October 06, 2021

Kamala Harris was supposed to be the "co-president" or the "real" president. She was supposed to be pulling the strings of the 78-year old actual president and she was supposed to be the heir apparent in 2024.

That's proving to be a bunch of nonsense.

What is a certainty is that Harris is on a trajectory to be ranked right down there with Dan Quayle among inconsequential contemporary vice-presidents. She is essentially missing-in-action, albeit involuntarily. It's no longer the Biden-Harris administration. It's more like the Biden-Blinken-Austin-Rice-Pelosi-Schumer administration.

And what is also a certainty is that Harris is not certain to be elected president in 2024. A recent L.A. Times poll put her approve/ disapprove at 42/51. She is, however, more popular than Biden, who has mumbled that he plans to run again. The year 2024 will be a referendum on his performance, and Harris would carry his baggage. A Republican, even Trump, is well-positioned to win.

Harris has been shelved for now. It seems she no longer stands behind the president at press conferences or addresses. She was nowhere to be seen at the Capitol during the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 frenzied intra-party House negotiations on the Build Back Better and infrastructure bills. She was seen at a Gavin Newsom rally in September. She's supposed to be in New Jersey on Friday.

Her major media blip since the summer was to encourage Americans to shop early for Christmas because of supply chain backups.

This was not supposed to happen. Joe Biden promised to pick an African-American woman for vice president, and Harris was lauded on the left. Biden also promised that he would be a "transitional" figure, a "bridge," he said, to the next generation of "progressives." But then he decided he would be "transformational" and restructure the social and economic order himself. It seems like they had soured on her out of fear of alienating either the Biden left or the Sanders left.

She was appointed unofficial border czar last April, and proclaimed her mission to find and cure the root causes of the surging immigration caravans walking through Mexico, which originated in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. She explained that it was poverty, corruption and crime in those countries that prompted the exodus, and that more U.S. aid was necessary. Latest statistics indicate that there were 1.5 million border encounters thus far in 2021, most catch-and-release, and probably another half-million who got away.

Now we discover that there are another half-million Haitians with refugee status in Columbia, and they are set to trek north through Panama and will be joined by thousands of refugees from the Caribbean and Africa, who fly in.

The Biden administration is beset with a multiplicity of issues. COVID persists, with new variants erupting; the Afghanistan evacuation is a logistical success but a policy failure, say the military brass; and crime - now called "gun violence" - is inexorably rising, especially murders and shootings. Inflation, prompted by massive government borrowing and labor shortages, erodes dollar value. And an open border and unrestrained immigration is more than just a "challenge."
Harris should be out front on some issues, perhaps barnstorming the country to get it vaccinated or touting the Biden legislative agenda. She should be attacking the Republicans and appealing to the base, wrapping-up the 2024 succession. Instead she is out-of-sight. Her problem is a combination of diminished expectations and trust. The far left, the Sanders/ AOC/Squad fringe doesn't trust her because she's not with them. And the mainstream/Biden left doesn't trust her because she's not vociferously defending them. In the past, VPs who wanted to move up needed to vicious, like Richard Nixon. That may now be passŽ, but vacillation and hibernation is not a pathway.
Clearly, the only way Harris becomes president in 2024 is if she becomes president before 2024. Predecessors Mike Pence ran the 2020 COVID response,

ick Cheney essentially ran military, Mid-East and post-9/11 anti-terrorist policy, Al Gore, Mondale and Biden were not invisible and Bush I was prominent under Reagan.

At the nation's founding an Electoral College was created to choose the president, with the second-place finisher the vice-president. That occurred in 1796 and 1800, but political parties arose by 1804 and national tickets surfaced, with the VP picked to provide geographical balance. That tradition persisted for 150 years. It wasn't until the 1950s that VP picks were viewed in the context of successors and not placeholders.

1940: It was a tradition, not a Constitutional edict that presidents serve not more than two terms. Franklin Roosevelt (D) was elected in 1932 and, like a wise politician, didn't groom a successor. VP John Garner (TX) wanted the job, but urban "machine" bosses wanted to win. FDR picked Henry Wallace for VP, a lifelong socialist who became a pro-Stalinist apologist during WWII. FDR in 1944 was age 64, debilitated by both polio and smoking. The end was near. But nobody had been groomed.

