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Is she right there whenever Biden faces the cameras in case he keels over? Or is this some attempt to add presidential “gravitas” to a problematic choice for the ticket, so lacking in appeal that she dropped out of the presidential field before the Iowa caucuses? Or, are we being prepared for Harris to assume the presidency sooner than anyone expected? Whatever the motives, Joe Biden’s handlers seem to have decided that they need to double-team presidential public events when the cameras start rolling. Amie Parnes reports in The Hill:
When President Biden has delivered remarks or held photo ops during the first two weeks of his administration, Vice President Harris has been a consistent presence, always in the room if not right by his side.
The White House has painted a deliberate picture of a president and vice president in lockstep together.
When Biden has signed executive orders, spoken about the coronavirus pandemic or met with GOP senators on a relief package, Harris has been in the picture.
Parnes quotes anonymous sources who claim that Kamala adds value, that she’s a member of the team, that Biden understands well the value of a VP (standing there, doing noting as he speaks or signs), finally, with a named source:
“The White House is clearly communicating the president values the VP and she is more of a deputy president than a leader with a discrete portfolio,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.
Then, there are identity politics race-mongering implications that are cited as important:
The 78-year-old president is a white man…. (snip)
Katherine Jellison, a professor of history at Ohio University and a scholar of women’s studies, said it also signals “how much President Biden recognizes the key role Black women played in getting him to the White House.” (snip)
The vice president has also been signaling that she could serve as the administration’s voice in speaking directly to minority communities about getting the COVID-19 vaccination.
But I wonder if it really adds luster to Harris to show up, masked, with nothing better to do than just stand there?
Of course, when she went out on her own and gave interviews to a TV stations in West Virginia and Arizona, it became a big mess, so keeping her tethered to Biden in public with her mouth covered up may be simply gaffe-protection.
Clearly, the Biden-Harris (or Harris-Biden) administration (as Joe has called it) is a team like no other in the history of the presidency.