Hillary-Kamala Sismance? Why Asking Clinton's Counsel May Not Have Been Harris' Best Idea
Despite Hillary Clinton's help and support from the Democratic Party's most influential women, Vice President Kamala Harris looks weaker by the day, Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel says, suggesting that Harris might have to encourage a more charismatic Democrat to take her place.
Since arriving in Washington, Vice President Kamala Harris has sought the counsel of Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee, The New York Times reported
on 23 December. According to the newspaper, "the two speak every few months on the phone", while in November, Hillary Clinton visited VP Harris in her West Wing office.
Harris has found herself under growing criticism over her vice presidential performance. The veep's approval rating fell to a miserable 28 percent in November
. She has also faced an exodus of her staff members, who cited a toxic workplace atmosphere earlier this year. At the same time, Kamala's allies complain that she is treated as an afterthought in Biden's White House: on some occasions she was either sidelined in discussions and decision-making or not mentioned in the White House's press releases, according to the NYT.
“There is a double standard; it’s sadly alive and well”, Hillary Clinton told the NYT, commenting on the issue. “A lot of what is being used to judge her, just like it was to judge me, or the women who ran in 2020, or everybody else, is really colored by that”.
27 December 2021, 11:36 GMT
'In Politics Admitting You Have a Problem May be Used Against You'
"In life, the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one", says Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel. "However, in politics, admitting that you have a problem invites unwelcome focus from rivals, from enemies and from the punditry, likely increasing your vulnerability rather than helping your standing".
Ortel believes that if it is true Harris turned to Hillary Clinton for help with her obvious popularity problem, "this is yet another example of bad judgment".
"Hillary is not exactly the first person I think of as being naturally popular nor is her record in providing advice on many topics seen as being good or helpful", he notes. "Finally, who leaked this to the media? Perhaps Harris is that stupid, but I suspect Hillary's team did so".
20 December 2021, 19:13 GMT
One might question Hillary's sincerity in offering assistance to Kamala Harris, given the latest rumours of Clinton's willingness to run again
. In mid-December, American journalist Joe Concha presumed in his op-ed for The Hill that "2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is an interesting prospect to consider when looking for a viable candidate, particularly if an 80-something President Biden decides not to seek a second term". A day earlier, former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on 14 December presumed that Clinton "wants to run for president again" since she "knows the Biden administration is falling apart".
According to Ortel, it's probable that Hillary is seeking to throw her hat in the ring again: "[She] seems obsessed with becoming president, despite having atrocious interpersonal skills and a poor record in management at national level over almost three decades," he says.
He believes, though, that Hillary Clinton should try "queen-making" if she wants to stay in politics. However, Kamala Harris does not seem to be the right pick in this case, according to the analyst.
26 December 2021, 13:49 GMT
'If Harris Were Smart, She Would Encourage Michelle Obama to Replace Her'
It is hardly surprising that Kamala Harris is facing trouble in Biden's White House, according to the Wall Street analyst: "In the first presidential debate, Harris savaged Biden and likely angered Jill Biden in ways that have not been forgiven; as vice president, she has failed at every turn particularly with the southern border that is an obvious and dangerous open set of wounds".
It's unclear who is mentoring Harris for the long term or which power clan she belongs to, Ortel notes.
"Early on, some argued she is an Obama ally", he says, adding that at the same time, Kamala tapped a longtime Bill Clinton aide, Tina Flournoy, as her chief of staff.
8 December 2021, 15:22 GMT
to CNBC, Tina Flournoy has been subjected to criticism by Harris' longtime allies, outside confidants, and donors for blocking them from the veep and thus contributing to Harris' apparent isolation. Flournoy was also blamed for rampant dysfunction in the vice president's office.
However, Bill Clinton shredded these allegations in his 1 July interview with CNBC, insisting that Flournoy had made it easier, not harder, for [him] to advance [his] philanthropic work and [his] post-presidential activities, and keep in touch with [his] friends".
25 December 2021, 12:46 GMT
Meanwhile, in July, a group of the Democratic Party's most influential women met for dinner at a home in Washington, DC "to game out how to defend Vice President Kamala Harris and her chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, against a torrent of bad press", Axios revealed
on 5 August. According to the media outlet, the host was Kiki McLean, a Democratic public affairs expert and former adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Axios reported that McLean's guests included Harris confidant Minyon Moore; two former DNC officials, Donna Brazile and Leah Daughtry; Biden adviser and leader of his outside group, Stephanie Cutter; former Hillary Clinton spokeswomen and Democratic strategists Adrienne Elrod and Karen Finney; and former Obama White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri.
Nevertheless, despite all these efforts and with a thin record of accomplishment, Harris looks weaker by the day, according to Ortel.
The vice president is apparently also suffering from Biden's blunders, especially after the president failed to pass his signature Build Back Better Act this year
and claimed that there is no federal solution for the COVID pandemic
, thus washing his hands of his election promise to stop the coronavirus, the analyst says.
"If Harris were smart she would exit now, perhaps to encourage Michelle Obama to replace her and try to mitigate negative effects in 2022 midterms from an expected Republican tsunami", Ortel concludes.