Froma Harrop: Are Democrats worried about Kamala Harris?

From the commentary: (Kamala Harris) has the brains and the chops to be a real asset to the ticket and the party.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks at the annual Freedman's Bank Forum at the Treasury Department in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2022.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks at the annual Freedman's Bank Forum at the Treasury Department in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2022.
Michael McCoy/REUTERS

According to The Washington Post, the official watercooler of the chattering class, "some" Democrats are worried about Vice President Kamala Harris after her first two years in office. She hasn't, according to the various prominent insiders being quoted anonymously (lest she recover, of course) stepped up sufficiently, as the second-in-command should.

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Of course, most Democrats don't have the luxury of worrying about the vice president, living in the crazy world we do, or the interest in it, but put that aside. These are the big-shot insiders who are capital D Democrats and worry about such things, while the rest of us content ourselves with worries about the economy and crazy Putin and climate change and gun violence and everything else.

There are legitimate concerns. There has been far more turnover in the staff of the vice president's office than in the president's team, and talk of disarray has spread widely enough than even I — 3,000 miles away from the water cooler — have heard whispers. And not always quiet ones; pretty noisy, truth be told.

It's not clear how much of this is the usual political gossip and how much, if any, is racist and sexist. First woman, first Black, first Asian, bound to be noise. Is it just noise, or is it more than that?

The vice presidency is inherently an amorphous sort of job, an invitation to obscurity (and a lot of funerals), obsolescence and jokes about whether the president has called yet (the punch line on "Veep" episodes). Even so, the treatment of Harris has been especially vicious: she's been mocked as "utterly incapable" and lacking "basic political skills." Then again, there was Dan Quayle. Did he deserve it?


Unlike some of her predecessors, Harris didn't come into the office with a natural portfolio — not like Al Gore with the environment or Dick Cheney with national security — and assigning her immigration was only giving her the most insoluble problem in the domestic agenda.

She had a good start; she captured the country's attention at the inauguration. But after that bright start, it's hard to capture her two years, or describe it in any meaningful way, and that is a problem.

Harris still has time, plenty of time, to find her way. And she is doing just that. At last week's funeral of Tyre Nichols, the vice president was magnificent, at her best. She led a standing ovation for the parents of the young man whose death could have, but did not, lead to a night of riots. She gave voice to the national need for police reform and healing, and she did so with the unique power that came from her unique position. It mattered that she was there.

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Harris deserves a chance. She has been judged harshly by insiders. She has been mercilessly mocked, her political skills called into question. It is ludicrous to think that she could have come this far if she was half as unskilled as her critics claim. It is ridiculous to think that she could be elected to the Senate from California with no political skills. She needs a chance, and the support, to shine. She has the brains and the chops to be a real asset to the ticket and the party. The Democrats who are worried about the vice president, including the ones in the White House, would do well to stop worrying and instead focus on figuring out how to support and use her better, as they are finally starting to do.

Froma Harrop is an American writer and author. She can be reached at or on Twitter @FromaHarrop.

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