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I suspect that regret already is setting in among his handlers over their pick of Kamala Harris for Joe Biden’s running mate. The first of what will be many clean-up efforts began yesterday for her bungling an incident eight days in office.
The White House called Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin after Vice President Kamala Harris conducted interviews with West Virginia media, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation.
The outreach comes after Harris’ apparent move to apply pressure on Manchin frustrated the conservative Democrat, something that he made clear over the weekend.
The pressure V.P. Harris attempted to apply came in the form of an exclusive interview she granted to WSAZ TV in Huntington, W.Va. Curiously, I have been unable to locate a video clip on Rumble or YouTube or Twitter. Even WSAZ’s own website is not making available what has to be one of the most newsworthy broadcast moments in the station’s history.
In the interview, Harris tried to pressure the popular former governor by speaking directly to his own constituents:
On Thursday, Harris promoted the $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan in interviews with television stations in West Virginia and Arizona — states that are home to Democrats whose votes could be critical to passing Covid relief, including Manchin in West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, along with Sen. Mark Kelly, who will face re-election in the state in 2022, in Arizona.
In an interview with WSAZ Thursday, Harris said she and Biden believe it’s important to “work with a sense of urgency” to address the public health and economic crisis. The Vice President touted the package, saying it’s “about opening schools back up in a safe way, it’s about getting support for small businesses, getting relief for families.”
Harris also spoke about the economic situation of the West Virginia coal industry.
“All of those skilled workers who are in the coal industry and transferring those skills to what we need to do in terms of dealing with reclaiming abandoned land mines; what we need to do around plugging leaks from oil and gas wells; and, transferring those important skills to the work that has yet to be done that needs to get done,” she said.
I am fairly certain Harris did not mean what she literally said: that unemployed coal miners ought to hunt for unexploded land mines, one of the most horrifically dangerous occupations imaginable (and a favorite cause of Princess Di). She probably meant reclaiming old coal mines by decontamination and planting of ground cover over the sites where people used to earn a good living. But such is her arrogance that she has not admitted that she misspoke.
Manchin publicly complained (video at the link) on the same West Virginia TV station about not being consulted before being, in essence, shamed before his electorate:
“I saw [the interview], I couldn’t believe it. No one called me [about it],” Manchin said. “We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together.”
Given the 50-50 split of the Senate, the Democrats can’t afford to lose Manchin’s vote on any measure that won’t attract Republican votes. They ought to be flattering and offering boons to him at every opportunity, not shaming him. That, apparently, never occurred to Kamala, her aides, or whatever White House staff (if any) were consulted about the interview.
So, Jen Psaki had to admit yesterday, without even her customary dodge of circling back, that someone — she would not say who — had phoned Senator Manchin about the interview, presumably to make amends. Even CNN, well connected with the Biden White House, could not even get a straight answer:
The source [“a person with knowledge of the conversation”] declined to say what the White House said to Manchin or who from the White House called him, but the call underscores the delicate balancing act President Joe Biden faces as he and Democrats try to hold a narrow Senate majority together to pass a sweeping Covid relief plan — and any other legislation this year.
I am pretty sure that this means that some heavy-duty groveling was involved. Like many people widely mocked outside their home state, West Virginians are a proud bunch and do not react well to strangers looking down their noses at them. Harris, already a wealthy Californian, whose stepdaughter just received a modeling contract that is difficult to justify on aesthetic grounds, personifies status, privilege, and arrogance.
At the time, then-senator Harris was chosen as Biden’s running mate, a female who could claim Black heritage. Demographically, that was almost mandatory, given the role of the Black constituency in putting Biden over the top in the South Carolina primary and its standing as a quarter of the Dems’ voting base. And, if the party were going to go with another white male at the top of the ticket, a female also was virtually mandatory in the veep slot.
But Harris has no subtlety, no finesse. She got her start in politics by sleeping with the (married) most powerful politician in California, and since then, she has risen through the hierarchy of public offices based on identity politics and personal pull in a one-party state.
With Biden’s physical and mental health questionable, she has a good chance to become the first female POTUS without being elected to the office. Cleaning up after her messes then, in the hands of her chosen staff of lackeys, may be costly to all of us, not just to her dignity.