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    Is Kamala Harris Underrated?

    enJuly 05, 2024

    Podcast Summary

    • Harris's communication skillsVP Harris's ability to make a strong case against opponents could be a key factor in her potential presidential bid, despite criticism for her communication skills in broader contexts.

      Vice President Kamala Harris's ability to effectively communicate and make a strong case against her opponents could be a key factor in her potential presidential bid. While she has faced criticism for her communication skills in broader contexts, she has shown strength and confidence when making a direct argument against an opponent. This trait, combined with her background as a prosecutor and her ability to appeal to voters on issues like abortion and crime, could make her a formidable candidate if she decides to run for president. However, her reputation as a poor communicator and her struggles during her tenure as vice president have contributed to her current standing as a political underachiever, despite her meteoric rise in the Democratic Party just a few years ago. Understanding the complexities of Harris's political journey and the reasons behind her reputation requires a closer look at her experiences and the perceptions that have shaped public opinion.

    • Prosecutor ImageKamala Harris's prosecutor background became a liability during her presidential campaign due to the negative sentiment towards law enforcement, hindering her ability to effectively communicate and connect with voters.

      Kamala Harris's political image took a hit during her presidential campaign due to her background as a prosecutor clashing with the national sentiment against law enforcement. Prior to her presidential bid, Harris ran her campaigns for DA and AG in a metric-driven, practical manner, focusing on raising conviction rates and blending in rather than selling her personal story. However, when she entered the Senate and ran for president, her prosecutor image became a liability in the context of the grim sentiment towards police. Her advisors urged her to drop the prosecutor narrative, and she struggled to find her footing in the presidential race. Her communication became reflective of someone she didn't recognize, and she was criticized for being way below replacement level. Her ability to effectively communicate her message and connect with voters was hindered by her resistance to selling herself and her background in a more relatable way.

    • Harris' communication styleVice President Harris' communication style prioritizes representation over personal connection, leading to perceptions of inauthenticity in public settings

      Vice President Kamala Harris' communication style, as observed during a tour of her residence, reflects her desire to appeal to the Democratic Party base by acknowledging their identities, rather than expressing her authentic feelings or opinions. This tour, filled with art by diverse artists, was described as an "identitarian walkthrough," highlighting Harris' inclination to prioritize representation over personal connection. This tendency, rooted in her past as a prosecutor and her attempts to adapt to changing political eras, has led to perceptions of inauthenticity when she speaks publicly. Despite her warmth and charisma in private settings, Harris struggles to convey this side of herself on the campaign trail or in front of large audiences, leading to a noticeable disconnect between her public and private personas.

    • Harris's approach to climate changeDespite criticism for her past record, Harris's background as a lawmaker and personal experiences have shaped her perspective on climate change, advocating for evidence-based policies and practical solutions

      Vice President Kamala Harris's approach to climate change may not be immediately apparent due to her focus on building personal connections and her past record as a prosecutor. During her campaign, she was criticized for her tough-on-crime stance, which contrasts with the current Democratic Party's emphasis on criminal justice reform. However, her background as a lawmaker and her personal experiences have shaped her perspective. In her book "Smart on Crime," she advocates for evidence-based policies and rehabilitation rather than harsh punishments. While she may not be as vocal on climate change as some would like, her record and personal experiences suggest a commitment to finding practical solutions. The media's focus on her performances and past record may overshadow her potential contributions to the issue.

    • VP Harris' Role in Biden AdministrationLack of strategic planning and preparation led to Harris being underutilized and facing criticism in the Biden administration. Her attempts to be a Capitol Hill insider and Biden's whisperer failed due to her short Senate tenure and lack of relational capital. She became the public face on certain issues, but lacked significant responsibilities and promotion from the Biden team.

