Let's Face It: Kamala Harris Just Isn't Very Good At This

Posted: Jun 10, 2021 12:45 PM
Let's Face It: Kamala Harris Just Isn't Very Good At This

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The cookies thing was weird.  The Latin America trip was a mess.  Her border visit answer has changed abruptly.  I've said it for a long time, and I'll say it again: There's a reason Kamala Harris didn't even make it to Iowa in the Democratic nominating process, despite a splashy rollout and identity-based momentum.  And that reason is that she's just not good at politics.  She's inauthentic, has bad instincts, lacks gravitas, and rubs many people -- even allies -- the wrong way.  At the conclusion of her first overseas trip, she declared it a success. Literally. One of several cringeworthy moments:

It doesn't seem like many people agree, on either side of the aisle:

Vice President Harris is enduring a difficult first foreign trip as vice president, highlighting the difficulty she faces in her role as the Biden administration’s chief official handling the flow of migrants from Central America. After Harris bluntly told migrants “Don’t come here” in a press conference Monday, she was blasted by progressives in her party and at the same time was targeted by Republicans for not doing enough to help the ongoing problem at the border. And in an NBC News interview on Tuesday, Harris flubbed a response asking if she had plans to visit the border. Even Democrats conceded the trip hadn’t gone as well as it was intended. “She is going to be haunted by this trip and this issue for as long as she is in politics,” said one Democratic strategist, in no uncertain terms. “The border is a thorny issue and she can’t win inside her party and she’ll be targeted for these comments for a long time from Republicans.”

At least the White House has her back, right? Right?  This CNN story has five bylines.  Chatty sources wanted this out there:

Vice President Kamala Harris endured a rocky first foreign trip since taking office, with sources telling CNN her two-day swing through Mexico and Guatemala left some administration officials quietly perplexed about what they perceive as her bumpy answers to questions about whether she will go to the US-Mexico border. Several sources say there was a real hope inside the White House that Harris' first trip abroad would be a success, and worry that what looked like ill-prepared answers to that inevitable question would overshadow it. But officials made clear they didn't view the overall outcome of the trip as driven by a single answer during a TV interview, and the goals of the trip were largely attained. However, they acknowledged it was a sound bite that would likely stick with Harris as she continues to confront the issue at the southern border.

After her truly terrible answer about visiting the Southern border (the "Europe" deflection was painful, replete with the requisite nervous laugh), Harris now seems to be caving to what she and her defenders have been dismissing as a Republican talking point: She's now committing to visiting the border after all, a move she should have made the moment immigration was placed into her portfolio by the president.  She now looks even weaker.  She visited the border for a photo-op as an ambitious Senator and presidential candidate (she called a less severe crisis a "crime against humanity" at the time), then has avoided it like the plague since actually attaining power to handle the crisis.  And after ducking and dodging questions about visiting the border -- trying to convince reporters that it's not really her job all the while -- and giving that honker of a response to Lester Holt, now she's pledging to go down and personally survey the crisis her administration has precipitated.  A master class in ineptitude.   As for Harris' talking point that the US improving the situation on the ground in Mexico and Northern Triangle nations will address the "root problems" of the crisis, it seems as though central American leaders have a better handle on what's really causing this spike than the White House does:

And yes, every Democratic presidential candidate supported healthcare for illegal immigrants during the campaign.  Another point: Even if you grant that it's laudable to try to help other countries improve their situations as to reduce the temptation for their citizens to migrate unlawfully to the United States, the "root cause" approach strikes me as patently unrealistic and quixotic, especially in light of this information:

The number of people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border from countries beyond Mexico and Central America's Northern Triangle — including residents of Haiti, Cuba, Romania and India — has spiked during recent months...Last month, the Border Patrol encountered more than 33,000 people crossing into the U.S. from nations other than Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, according to Department of Homeland Security data. That's up from about 9,000 in January...30% of all family members who crossed the border in April came from these less-typical countries of origin...Border agents have encountered migrants from more than 160 countries in recent months

More than 160 countries.  The US may be able to make a bit of difference at the margins in a handful of countries, but we can't fix the internal problems of other nations.  And we can't address "root causes" all across the globe.  We can protect our own border, defend our own sovereignty, and enforce our own laws -- realms over which the executive branch has immediate and powerful authority.  Everything else is a deflection and a distraction.  I'll leave you with a clip of someone else who can't seem to get out of their own way in communicating with the public: