In Joe Biden’s shadow, is Kamala Harris struggling as Vice President of the United States?

Kamala Harris’ senior advisor, Symone Sanders, is stepping down, US media reported, adding that “c‘is the second person to leave the office of the Vice-President since the start of her mandateThe implication is clear: there would be problems in the functioning of his team.

Last week, it was CNN that released a long survey titled “Exasperation and dysfunction: Kamala Harris’ frustrating debut as vice president. ” The news channel gives the floor to sources in the White House and highlights the tensions that there would be between Biden’s advisers and those of Harris.

These criticisms have not escaped the eye of Tanguy Struy, professor of international relations at UCLouvain and specialist in the United States. “It looks like it was Biden who took matters into his own hands and gave him supporting roles, which he doesn’t like too much and there would be tension between the two teams.”

Another element highlighted by Tanguy Struye that can be found in the CNN survey: “She would surround herself above all with her family and not with other advisers, which does not facilitate the management of her decision-making team. And it’s something that seems to be repetitive. When she was a senator in California and then a judge, this problem was recurrent. “

At last, “on attacked her on her management of the migration file at the southern border where she had an unfortunate interview that she still drags today. “An attack that some qualify as unjustified, like the correspondent of the newspaper Le Monde, explaining that Joe Biden also inherited the record when he was Obama’s vice president, but no one blamed him for the influx of migrants at the border.

A vice-president finally like the others

So, would Kamala Harris be struggling as Vice President of the United States? “Non“, answer with one voice the two observers that we contacted.”It is quite normal for a vice-president to have a secondary role“, begins Tanguy Struye. “She’s no more in trouble than the other vice-presidents“, adds Serge Jaumain, co-director of Americas, the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of the Americas at ULB.

Our two specialists do not deny that it is less present than a few months ago when Biden put it on the front of the stage. “Many people are a little surprised but it is linked to the very function of the vice-president “, Serge Jaumain analysis.

“She is first of all someone who is there to form a ticket with the president at the time of the election. And then her role depends entirely on the president and the place he gives her.. “And take the example of Mike Pence with Donald Trump.”He was very, very little present. “

Over-mediated and denigrated

But the difference between Kamala Harris and the other VPs is that she’s a diverse woman. “The very first“, as the American media like to point out, but also the Democrats.

For the first time, the United States has a young woman who represents ethnic minorities as vice president while the president is elderly. We immediately thought that she would play a leading role but in the end, she plays the usual role of vice-president, to be there just in case and to respond to the missions entrusted to her by the president “, continues Serge Jaumain.

She was completely over-publicized “, he analyzes. “His every move is watched. “ Latest example: during her last mission in France where she was criticized for a too expensive shopping spree. “It’s horribly sexist “, reacts Serge Jaumain. “It is clear that she is the victim of discrimination on the basis of gender and skin color. Barack Obama was already used to very violent criticism. With Kamala Harris, sexism is added.

“Whether there are malfunctions in his practice is difficult to say but it is quite possible, continues the professor at ULB. But in this case, we are doing a lot more than for the others. We must take a step back. “

Candidate in 2024? This is where she is in trouble

If Kamala Harris was presented as the natural succession of Biden as vice-president, she is today not certain to be the democratic candidate of the next American elections in 2024. And for good reason: Biden appears publicly as a candidate for the future presidential elections. “But it’s not at all certain that he really intends to be. Especially since his age, 82 in 2024, will not work in his favor “, according to Tanguy Struye.

In fact, Biden is forced to run as a candidate for his own succession. “If he said today that he does not represent himself, that would make him a ‘lame duck’ (lame duck in French). He would be seen as weak and would lose credibility in negotiations with the other components of the American politics.“A position that slows down Kamala Harris in her meteoric rise from her position as Senator in California to the White House.

An ascent which, by the way, is also criticized by her detractors who consider her too inexperienced to access the post of president. Success story or lack of experience? Everything is a question of point of view therefore.

In short, the Biden-Harris duo is therefore finally stuck. The vice-president must remain loyal to her president and cannot go further than the missions that her “boss” confers on her. And the president cannot put her too much on the front of the stage by presenting her as a future candidate for fear of losing legitimacy.

It is the midterm elections in any stack one year that will further define the place of each“, concludes Tanguy Struye.”We will then know if the Democrats keep the majority in the House and the Senate. It got off to a bad start. If there is a defeat, then this is where there can be real questioning within the Democratic Party and its vision for 2024. “

TV news 08/11/2020



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