Democratic bosses at the 1944 convention, with FDR's passivity, dumped Wallace and picked senator Harry Truman (MO) for VP. FDR died on April 12, 1945, just 38 days into his fourth term. Wallace could have been Bernie Sanders, part I. Wallace ran for president in 1948 as the progressive nominee, and got 3 percent.

1952: WWII general Dwight Eisenhower (R) was a military hero running in an election Republicans couldn't lose. But he was also age 62 and not a partisan firebrand or speechmaker. For VP Republicans chose Nixon, a young (39) California senator, staunch anti-communist and ruthless campaigner - derided as "Tricky Dick." The Left back then hated him as much as they hate Trump now. Eisenhower had two heart attacks, putting Nixon on the precipice. But for his terms (1953-60) Nixon was the face of the party, and certain 1960 nominee.

1960: Massachusetts senator John Kennedy (D) beat Nixon by 112,827 votes, winning IL by just 8,858. JFK chose Texas senator Lyndon Johnson for VP, but that was only because LBJ could deliver Texas. The succession was already determined: Brother Bobby was the U.S. attorney general and his turn was in 1968 and brother Teddy was the MA senator and his turn was in 1976. The Kennedy dynasty would last 24 years, until 1984. And as we all know, a bullet in Dallas in 1963 made LBJ president, and he picked Hubert Humphrey, not RFK for VP in 1964. Bobby then ran for NY senator and won.

1968: Beset with the Vietnam quagmire, race riots and inflation, LBJ quit. The Dem field was Humphrey, Gene McCarthy and belatedly RFK, who was assassinated in June. Martin Luther King had been shot in April, and chaos proliferated. But not among Republicans: Nixon was the one. Wallace was running. Nixon had a secret plan to end the war, he said. While there were riots in Chicago at the Democratic convention (which nominated Humphrey-Muskie), Nixon's convention problem was the VP pick. Who was least unacceptable? That turned out to be Maryland governor Spiro Agnew, palatable to both Strom Thurmond and the party liberals.

Nixon ran a rose garden campaign, saying and doing little, and nursing his lead. It barely worked. Nixon won 43.4 percent, a margin of 511,944 votes. As VP Agnew was a superstar, ripping Democrats as "limousine liberals" and the media as "nattering nabobs of negativism." While Nixon played the statesman, Agnew was the attack dog, the base loved him and the Left reviled him. Agnew was mega-high profile, sort of Trump part I. Agnew was the heir apparent for 1976.

1976: But the in 1973 Agnew got indicted for taking bribes from MD contractors (even while VP) and he was out, and Watergate revealed Nixon's paranoia and alleged crimes and he was out in 1974, replaced by appointed VP Gerald Ford. That shut out liberal contenders like Chuck Percy, Nelson Rockefeller, Howard Baker and Bob Taft Jr., but not conservative California governor Ronald Reagan. Ford barely beat him. Carter-Mondale beat Ford-Dole by just 1,683,247 votes.

1980: After a first-term fiasco, capped by the Iranian hostage crisis, Carter was unelectable. He lost to Reagan-Bush by 8,423,415 votes. VP Walter Mondale's plan was 2 Carter terms and then his 1984 run. He ran anyway, but lost by 16,878,120 votes. His VP pick of a woman brought gender into the equation.

1992: Bill Clinton (age 44) chose Al Gore (44) as his VP and successor. He got 43 percent to beat Bush-Quayle.

2000: Gore didn't run on the Clinton legacy and had 543,877 more votes than Bush-Cheney, but still lost. Cheney was never deemed a successor.

2008: Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and then picked her for Secretary of State. She was the heir apparent, but you know, "the e-mails." VP Biden was never considered for 2016.

2020: It is doubtful that Pence, had Trump won, would have been his successor.

There are two kinds of VPs - the useful and those who are not. To date Harris is in the latter.