Guest Editorials, Opinion

Kamala Harris must take charge of her own destiny

Visiting France is always perilous for politicians, given how easily populist American buffoons can take potshots at that epicurean nation, still an all-purpose symbol for snobbish elitism. Vice President Kamala Harris found that out to her cost in Paris just before Thanksgiving.

Taking a break from trying to repair troubled relations with France after the Biden administration joined the United Kingdom in a defense pact with Australia, Harris popped into a classy cookware store near the Louvre Museum. Reportedly, she dropped about $600 on a copper serving dish and frying pan.

Quel scandale! Republicans seized on the purchase as evidence that Harris is out of touch with ordinary Americans.

The attack, frankly, was both cheap and absurd for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that you can spend that kind of dough easily on high-end cookware on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. And we don’t recall the GOP Twitter account making all these comparisons with “ordinary Americans” when Melania Trump was out shopping, or Donald Trump was off playing golf, costing taxpayers plenty in Secret Service protection.

Harris is entitled to buy her frying pan with her own money, just as all presidents deserve protection even when they play golf. The real story here is that Republicans smell blood in the water when it comes to Harris, who has been rocking an approval rating barely reaching 40% of late, according to the analytical website FiveThirtyEight.

Defenders of Harris point to stories like the cookware uproar as evidence of sexism, racism or some combination of the two. They also argue that her boss, President Joe Biden, has assigned her to Sisyphean tasks, such as the immigration issue roiling America’s borders.

They have a point, but the harsh reality is that many Americans find Harris unimpressive so far.

At 79, Biden is of an age when legitimate questions are being posed about the viability of a second term and who his successor as the Democratic nominee should be, in the event of his not running. Americans need to feel confident about the woman who could be asked to take over at any moment.

We say her future is in her own hands. As it should be.

Whining about the difficulty of the immigration (or any other) assignment is going nowhere for Team Harris. Vice president is a high office and charging her with finding a solution to that crucial issue is a legitimate decision made by her boss. If she can solve that one, or at least find a path forward that will improve the current disaster, she will be able to bat away the growing interest in her presidential rival Pete Buttigieg, currently gaining  experience as chief of a Department of Transportation flush with federal recovery money and charged with remaking much of America’s infrastructure.

Harris has time to prove herself, but her position as vice president should not be an automatic path to the Democratic nomination. She will need achievements to which she can point, and so far, we don’t see anything major on that list.

This editorial first appeared in Chicago Tribune last Wednesday. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.