LARRY ELDER: The Kamala conundrum — why Dems are stuck with her

A USA Today-Suffolk University poll placed Vice President Kamala Harris’ approval ratings at 28%, 10 points below that of President Joe Biden. The U.K. Telegraph tweeted: “With Kamala Harris looking unelectable, the Democrats are considering the nuclear option. Whispers in Washington suggest Joe Biden’s camp has a plan to find a more popular replacement ahead of the 2024 battle.”

When Harris ran for president, she dropped out before the Iowa caucus, the first contest in the primary. She garnered little support from her home state, California. Harris got called out for hypocrisy during a debate by rival Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) for — among other things — prosecuting marijuana crimes only to make light in an interview about smoking marijuana.

When Harris quit the race, she said: “I’ve taken stock and I’ve looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days I have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

But the party’s presidential nominee picked her as his running mate. When Harris became vice president, Biden announced her role as a border czar and also asked her to be his point person to push the passage of a proposed “voting rights” law.

The border remains a mess, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was stalled in the Senate. Her staff grumbled off the record, calling these two jobs lose-lose, and even suggested “racism” at play given the growing stature of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. And then there is the cackle. Critics say Harris resorts to this kind of phony, uncomfortable laughter when she struggles to answer questions for which she is not prepared.

All of this raises the question: Why did Biden choose her in the first place?

The answer is simple. The woke/identity Democratic Party could not and would not abide another presidential and vice-presidential ticket with two white males. The party’s most loyal constituency is Black females. According to Pew Research Center data released in 2020: “In 2018 and 2019, 48% of White women identified as Democrats, compared with 35% of White men. … Among Hispanic women (67% identified as Democrats vs. 58% of Hispanic men. …) … Black women (87%) were more likely than Black men (77%) to identify as Democrats.”

So, Harris checked the necessary boxes — a female “person of color” who identifies as Black. But this also presents a problem. If the Biden administration tossed her overboard it would face a withering attack of “sexism and racism.”

Consider NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson’s response to the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager on trial for killing two white men and injuring a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin: “We have seen this same outcome time and time again. … This verdict is a reminder of the treacherous role white supremacy and privilege play within our justice system.”

In addition, while Harris may be broadly unpopular, she enjoys a 72% approval rating among Black voters, and her approval among Black female voters is likely even higher. So, the only possible way out is for Biden and the party to swap her for another Black female. But the bench is shallow.

Michelle Obama? She hates politics and has repeatedly said she has no interest. Oprah Winfrey? Ditto.

Domestic policy adviser Susan Rice? Tainted by the falsehoods about Benghazi that she peddled as former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Rice was not put forward as Obama’s secretary of state because she would not have gotten Senate confirmation. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)? Too offensive.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams? She claims, despite a lack of evidence, that she actually won but her race was stolen. This would rob Democrats of their attack line against former President Donald Trump, who makes the same claim about the 2020 presidential election for himself. Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Winsome Sears and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice? Wrong party.

No, the Dems are stuck with Harris.

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