Dec 28, 2022 by Barbara Nimri Aziz
How embarrassing. Even if you’re not at home finishing off your turkey dinner; and especially if you’re our triple-minority American vice-president tasked with that impossible job of sorting out the border problem. It’s humiliating. A maliciously conceived Christmas-eve gift of a busload of shivering immigrants shipped north by Texas’ governor was really, really mean. Did our V-P dare peek at the crowd from under dimmed lights? Could she even raise a hand to acknowledge them? Or activate her secure phone line to order second helpings at the capital’s houseless-shelter.
For many months, I’ve wondered where our first American woman vice-president herself was sheltering. Her apparent marginalization during much of her tenure is troubling. She forfeited what she may now feel was a more powerful position as senator from California when in the 2020 she accepted nomination as the sidekick of Joe Biden. Her place on the presidential ticket was expected to produce more Black votes, more South Asian American votes, and more Caribbean American support for the Democrats. If Harris racial credentials really helped Biden win the White House has never been clear. We found ourselves nevertheless well informed about her Indian family, her Jamaican father and her Jewish step-children.
Once installed, cheeks appearing more chiseled, waistline more trim in more elegant pant suits, Harris was poised to make a huge political difference. But the obduracy of Senators Machin and Sinema stole her of the chance to wield power as a tie breaker. While she managed a commendable record breaking the 50-50 senate impasse her role was less profound than hoped by the Democratic Party.
Charged with one of the thorniest of domestic issues, border immigration, and without any clear policy framework, Harris understandably could accomplish little in that burdensome challenge. The issue of voting rights she was tasked to address is a largely state issue, so again she could accomplish nothing. She was hardly visible in the public outcry over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade. On the international front, she’s also largely unseen. Why, I wonder, was Harris and not Pelosi sent to Taiwan in that highly provocative visit to Taiwan. Surely she could have been as noble an agent against China as any American leader.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m on Harris’ side. I welcomed her appointment. Arguably she’s as qualified as any VP in recent history. And she’s made no notable blunder thus far. What does the future hold for her, especially as talk about the Democratic leadership in 2024 is being discussed.
Biden’s weaknesses and his tentativeness are publicly voiced. Yet there’s not a peep about the veep heading the ticket Biden bows out. With four years as vice-president, 4 years in the US Senate and six as California’s attorney general, I’d say Harris is well credentialed. I understand party bosses have to remain mum about this, but the media don’t.