According to a forthcoming book by journalist Franklin Foer titled “The Last Politician,” Vice President Kamala Harris was highly attuned to criticism. This keen awareness of external perception reportedly caused some unease within the corridors of the Biden administration.
Foer mentions that Harris had an uncanny ability to pick up on even the slightest negative chatter about her, whether from within the administration or from media sources. Instead of ignoring such criticisms, she would often seek out the sources of these comments. On one occasion, after coming across a negative article about her team management, she momentarily distanced herself from an aide she believed had spoken to the press.
Foer observes that she often seemed influenced by critiques, making decisions based on general opinion rather than committing to tasks, such as her assignment in Central America.
Although President Biden was respectful towards Harris, Foer highlights that she did not play as pivotal a role in Biden’s administration as Biden did during his vice-presidential tenure under Obama. Biden’s Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, attempted to mentor Harris, having experience with previous vice presidents. However, he found it challenging due to Harris’s self-imposed limitations.
She expressed specific desires for her office, like having a majority female staff and a Black woman in the chief of staff role. These choices, according to Foer, seemed restrictive, making it difficult for Harris to establish herself firmly.
Throughout her term, Harris seemed to be searching for a substantial role, yet appeared hesitant when roles were proposed to her. She expressed a wish to manage relations with Scandinavian countries, seeking a low-profile assignment. When she did show interest in a significant task concerning voting rights, her request was not immediately embraced.
The dynamic between Biden and Harris, as detailed by Foer, seemed distant. Although initially committed to regular meetings, their planned weekly lunches gradually dwindled. Foer suggests that the unfamiliar staff around Harris, combined with Biden’s lack of mentorship, contributed to this growing distance.