Vice Presidential Debate: Kamala Harris Labels Trump COVID Response 'Greatest Failure' of any Administration in History

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at the 2020 vice presidential campaign debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 7, 2020. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Well, I’m really tempting fate with this one, aren’t I? Kamala Harris, who is likely to be the vice president of the United States come this January, will enter the 2028 (or perhaps even the 2024) Democratic primary as a, if not the, frontrunner. After all, many thought her one in 2020, and four to eight years as Biden’s No. 2 can’t hurt, right?

Her 2020 presidential campaign imploded before the Iowa caucus, reportedly amid intra-campaign power struggles that crippled its operations and rendered it ineffectual. But truthfully, that’s not why Kamala Harris — “For the People” — ultimately flamed out. It floundered because the candidate was not up to snuff. She wasn’t likable, she wasn’t genuine, she wasn’t consistent, and she wasn’t an impressive orator. Every single one of those candidate and character flaws were on display during Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate with the incumbent, Mike Pence.

Pence is a talented and disciplined debater to be sure, but Harris was entirely unable to hold her own. As in the primary, she fell back on nervous laughter when her opponent drew blood and repeated herself inarticulately when she had nothing to say. Take her word salad of an answer to a simple question from an eighth grader: “If our leaders can’t get along, how are the citizens supposed to get along?”

First of all, I love hearing from our young leaders. And when I hear her words, when I hear your words, Brecklin, I know our future is bright because it is that perspective on who we are and who we should be that is a sign of leadership, and is something we should all aspire to be. And brings me to Joe, Joe Biden. One of the reasons that Joe decided to run for president is after Charlottesville, which we talked about earlier. It so troubled him and upset him like it did all of us, that there was that kind of hate and division. What propelled Joe to run for president was to see that over the course of the last four years, what Brecklin described has been happening.

Contrast this partisan, meandering response to Pence’s simple, smooth answer about the friendship of the late justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I look at the relationship between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the late justice who we just lost from the Supreme Court, and the late justice Antonin Scalia. They were on polar opposites on the Supreme Court of the United States. One very liberal one, very conservative. But what’s been learned since her passing was the two of them and their families were the very closest of friends. Here in America, we can disagree. We can debate vigorously as Senator Harris and I have on this stage tonight. But when the debate is over, we come together as Americans. And that’s what people do, in big cities and small towns all across this country. So I just want to encourage you, Brecklin. I want to tell you that we’re going to work every day to have government as good as our people, and the American people each and every day. Love a good debate. We love a good argument. But we always come together and are always there for one another in times of need. And we’ve especially learned that through the difficulties of this year.

Moreover, Harris is downright mendacious. Asked by Pence if a Biden administration would support Democratic court-packing, Harris could not stop repeating the phrase “Let’s talk about packing.” When she finally started to answer, it became readily apparent to anyone watching that she really didn’t want to talk about court-packing, because she started rambling about how Trump hadn’t appointed any black judges to Courts of Appeals before finishing with: “You want to talk about packing a court? Let’s have that discussion.” That kind of inartful dodge won’t prove fatal to a VP candidate whose running mate is up nine points in the polls, but I doubt that voters will tolerate it at the top of a ticket one day.

Her denial that Biden would seek to ban fracking — an agenda item she promised in her own primary campaign and that Biden has contradicted himself on — was similarly clumsy: “I will repeat and the American people know that Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact. That is a fact.” Well if saying it only made it so! Note that she failed to outline what the Biden position on fracking was, exactly.

It is doubtful that the mistake of picking Kamala Harris as his running mate will cost Joe Biden the election, but I don’t believe that that mistake will propel Harris to a winning campaign of her own one day. To be elected president, you need to have a baseline level of charisma and political talent. Last night proved that she is far from reaching the necessary benchmark in either category.

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