Are The Rumors About A Bad Relationship Between Kamala Harris And Joe Biden True?

When President Joe Biden was just candidate Biden, he had a very good idea of what he wanted when he set out looking for a running mate. After all, when he held the job himself, the former vice president's scope of responsibilities was arguably far greater than any his predecessors might have had — with the exception of Vice President Dick Cheney, that is. As former Obama senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, told The Atlantic, "Joe Biden's vice president will most likely be the most powerful vice president in history because the trend is toward more powerful vice presidents ... Joe Biden knows the value of having a vice president with lots of responsibility, and Joe Biden is going to inherit an epic disaster."

Pfeiffer's words were prophetic because Biden did, in his words "inherit an epic disaster" which has thus far included the return of COVID as a "pandemic of the unvaccinated (via Associated Press)," rising inflation, a supply chain crunch, and a PR nightmare triggered by America's withdrawal from Afghanistan (via Foreign Policy). 

Now the Biden administration is dealing with a new problem, this time from within: and it involves the chatter that all is not exactly rosy between the president and the vice president. 

Are Biden and Harris in 'an exhausted stalemate'?

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris haven't been seen together much, at least in public, which is partly what is fueling these bad-blood rumors. As The Quint points out, the pair took part in 38 joint appearances in February, and just seven in October. There have also been rumors coming out of the vice president's office, hinting that because Biden doesn't really trust Harris, as her work load could be bigger.

"She's [Harris is] very honored and very proud to be vice president of the United States. Her job as the No. 2 is to be helpful and supportive to the President and to take on work that he asks her to take on. It is natural that those of us who know her know how much more helpful she can be than she is currently being asked to be," California's lieutenant governor and longtime Harris friend Eleni Kounalakis told CNN. "That's where the frustration is coming from."

CNN has also reported that while Harris has said both she and the president enjoy a good working relationship, their aides say they have moved into what was described as "an exhausted stalemate." "Kamala Harris has spent almost a year taking a lot of the hits that the West Wing didn't want to take themselves," a former Harris aide told CNN.

Kamala Harris' team takes to Twitter to quiet the noise

Chatter about the state of affairs between the two top people in the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration bubbled over into the public space during the Vice President's trip to France, which was designed to patch things up between the two countries after a bilateral tiff over submarines (via The Washington Post). 

As it happened, Harris' perceived success on the global stage caused her communications staff to go on the offensive to quiet the noise on what their team has been doing — and what the media has been doing. Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh took to Twitter to write, "Honored to work for @VP every day. She's focused on the #BuildBackBetter agenda and delivering results for the American people." 

Deputy Communications Director Herbie Ziskend also used Twitter to share how he really felt about the chatter, writing, "Gossip, palace intrigue, and my favorite, 'people familiar with.' But in terms of what matters: millions of jobs created. Fastest economic growth in decades. Hundreds of millions of shots in arms. Relief to working families. The noise is the noise – we are doing the work."

Joe Biden 'wants her to succeed'

Los Angeles Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak offered up what appears to be a simple explanation that might explain what could be happening to Kamala Harris: and that is that she became vice president. As he put it, "Virtually every vice-president in modern history ... has looked smaller than when he or she accepted the position. That's because a main job requirement is stepping away from the spotlight, except when cheerleading for the president and his agenda." 

He added that Harris "made humility a top item on her public-facing agenda", which only reinforced Harris' cautious nature. Barabak further points out that because Harris has a much more brief Washington resume than Biden does, there is little that she can add that the president doesn't already know.

When it comes down to it, what is really going on between the president and vice president depends on who you ask. But perhaps its important note that, as Shirley Anne Warshaw, a presidential and vice-presidential expert on decision making for Gettysburg College put it (via Evening Standard), "I think he wants her to succeed and he wants to build up her record. This is his legacy at stake if she doesn't succeed."