Maybe Kamala is the problem.
Politico‘s interviews with 22 people in Vice President Kamala Harris’s office revealed a mess similar to her weak presidential campaign.
Harris’s recent visit to the “border” caused a ruckus among her staff:
For days, aides and outside allies had been calling and texting with each other about the political fallout that a potential trip would entail. But when it became known that she was going to El Paso, it left many scrambling, including officials who were responsible for making travel arrangements and others outside the VP’s office charged with crafting the messaging across the administration.
The handling of the border visit was the latest chaotic moment for a staff that’s quickly become mired in them. Harris’ team is experiencing low morale, porous lines of communication and diminished trust among aides and senior officials. Much of the frustration internally is directed at Tina Flournoy, Harris’ chief of staff, a veteran of Democratic politics who began working for her earlier this year.
In interviews, 22 current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials and associates of Harris and Biden described a tense and at times dour office atmosphere. Aides and allies said Flournoy, in an apparent effort to protect Harris, has instead created an insular environment where ideas are ignored or met with harsh dismissals and decisions are dragged out. Often, they said, she refuses to take responsibility for delicate issues and blames staffers for the negative results that ensue.
An administration official tried to direct the blame at Harrie because everything “starts at the top.” The official is 100% correct.
Another person said, “People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment. It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated. It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s*it.”
Harris’s senior advisor and chief spokesperson pulled the race card:
Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson for Harris, pushed back against the complaints and defended Flournoy saying she has an “open door policy” and that “Black women like me would not have the opportunity to work in politics without Tina.” Of the chief of staff’s anonymous critics, she added: “People are cowards to do this this way.”
“We are not making rainbows and bunnies all day. What I hear is that people have hard jobs and I’m like ‘welcome to the club,’” Sanders added. “We have created a culture where people, if there is anything anyone would like to raise, there are avenues for them to do so. Whoever has something they would like to raise, they should raise it directly.”
Other defenders used the race card as well because “women in power – Black women in particular – are subjected to standards that men often don’t have to clear.”
But the interviews are part of a pattern that followed Harris to the White House:
Just six months in, some of those aides in the Office of the Vice President said they are eyeing other employment opportunities. Others have left already. In recent days, two top advance staffers, Karly Satkowiak and Gabrielle DeFranceschi, parted ways with Harris in what they and Harris officials said were long-planned departures, a point disputed by two other people familiar with the matter.
For DeFranceschi, the deputy director of advance, the departure came down to a “difference in opinion on how things should run,” according to another person familiar with the matter, who said that Harris’ office is run “very different” from the Obama operation, where DeFranceschi previously worked. “If you have an opinion about how things should run and it’s not listened to, that can be frustrating.”
Let’s look at Harris’s presidential campaign. It started off on top, but Harris quickly plummeted to the bottom. The campaign imploded from the inside causing veteran states operations director Kelly Mehlenbacher to resign with a scathing resignation letter obtained by The New York Times.
But the failure did not surprise some people close to Harris. Her advisors also blamed her:
Yet, even to some Harris allies, her decline is more predictable than surprising. In one instance after another, Ms. Harris and her closest advisers made flawed decisions about which states to focus on, issues to emphasize and opponents to target, all the while refusing to make difficult personnel choices to impose order on an unwieldy campaign, according to more than 50 current and former campaign staff members and allies, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations and assessments involving the candidate.
Many of her own advisers are now pointing a finger directly at Ms. Harris. In interviews several of them criticized her for going on the offensive against rivals, only to retreat, and for not firmly choosing a side in the party’s ideological feud between liberals and moderates. She also created an organization with a campaign chairwoman, Maya Harris, who goes unchallenged in part because she is Ms. Harris’s sister, and a manager, Mr. Rodriguez, who could not be replaced without likely triggering the resignations of the candidate’s consulting team. Even at this late date, aides said it’s unclear who’s in charge of the campaign.
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