June 11, 2021


On the latest Editors podcast, I floated the somewhat-tongue-in-cheek theory that Joe Biden has set Kamala Harris up to fail, a passive-aggressive form of revenge for her shivving him in that first Democratic presidential-primary debate.

Back in March, Biden announced Harris would “lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle and the countries that help — are going to need help in stemming the movement of so many folks, stemming the migration to our southern border.” He said Harris was “the most qualified person to do it.” She’s actually probably among the least qualified people in the White House to do it, considering almost everyone on the National Security Council has more hands-on experience in international diplomacy and security, and Biden’s domestic team includes Susan Rice. Heck, even Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra has more hands-on experience with border issues. A month into the administration, the spin was that her staff would coach her up fast, as “Harris comes to the vice president’s job as a neophyte on foreign policy.”

But Harris doesn’t have any tools to immediately “stem the migration to our southern border,” as Biden put it. Either by her choice or his order, she’s focused entirely upon the “root causes” of migration. But even in the best-case scenario, a successful plan to address the “root causes” of migration would take years to implement, maybe even a decade or more. It’s not going to do anything to address the here and now. Thus, Harris is stuck trying to implement changes that might bear fruit by late 2022 or 2023 at the earliest, while each month, new numbers indicate that the problem is getting worse. This would be a tough spot if Harris were a skilled communicator, and as we’ve seen, she’s really surprisingly bad at this.

Notice this strangely blunt assessment from CNN’s Maeve Reston:

The vice president has never been particularly adept when confronted with questions that she doesn’t like or doesn’t want to answer — as she demonstrated during 2020 primaries, when she repeatedly dodged and fumbled questions about her health care plan. In this case, she deflected a straightforward question from NBC’s Lester Holt about why she hasn’t visited the border by laughing it off and stating that she also hasn’t been to Europe, adding that she didn’t understand the point that Holt was making — even though everyone else did.

It was a clumsy answer that came off as tone-deaf given that the situation at the US-Mexico border is one of the most troubling issues facing the administration. Finding a solution for stemming migration from Central America is a problem that has eluded multiple administrations for decades, but even some White House officials — who want her to succeed in this difficult endeavor — were perplexed.

A Politico newsletter quotes “one aide who has been briefing Harris on the Northern Triangle countries put it this way: ‘The narrative and the substance of the work are not always the same thing. We may or may not be able to control the narrative, but we can control what we focus on.’”

What’s striking is that this unnamed Harris adviser has the spectacular combination of boastfulness and obliviousness to insist that the vice president is correct on “the substance of the work” on the day that the number of migrants caught at the border sets a new record again. This is like boasting of your economic performance on the day the stock market crashes, or your national-security record on the day of a terrible terrorist attack. If all Harris is offering in interviews is unconvincing spin, maybe that’s all she’s getting from her staff.

Well, it’s not just unconvincing spin — it’s painful to watch gaffes, as well: Oof: Kamala Harris Hits Univision Anchor With ‘I’m Not Finished.’

Related: Tom Cotton’s Response to Kamala Harris’ Border Failures Should Be the Default for All Republicans:

If “root causes” are what she’s supposed to investigate, she doesn’t need to visit the border or the Northern Triangle after all, says Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), because the root causes are right there in the White House.

“You know, Laura, Kamala Harris didn’t have to go all the way to Guatemala and Mexico to find the root causes of this border crisis because they’re not there,” Cotton told Fox News host Laura Ingraham earlier this week. “The root causes are in the White House.”

He further explained that it “happened on January 20th when Joe Biden took office, and he essentially opened our borders, reversing very effective policies that had our borders under control.”

Cotton also pointed out that even the presidents of Mexico and Guatemala appear to agree, saying “during this trip, [they] said that Joe Biden is largely responsible for his rhetoric on the campaign trail and during the transition, and then his policies during the administration.”

This, Cotton suggested, is “why we’ve had three straight months of record-high illegal immigration at our border. The highest numbers recorded in 20 years.”

What will make it slow down or stop? When (or if) “Joe Biden recognizes the errors of his ways and begins to stop this crisis at the border,” he concluded.

But Biden and President Klain don’t view their border policies as any sort of error:

● Jared Bernstein, member of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors: “One thing we learned in the 1990s was that a surefire way to reconnect the fortunes of working people at all skill levels, immigrant and native-born alike, to the growing economy is to let the job market tighten up. A tight job market pressures employers to boost wage offers to get and keep the workers they need. One equally surefire way to sort-circuit this useful dynamic is to turn on the immigrant spigot every time some group’s wages go up.”

● Former Trump administration senior adviser Stephen Miller: Biden’s Immigration Plan Would “Erase America’s Nationhood.”

“Labour wanted mass immigration to make UK more multicultural, says former adviser. Labour threw open Britain’s borders to mass immigration to help socially engineer a ‘truly multicultural’ country, a former Government adviser has revealed.”

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