Evaluating Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris is a heartbeat away from the presidency. Yet I feel like I don’t have a lot of information about her to evaluate her performance or her potential.

I know she has served California both as its attorney general and as a US senator. She was reportedly tough on crime as attorney general. She ran for president in 2020 but didn’t poll too well.

And… that’s all I could tell you about her record.

How do you rate Harris, and what do you base your evaluation on?

One of things forming my opinion are the stories about how she ran her primary campaign in 2019 / 2020. The stories about how her campaign was poorly run and staffers treated poorly are a big part of the reason I don’t want her to be tapped as Biden’s heir apparent for the Democratic nomination, whether in 2024 or 2028.

Her job as Vice President was once famously described as “like a bucket of warm spit.”

So I wouldn’t look for much in the way of “performance” in her current job. It’s largely ceremonial - she occasionally flys somewhere and gives a speech. Any value she’s adding is with advice to the president in meetings, which is going to be behind the scenes.

As attributed to John Nance Garner although what he actually said was “not worth a bucket of warm piss”.


I thought she rose to the challenge of presenting herself well during the presidential campaign when it was Trump/Pence v. Biden/Harris. As a POC and a woman, she had to toe an extremely fine line between seeming too weak and being perceived as bossy/shrill. She walked that tightrope well.

But, while that shows that she can hold herself together under extreme pressure, which is certainly very important, it’s not enough on its own. Can she manage, delegate, juggle 9 million key issues at the same time, absorb new information quickly, read people and respond accordingly, and all the other skills that a leader should have? I dunno.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’d happily vote for her over anyone with an R after their name. But yeah, she has not been very visible as VP, which strikes me as a missed opportunity to build support for the future. I know VPs are never in the limelight (unless it’s Spiro Agnew being an ass) but I’d have more confidence in her if her team had found some way around that early on.

I have the impression that her current office is run in a similar manner based on the number of people who have left her team while she has been in office and stories like these:

It’s interesting that Trump has none of these skills, but still has a loyal base. :flushed:

Rs take the tack where Ds gibe. You have better success on the R side by not exhibiting competence. Saint Ronnie was an affable cipher. Bush I was a skillful doofus. W was a buffoon. Individual-ONE was a TFM. Compare that to Dole, McCain, Romney, decent-ish, capable men with at least half a lick of empathy. Ds have to be good to get elected – it appears that the total opposite is true of Rs, the last competent one having been driven from office by his own CREEPy foolishness.

IMHO any D female politician suffers from the Ginger Rogers fate - she has to do whatever a male does (Astaire) but do it backwards wearing high heels. He gets the glory, and she is remembered as “his partner”.

The bar for positive reviews is much higher than for an equally experienced male in every case. It is too easy to fall into the lazy narrative of, “I dunno, she just doesn’t measure up, yah?” (Paging H Clinton.)

All of that said, there are legitimate critiques to be discussed, as with anyone. But it is important to hack through the weeds of bias to arrive there.

Ms Clinton’s issues had almost nothing to do with her “not measuring up”. The White-wing was well-practiced at attacking her, the true Left was very much not enthralled with her, and her arrogance/entitlement was off-putting. She won the popular vote only because the alternative was so unimaginably bad, but no one ever really thought she was not capable (and, compared to the result, no one currently thinks that).

A valid point. Still, consider her predecessors who served in that office in living memory. They were not exactly enigmas, were they?

There are only 6 VPs who ever got elected POTUS and 2 of them were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Historically, that office doesn’t exactly have the best track record for anybody who wants to be President someday.

But… why leave out the VPs who took over due to the death of a president?

That office has a great track record for someone who wants to be President. Fifteen presidents had previously served as VP. Only Governors have a higher record at 17, and there’s obviously some overlap between the two.

By election, it’s not great - there’s only 6 as I stated.

But in general, it’s not bad. Of those 15, 6 were elected, 8 were due to the death of the President (half by assassination), and we all know about Gerald Ford.

Small sample size, but it seems getting elected is more likely than succession by dint of death by natural causes.

That he was uncoordinated when climbing stairs?


Fair enough. And historically were in a bit of a drought for VPs ascending on the death or resignation of his predecessor — only the period from Washington to WHH went longer without a VP ascending.

When I think back to recent VP’s, I’m actually surprised to note that they were frequently viewed as bland, milquetoast, or lightweights (I.e. Quayle, Gore, and Pence). President’s usually command the spotlight, and it’s the VP’s job to not get in their way or appear to usurp their influence.

Even when I think of the exception - Dick Cheney was often considered to be secretly in charge of the W administration - it was always explicit that he would never run for President and had no interest in that role.

VP may be a stepping stone to the presidency, but while in that office it is not a time to shine. I think that you will find that, in history, a VP term is only really notable if it’s scandalous.

I try to be aware of this particular bias. Personally, I think this doesn’t play a role in my thinking. I’m a big fan of Stacey Abrams. Even though I disagree with some of their positions, I think that Ilhan Omar, AOC, and Ayanna Pressley (The Squad) also do good jobs as politicians. I can think of many other Democratic women over the years that I’ve been a fan of, including Ann Richards, Mallory McMorrow, and although she hasn’t run for office and probably won’t ever run for office, Michelle Obama.

You also have to take into account that some of those VPs were chosen due to their status as elder statesmen. People like Dick Cheney, Alben Barkely (Truman’s VP), and Nelson Rockefeller (by Ford’s era his days of running for POTUS were past him), of whom it was well known at the time they were selected that they didn’t have any further personal political ambition.

ETA: There were also those who resigned or weren’t included on the ticket for a POTUS who was re-elected, like Spiro Agnew, which would also obviously be a career killer.

And remember that the reason Teddy Roosevelt became president was because he was Vice President when William McKinley was assassinated, and the reason Teddy Roosevelt became Vice President was because he was a reformer, and had aspirations of becoming governor of New York, and in response the party bosses figured they’d send him off to an office which had no real power or importance instead.