Skip to main content

Inside politics

The First Lady puts Harris in the shade

Kamala Harris, left, with Jill Biden. Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The woman with real power in the White House is not Vice President Kamala Harris – it’s First Lady Jill Biden, says Breda O’Brien in the Irish Times. The 70-year-old is passionate about education, and several big policies have her “fingerprints all over them”, including two free years of preschool and community college.

Harris, by contrast, is burdened with two nightmare briefs. One is the immigration crisis: the mess on the Mexican border carries a distinct “ouch factor” for Harris as the first black and first Asian woman to be VP, with two immigrant parents. The other is voting rights, a job she wanted. Yet she has not been able to stop 17 states legislating to make voting harder, often for black constituents.

And don’t forget, these women have history. During the Democratic presidential primaries, Harris, 56, attacked Joe Biden for not being active enough on desegregation – Mrs Biden later said the comments were “like a punch in the gut”. While the First Lady shines, Harris is looking awfully like a presidential “mudguard” these days.

My kitchen cabinet brief

Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

It’s my first week as Health Secretary, and my experience with coronavirus has been “rather more personal than I’d have liked”, says Sajid Javid in The Spectator. But even though I’ve been isolating at home, “joining the Cabinet next to my kitchen cabinet”, it’s great to be back.

My mum was especially delighted with my new job. “Like many Asian mothers she wanted at least one of her five sons to be a doctor and she was thrilled that I would be, as she put it, ‘working in healthcare’ after all these years.” But I’ve had to remember how to do interviews. When I was asked about my favourite tune of lockdown, my advisers vetoed my genuine choice – by a band called Cigarettes After Sex – “at a speed that should qualify them for the Tokyo Olympics”.

Peer pressure 

The House of Lords anti-bullying workshops have reached a “new pinnacle of absurdity”, says Daniel Johnson in The Article. Peers voted by 315 to 86 to ban Lord Kalms and Lord Willoughby de Broke from parliamentary bars, restaurants and libraries for failing to attend “Valuing Everyone” training. Sixty others didn’t turn up – elderly peers such as Betty Boothroyd and Michael Heseltine had health reasons, and David Owen never received his invitation. But this is the first time anyone has been so childishly punished; or, as Lord Cormack put it, “because you didn’t do your prep, you can’t go to the tuck shop”.

Meanwhile “a well-known Speaker of the House of Commons” has escaped sanctions, despite a large body of evidence. It’s “a farce”.

A message to you, Rudy

Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, was such a chaotic presence in the run-up to the 2020 election that the former president’s other advisers lied to him about the time of a crucial meeting, says a new book. “Aides told Guiliani they would be gathering at 2pm, though they were scheduled to start at noon,” write Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker in I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year. Giuliani was duly late for the meeting to prepare Trump for a debate with Joe Biden.

The allegation comes after allegations that the 77-year-old former mayor of New York was frequently drunk and disorganised in important meetings. In his new book, Landslide, Michael Wolff writes that Giuliani often couldn’t work his mobile phone and iPad, was obsessed with Biden’s son Hunter and was constantly fumbling through his papers.