      The lack of strategic planning and preparation for Kamala Harris' role as Vice President has significantly influenced her profile and effectiveness in the Biden administration. When Harris first joined the administration, there were attempts to frame her as a Capitol Hill insider and Biden's "whisperer," but her short tenure in the Senate and lack of relational capital with lawmakers made this role a failure. Additionally, Biden's discomfort discussing certain issues, such as abortion, left a vacuum for Harris to fill, which she did by becoming the administration's public face on the issue. However, the Biden team did not put much thought into promoting Harris' profile or giving her significant responsibilities, leaving her drifting in the wind and facing criticism for her perceived lack of impact. Ultimately, the dissonance between Biden's public statements about passing the baton to the next generation of Democratic leadership and his private desires to serve a second term contributed to the lack of planning and preparation for Harris' role.

    • Harris' communication challengesVice President Harris faced communication challenges due to lack of strategic assignment and a well-known profile, resulting in a perceived unpreparedness during an interview on immigration, deepening public perception.

      Vice President Kamala Harris faced challenges in making meaningful wins during her tenure due to a lack of strategic assignment and the absence of a built-in profile with the American public. Her interview with Lester Holt regarding immigration was a turning point, as she failed to effectively address anticipated questions and then retreated from public view, deepening the perception of her as unprepared for prime time. The White House's reaction to her interview was puzzlement, as they had anticipated the questions, but the interview's impact was magnified due to Harris' lack of a well-known profile and her subsequent reluctance to engage in public discourse.

    • Harris's Cautious ApproachFear of failure and staff turmoil hindered Harris's public appearances as VP, with the administration failing to support and promote her effectively

      Kamala Harris's cautious approach to public appearances during her tenure as Vice President was driven by a fear of failure and the potential negative impact on the administration. This fear was exacerbated by staff turmoil and chaos in her office, which was attributed to clashing ideas and her inability to assert a clear direction. Despite Joe Biden's intention to act as a bridge to the next generation of Democratic leaders, the party was still divided into factions, with Harris representing a more moderate stance. The West Wing's mixed relationship with Harris's public profile led to a lack of support and promotion from the administration, leaving her aides frustrated and unable to effectively manage the situation.

    • Kamala Harris' Political IdentityInitially seen as a bridge to a more progressive Democratic Party, Harris' political identity was criticized during her campaign and as Vice President, but her performance in debates and campaigns suggests she may have more potential as a candidate than previously thought.

      The selection of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden's running mate in 2020 was a strategic move reflecting the changing political landscape at the time. Initially, Harris was seen as a bridge to a more progressive, anti-racist iteration of the Democratic Party. However, the political climate shifted, and Harris' pick was criticized as a misstep. Harris herself struggled to define her political identity during the campaign and as Vice President, often appearing as a cipher for the administration's policies. Despite initial doubts, Harris' performance in debates and campaigns has shown she may have more potential as a candidate than previously thought. The success or failure of her political future remains to be seen.

    • Harris's potential 2022 campaignIf Biden doesn't run, Harris could be the favorite, but she'll need to establish a new political persona and effectively argue against Trump.

      If Joe Biden decides not to run for president in 2022, Kamala Harris would be the favorite to win the Democratic nomination. However, she would face the challenge of constructing a new political persona beyond being Biden's vice president, especially since she and her team have been focused on presenting the administration's agenda rather than her own. Harris's strength could lie in her ability to effectively prosecute a case against Donald Trump, as much of the Democratic opposition to him revolves around legal issues and questions of legality. Her performance on a debate stage, particularly in her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh, has shown her ability to excite voters. Recommended books include "Southerners" by Marshall Frady for its compelling prose and insightful political reporting, and "The Sheltering Sky" by Paul Bowles for its exploration of existential despair.

    • Travel and ExplorationTravel and exploration can lead to personal growth or heartache, as seen in 'The Age of Innocence', 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter', and 'The Company She Keeps'.

      Travel and exploration can lead to both enlightenment and despair. In "The Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton, the characters' naive perceptions of exotic cultures ultimately lead them to heartache. Meanwhile, in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers, the protagonist's quest for connection and understanding among diverse communities results in profound personal growth. Lastly, in Mary McCarthy's "The Company She Keeps," the protagonist's journey from a Catholic background to New York's intellectual scene ends with a realization of the need for self-exploration and introspection. These novels illustrate the complexities and consequences of cultural exploration and personal growth.

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