Three days ago, there was a New York Times opinion piece defending Kamala Harris and the job she was doing. Two days ago, there was a hit piece on her office management skills and her general unpreparedness from POLITICO. I covered both because it looked like something was shaping up behind the scenes.
Right now, Joe Biden doesn't know if he is running for re-election in 2024. In March, he did say he expects to run, but his public appearances aren't getting any better, and there is still a lot of whispering going on behind the scenes as to whether or not he will actually be able to.
Harris really wants to run for President in 2024, but she can't make a move until Biden decides not to run, if he makes that decision. That keeps her from being able to build a campaign team and getting in contact with donors and allies. But, Biden is still in the game as of now, and that is keeping her from being able to make any moves.
Now, there's a lot of speculation in what I am about to write, but what I mentioned earlier about something shaping up? These stories seem to point to a struggle in the White House over the future of the Biden administration. What is really bad for the Democrats here is that this debate is taking place just six months into the man's first term.
Biden is in a pretty weak position right now. He isn't really the commander of his own agenda. It's been hijacked by younger, far more progressive voices and while some of the old hands on his team might be trying to temper that, they aren't really succeeding. The Democratic Party as a whole is in thrall to the loudest voices on social media and the same holds true for the Biden administration. There are those who want to try and moderate the party and play the long game (Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, etc.), but they are being drowned out and openly attacked by members of their own party.
This is where the conflict comes in. I'm starting to think Biden loyalists, many of whom are those older, more moderate/slow-walking progressives, are still extremely upset with Harris over her attacks on Biden during the presidential primary debates. And while I won't go as far as to agree with the Times opinion piece that every task she's being given is a trap, I do think that perhaps some of those on the Biden team who still hold a grudge aren't giving her the full support she needs.
Likewise, it seems pretty clear from the POLITICO piece that not only is she running her office poorly (or not running it at all), she has a history of doing that with most of the offices she's led. There is a clear pattern of neglect that makes it likely she's far more interested in titles than jobs.
Despite her treatment of Biden in the primaries, Harris was not the worst choice Biden could have made. What the Biden team needed was someone who was a woman of color and someone who had publically been known to go after her opponents like a prosecutor. The campaign strategy was to make the case more against Trump than for Biden. Harris was believed to be that person, and I wrote months before she was picked that it was likely going to be her and for that reason.
The problem is Harris has absolutely no charisma and no ability to connect with a national audience. She has benefitted from political favors and kept getting higher and higher office, but once she became a national figure, she collapsed. She couldn't find a message she wouldn't adopt if Twitter was for it. She could not paper over the fact that she was a prosecutor with a terrible record of going after black men and mothers. She could not connect with the voters in any real way.
That leads me to this conflict between Biden's office (which will be greatly weakened if Harris doesn't shape up) and Harris' office (which wants Biden's torch handed over to her). This is where the pure speculation comes in, and I won't even begin to declare that this is absolutely the case whatsoever, but I don't think it's Biden himself who is in conflict with Harris. I think it's someone from the inner-inner circle.
It could very well be Dr. Jill Biden.
She has very publicly taken the reins in several instances. She is going to the Olympics to represent American leadership. She has protected her husband from media questions. She has been very publicly by his side since he took office. Harris has been largely invisible, save an embarrassing interview with Lester Holt and an even more embarrassing trip to the border. She has no good press coverage right now because she is either hiding on the sidelines or because she's being sidelined by the Biden administration. Either way, it isn't a good look. So, what does Biden's wife stand to gain here?
Dr. Jill could be making a play not unlike Hillary Clinton, except with way more charisma. During the presidency of Bill Clinton, Hillary's team was openly vying to be more influential than Al Gore, and at times was successful. She had a huge influence on her husband's political career (it is rumored that she was responsible for having Bill's entire political team in Arkansas fired and replaced with her own people ahead of his presidential campaign). Dr. Jill certainly does not come across as nakedly ambitious as Hillary did, but she is younger, sharper, and very energetic in this administration, and it's not impossible to see the chance of becoming the first female President blind someone with ambition.
Again, pure speculation here, but the POLITICO story does not happen by accident. Someone is leaking this. If it's not Jill, it's someone who is close to Biden and who wants to protect him while also using it as a springboard for their own agenda. Whoever it is, this is probably just the opening salvo.