June 30, 2021

INSIDERS TO POLITICO: KAMALA HARRIS’S OFFICE IS DYSFUNCTIONAL, ABUSIVE, “NOT HEALTHY.”

There may be a common reason for poor morale in both operations, though — bad strategy by Harris herself. Read the Times piece to revisit some of her blunders in 2019 during the primary campaign, then reflect on the fact that she’s now been tasked with “solving” one of the most intractable policy quagmires that the United States faces in immigration. Maybe she felt she wasn’t in a position to tell Biden no when he asked her to take charge of the border crisis but she should have probably resisted — if not for her own sake then for the party’s, since she may well end up at the top of the ballot in 2024 and will now have to answer for the administration’s immigration failures. Harris has blundered within the parameters of her portfolio too, though, taking waaaaay too long to visit the border and blowing off Lester Holt’s question about it a few weeks ago. (According to Politico, her own staff were blindsided when she announced her trip to Texas, further evidence of bad communication.)

All of which is to say is that an office is bound to be unhappy when it’s flailing in its mission, a Harris specialty since 2019. Even if [Chief of Staff Tina Flournoy] were more relaxed in managing aides and there had been clearer lines of authority on the campaign, the fact is that staffers would have been stuck scrambling to clean up strategic and rhetorical messes made by their own boss. How is morale supposed to thrive in those circumstances?

As alluded to above, Biden’s weird treatment of Harris, originally touted as his logical successor, is adding to her staff’s pressure, of course. As Jim Geraghty wrote a few weeks ago, “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.”

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