We reported earlier on the predictably lame and tiresome excuse-making coming from the Biden White House this week regarding the bipartisan criticism Vice President Kamala Harris has received on her lackluster job performance since January, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying “sexism” and “racism” were at the root of most of the criticisms lobbed at Harris.
Psaki’s answer came in the midst of Harris being hit with yet another wave of bad press in recent weeks, including from CNN, which reported on how Biden staffers were allegedly growing increasingly frustrated with Harris. In addition to that have been reports of an alleged rift between President Biden and Harris, which is said to be growing even as the lame excuses for it all are brought forth.
In an update to this story, the shake-ups at Kamala HQ are apparently underway. Multiple news outlets are reporting that Ashley Etienne, the communications director for Harris, resigned today and will be out the door in a month’s time:
“Ashley is a valued member of the Vice President’s team, who has worked tirelessly to advance the goals of this administration,” a White House official told Fox News. “She is leaving the office in December to pursue other opportunities.”
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Etienne, a longtime top adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., served as Pelosi’s communications director twice, sandwiched in between time in the Obama White House.
Vanity Fair reported that when Etienne first took the job she had only planned to work it for a year before moving on to other endeavors. But the timing for her resignation is incredibly intriguing considering Harris’ cratering poll numbers and the numerous reports of infighting in the VP’s office and prior reports from former staffers on how hard Harris allegedly was to work for. Turnover during her failed 2020 presidential campaign reportedly was also very high.
Back in mid-August, Harris brought in crisis communications expert Lorraine Voles, who per Politico once served “as a strategist and adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2006 Senate reelection race and 2008 presidential bid.” A month later, it was clear that not even that was going well.
Obviously, things have not improved one iota since that time, seeming to hit a low point when Harris was seen at a New Jersey bakery a few weeks ago sampling sweet treats alongside Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) at the same time DHS Sec. Mayorkas and other senior members of the administration were holding critical high-level talks with Mexico’s president about the border crisis, of which Harris was made the point person by Biden back in March.
Vanity Fair’s piece quoted a number of former and current Democrat officials, staffers, etc. (some named and some not), most of who latched on to the “unfair” excuse for why things have supposedly been so tough for Harris. This quote among them all stood out to me:
Well, just to keep it real, Harris was chosen to “check off a box” – wokesters on the left were intensely pressuring Biden before he even became the nominee to pick a woman of color, suggesting if he didn’t he was behind the times, not woke enough, would not get enough black support in the general election, etc. If Harris hadn’t been picked, it would have been another woman of color like maybe failed 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams or former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice.
But as far as “it just seems like the White House was unprepared to take on what it means when you have someone step into a position and make history, but particularly as an African American woman and a Southeast Asian,” I’m sorry, but do African-American/Southeast Asian female vice presidents need special handling and instructions beyond what’s typically given to vice presidents? The VP position is pretty much standard fare regardless of who the Oval Office occupant is. They are there to do the President’s bidding, be their wingman, so to speak, as well as their occasional “attack dog” – something former Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden did pretty well for their respective bosses.
That “special treatment,” as it turns out, may be where the problem resides. Harris has shall we say received “special treatment” since the early days of her career as a prosecutor in California and has continued to receive special treatment in other ways ever since, with her biggest defenders including Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) always falling back on the fact that she’s a woman of color as if that’s supposed to be a person’s primary qualification – or a qualification at all – to get ahead in politics.
It’s not, of course, but let’s be crystal clear here. It doesn’t matter that Harris is a woman and it doesn’t matter that she’s a woman of color on top of that. Even if she was a white man Harris would still be very lousy at the job. Period.
Etienne’s resignation from the VP Harris team wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. But it was the first senior resignation Harris has seen since becoming Vice President. If things don’t pick up and morale doesn’t improve, expect more to head for the exits in the coming months because let’s face it, no one wants to be on a sinking vessel, especially when that vessel is in the form of the Harris Pontoon.