Thinking Citizen Blog — The Dual Enigma of Kamala Harris and the Vice Presidency
Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day
Today’s Topic: The Dual Enigma of Kamala Harris and the Vice Presidency
What is Vice President Kamala Harris doing? What should she be doing? What is the best historical precedent? Is President Biden preparing her appropriately for her potential role? Today, excerpts from an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Jeffrey Frank entitled, “Kamala Harris Is Stuck.” Experts please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
WHAT DID PRESIDENT EISENHOWER DO AND WHY?
1. “Years earlier, when Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the Allied forces in World War II, he was distressed over the unpreparedness of Vice President Harry Truman upon President Franklin Roosevelt’s sudden death.”
2 “Now president at 62, a former four-pack-a-day smoker with what would become a serious heart condition, Eisenhower understood the importance of training a vice president for the presidency; Nixon had just six years’ experience as a congressman and senator from California before becoming Eisenhower’s running mate.”
3. “The president had no great liking for Nixon, whom he barely knew, but he gave him a lot to do — including dispatching the vice president and his wife, Pat, on what would become a 68-day trip through Asia and the Middle East. In the fall of 1953, the Nixons visited Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Iran, and Libya — the first of many chances for the vice president to establish personal ties with foreign leaders.”
NB: “It was a deep education in diplomacy and statesmanship that served Nixon well. And the reviews were good: an enthusiastic story in Life magazine said that Nixon had established himself as a “mover and shaker of national and world affairs.”
FAILURE TO LEARN FROM THE PAST — THE CASE OF BIDEN AND HARRIS
1. “Vice President Kamala Harris, who was a first-term senator from California before entering the White House, hasn’t been given the sort of immersive experiences or sustained high-profile tasks that would deepen and broaden her expertise in ways Americans could see and appreciate.”
2. “Over the past 18 months, her on-the-job training in governing has largely involved intractable issues like migration and voting rights where she has not shown demonstrable growth in leadership and hit-or-miss trips overseas like the troubled foray in Central America a year ago and the more successful delegation to meet with the United Arab Emeriates’ new president leading a team that included Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.”
3. “From the outside, there’s little evidence that the Biden White House feels much of the urgency felt by General Eisenhower to enhance the role and preparedness of the person who might inherit the presidency at any moment.”
NB: “No American president has celebrated his 80th birthday while in office, as Biden is set to do on Nov. 20…..Of the 15 vice presidents who became president, eight came to office after the death of a president…”
THE REGULAR BLINKEN-HARRIS LUNCHES THAT NEVER HAPPENED
1. Customarily vice presidents and secretaries of state have met regularly. This was the case with then Vice President Biden and then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as with then Vice President Nixon and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.
2. Harris and Secretary of State Blinken had lunch in February 2021 and, “she reportedly expected them to continue.” They did not.
3. Biden’s treatment of Harris is reminiscent of JFK’s treatment of LBJ. But JFK was a youngster. Biden is not. And LBJ had vastly more experience at the national level than Harris.
LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED THEMATICALLY:
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to political process or campaign strategy or 2020 candidate selection or anything else for that matter.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day or change their thinking. Or to consolidate in your own memory something worth remembering that might otherwise be lost. Or to clarify or deepen your own understanding of something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.