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Biden’s “uniquely unpopular” veep

Harris on the campaign trail in 2020. Nic Antaya/Getty

Given the high possibility that 80-year-old Joe Biden won’t make it through a whole second term, says Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal, Americans know a vote for him next year will “really” be a vote for Kamala Harris. This is bad news for Democrats, as the kooky vice president is “uniquely unpopular”. Her extraordinary lack of success seems to come from the fact that she is surrounded by friends and lackeys who believe her “first-ever status” – first woman in the role, first black and Indian American – means she should “remake the position” to reflect her “special significance”. But you can’t effectively change a thing unless you understand it first.

Harris has sought to establish her place as a future president by “showing off her charm and ease”. But after three years in the spotlight, she has instead proved herself “insubstantial” – not seeming to understand issues in any depth; getting lost in discussing them; laughing at strange moments. This was fine during her climb up the Democratic Party, but at the level of the vice presidency it’s not enough. The job isn’t hard – veeps just have to get up every day and give boring speeches, sometimes abroad, while projecting a “grown-up sense that they know they’re the second banana”. You don’t take the job and shape it to your persona; you take your persona and fit it into the job. Biden’s main problem – that he seems too old for four more years in the White House – is “guaranteed to get worse each day”. He should get on with solving his second-biggest problem.