real statement by the Biden team.
Too smart? This person who couldn't get into a top tier university even with a dad who taught at Stanford? Who flunked the California bar? Who giggled like this when asked if she was a socialist? 'Smart' isn't the word that comes to mind.
Friedman then goes on to propose her for something she is likely to flunk out at even more than mere academics -- making her the Biden rural czar.
Harris, recall, washed out bigtime in Iowa, a state with a significant rural population. She grumbled about moving to and living in Iowa as she pursued votes during the Democrat primaries, but nobody jumped on. Rural voters there read her as a phony and went instead for either Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, or Biden. Fatcat donors weren't impressed either. Harris dropped out of the presidential race shortly after that, failing to win a single delegate. She was viewed as a phony elsewhere, too.
But Friedman thinks she'd be just dandy for winning back rural voters lost by Democrats, whom he notes, a small chunk of are not white. Biden who claims roots in Scranton, could not do it, but Harris, who grew up in Berkeley, California and Canada, and has never lived on a farm, would somehow be perfect.
Friedman says she could start by bringing them broadband, on the logic that her big-name Silicon Valley political donors make her tech-savvy. Writing code, it seems, is something that rubs off, just by taking Silicon Valley money, which certainly explains why Joe Biden thinks coal miners can do it as a fallback after he shut down the mines. Harris knows nothing about tech nor code, her background, in fact, is as a prosecutor, putting small fry in prison for petty marijuana offenses and not letting them out when their terms were done, something that won't wear well among the rural powerless.Harris as the new rural czar? He must be joking.
The bottom line here, if Friedman's not slyly trying to set Harris up for failure, is that he's gotten a flying start in trying to build her up. It's a little early for this,but here we are.
We see this Harris-buildup a lot in various other things, too. The sudden media concern for Harris's rival, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and her failing faculties, a long story in the making, is likely the press doing the bidding of Harris, who no doubt would like some political payback on her fellow senator who refused to support her and condescendingly dismissed her as a parvenu outsider. I blogged about that here. And don't think she's not capable of it -- she planted negative stories on her potential rivals in the press for Biden's veep slot to knock them out, and seems to have known in advance about the Jussie Smollett hoax. Much earlier in her career, she slept her way to the top.
But the signs of a buildup are everywhere in the press, wherever she is found, lots of boring drivel on all her historic 'firsts' but also very specific talk about succession.
Take this CNN puff piece on Harris, claiming that Harris was "studying up" like an earnest student, something she always was not, on the vice presidency of Joe Biden:
That dynamic was clear this week when Harris was asked on ABC what the "definition of success" would be when she looks back on her four years as vice president.
"Joe Biden's success," Harris quickly said.
Beyond loyalty, there will also be another unmistakable dynamic at play between Biden and Harris: succession. Those close to Harris know that almost anything she does over the next four years will be viewed as possible positioning for another presidential bid, a fact that could test her relationship with longtime Biden aides if they perceive she is putting her future aspirations ahead of the current administration.
A key aspect of these concerns is the specter of Biden not running for reelection in 2024, thereby opening up a Democratic free-for-all in the final years of his first term. Biden, looking to avoid becoming a lame duck before he takes office, has said nothing about running for reelection in four years.But by picking Harris, Biden has elevated his onetime rival to a remarkably powerful position should he not run in four years. And aside from his decision to nominate Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary, Biden's Cabinet picks have not elevated any potential competitors to a prospective Harris campaign.Biden loyalists are expected to be defensive of the suggestion that Harris is positioning herself for a run in four years."I think their relationship will be great," said someone who has worked with Harris. "I think it remains to be seen whether top staff will want her to be a top adviser."
Being second-in-command will be a new role for Harris, who ever since she was district attorney of San Francisco in 2004 has been the top person in all offices she's held.
She's getting lots of flattering press of this kind now -- proposals for bigger jobs, slams of rivals, and plans for succession, wrapped in sugar-coated puffery, even though she has yet to have served as vice president for a day. The only thing that can be concluded is that 'it has started' - the press's road to a Kamala presidency. The one consolation about this press buildup now at Joe's expense is that it didn't work in Iowa, and who knows, it might not work in the rest of America. But for sure they are trying -- a buildup for a new Washington starlet is building.