(CNN)Kamala Harris flew to Guatemala and Mexico for a serious plan to curb migration from the Northern Triangle, but her efforts were swiftly eclipsed by her bold remark as to why she was not Vice President of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Her defensive answer to a topic which certainly appeared on her first overseas visit since she took office raises new worries about her political mobility, while she stumbles at attempts to depict her as an administration’s border czar, which is not Biden’s job.
Harris has been a lightning rod for republicans in her few months as Vice President—a helpful film for GOP when the assaults on President Joe Biden have not flown. At a time when critics parse all her actions and often vilify her in the same way as they did Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in their boogeymen in previous election cycles, Biden squeezed Harris up the heat by giving him a portfolio of immigration issues that is the political equivalent of dynamite.
The first overseas visit of any vice president is an acid test and, as a prospective party leader and the first woman of color to occupy the post, Harris was more than most under pressure. During her tour, Harris talked extensively on the reasons of mass migration, such as crime, bribery and climate change and offered millions of dollars in assistance and investment. She also issued a strong caution not to reach the border for unauthorized immigration.
However, her political mistakes eclipsed the accomplishments made on her journey.
In the face of questions that she does not like or does not want to answer, the Vice-President was never especially competent – as she proved in 2020 primaries when she repeatedly sneezed and fumbling issues about her health plans. In this example, she diverted from Lester Holt’s query why she didn’t visit the border by laughing and said she didn’t go to Europe as well, adding that she doesn’t get the point that Holt made – though everyone else understood.
It was a dull reply that came as tone-deaf since the situation at the US-Mexico border is one of the government’s most pressing challenges. Finding a way to stop Central American migration is a challenge that has evaded many governments for decades, but even some officials of the White House – who want it to succeed in this arduous task – were confused.
The debate with Holt was a reflection of Harris’ dissatisfaction and the work of his staff for weeks to make it clear that Biden was entrusted with managing diplomatic attempts to stop migration from the Northern Triangle and not fixing the situation on the US-Mexico border. While it is true that many other government agencies are responsible for managing the border, this position is a hard way for them to work out, since anybody with expertise in the area will tell you that the two questions are interlinked inexorably.
Harris clarifies her words at a press conference in Mexico by promising to visiting the border, which was an easy method of resolving the matter the first time she was asked to do so.
Her weak management of immigration policy has raised additional doubts about her political agility as a vice president as well as a prospective aspirant to the White House as she was her first high-level test of the trip this week.
The right-wing media attempts to paint Harris as totally incapable in affairs at the border—and she opened it up in an attempt to separate herself from the difficulties there. The embarrassment of her response to Holt dominated the news of her travel and led to doubts about her preparations and sexist criticism of her preparation. It also masked her substantial responses regarding the Northern Triangle policy and the rigorous, practical efforts she makes to dig in the area while trying to build the region’s strategy.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other GOP leaders – many of whom have made numerous visits to the border without solving the issue – pounced on the blunder they considered: “Kamala Harris wasn’t to Europe, she didn’t go to Australia yet we haven’t had a border problem in Australia or a European border issue,” tweeted Cruz. “We have a southern border issue. She need to come to Texas and witness the problem directly. #BidenBorderCrisis. Crisis.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said, “the only thing that Vice President Kamala Harris managed to do in the previous three days was actually to avoid addressing the deteriorating problem on the US border.”
Some of Harris’ criticism, particularly in the conservative media, is clearer, since she is the first Black woman to be vice president. For example, Katie Pavlich from Fox News argued that Biden picked Harris “based on gender and race instead of the real competence and competence” – an insensitive assertion that ignores the record and accomplishments of the former prosecutor who was a California Attorney General and an American Senator.
But success in politics depends on the capacity both at home and across the globe to grasp how to deflect criticism or uncomfortable inquiries in a manner that benefits them. She understands she is now faced with more scrutiny, even in her early days in California politics, since Biden indicated that he ranked as a “transitional figure” and then caught her as the last person in the room where he had made significant choices.
Precisely because she is seen as Biden’s prospective successor and a potential future Democratic candidate, the right to discredit her faces a persistent, long-standing effort. That implies that her focus is constantly brilliant, and that she needs a political operation which is constantly ready to respond. The negative assessments of the first tour reminded some of the flaws of a campaign in 2020 for the White House that did not live up to and learnt from its early promise.
She has taken on two key tasks from Biden – both stopping Northern Triangle migration and attacking voting rights – which are among the administrative thorniest concerns. Her maiden trip overseas sparked doubts about preparation and whether Harris had such a solid political staff that vice presidents need — particularly those somewhat new to the international stage and unaccustomed to the relentless scrutiny of top-class politics.
Those concerns are particularly significant to someone who is maybe the first female president, who is a heartbeat away from top jobs. It will take Harris time to build policy certainty and the ability to swallow up annoying press issues – as Hillary Clinton, for example, during her period as Secretary of State, proved. Clinton, who was less talented than Harris in retail politics, was nonetheless able to think of a few phrases ahead of the most successful global politicians while battling with the press or a foreign officer – Harris’ skill has yet to perfect.
Although Harris’s fault is not that immigration is a difficult matter, which has been a challenge to Presidents for many decades, its employees have frequently argued that its portfolio solely covers international, diplomatic components of the problem.
It is easy to understand why her helpers may perceive the border problems as a poisoned political cup. However, presidents and vice presidents of extension cannot select and select regions of duty for their responsibilities. The White House is burdened with all the problems that nobody else can fix.
Nevertheless, none of the harm to Harris during her journey is irreversible. If the subject of a foreign trip is gaffes, their wobbles are mild compared to former President Donald Trump’s conduct, whose tour was an ongoing exhibition of U.S. allies’ insults and democracy. Trump for example utilized the Russian President Vladimir Putin conference in Helsinki to disparage US intelligence agencies on live television while supporting the ex-KGB officer who interfered with US elections. And he spoke with one of North Korea’s most ruthless leaders, Kim Jong Un.
It’s fair to assume Harris would never imitate this behaviour. And while she had a difficult first journey, she still had plenty of opportunity to test herself.