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The women who can still save Joe Biden’s presidency

Joe Biden’s possible successor is the real success story of this administration.

Joe Biden addresses Congress as Kamala Harris (L) and Nancy Pelosi look on. Photo: Melina Mara/Pool/ Getty Images

Joe Biden has two women following him in the line of succession, something that is not only unprecedented, but undreamt of.

It is too much for some.

You can always rely on the Mail Online to give you the important information about the first woman vice-president of the United States, and first person of colour to be VP, on her very first trip to Europe.

“Vice-president Kamala Harris spent more than $500 on cookware at a high-end Parisian culinary shop during her four-day visit to mend French and American relations earlier this month. Harris stopped by E. Dehillerin with second gentleman Doug Emhoff and ended up spending nearly $578 on pots, pans and other items, it has been revealed. The vice president treated herself to a $367 copper and stainless steel serving dish and a $160 copper and stainless steel frying pan.”

Vice-presidents have always been “fixers”, the guys with deep electoral experience, who can tell the president where the choppy waters are, who to schmooze, who to ignore, and who can deliver the death blow to major legislation.

Dick Cheney, sometimes called “the most dangerous vice-president in history”, served George W. Bush for two terms. Bush had been governor of Texas, a tough enough post, but he had not been any of these: a congressional intern, an aide to presidents Ford and Nixon, a member of Congress, a White House chief of staff, a minority whip or a secretary of defence.

Al Gore had been a congressman and a senator. Mike Pence had been governor of Indiana.

Kamala Harris had been elected attorney general of California. Following that she was elected to the US Senate where she was the state’s junior senator. She was formidable in the hearings around the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, ferocious in her assault on Joe Biden himself, as she brought up, during a presidential debate, his remarks on school bussing back in the Seventies. Becoming his running mate made a kind of perfect sense in this era of profound change.

She was The Answer.

However, there are reports that her staff are bailing, and, whether true or not, the press and the electorate bestow no mercy. Especially when the oldest person ever elected to the presidency is in office.

“Set up to fail” is the refrain, and some hint this comes from the top; that the president favours transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, who, Biden has said in public, reminds him of his beloved son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Harris had worked closely with Beau when they were both attorneys general.

During the presidential campaign, Trump zeroed in on Buttigieg, comparing him to Alfred E. Neuman of Mad magazine.

That quip went nowhere after Buttigieg said that he did not know who Alfred E. Neuman was.

Now there is talk that he might run for president if Biden does not seek a second term. As of yet, there is no talk of Harris.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy took the opportunity of something Congress calls “the magic minute” to, in effect, filibuster for 8½ hours, delaying Biden’s Build Back Better programme coming to a vote. In doing so, he surpassed Nancy Pelosi’s previous record for the longest speech. The whole point.

He ought to try it standing in heels. As house speaker Pelosi did.

While the president was backslapping in the dugout during the congressional ball game, Pelosi was on the phone to Joe Manchin, persuading him not to scuttle the bill when it reached the Senate.

Under the constitution, Kamala Harris is No.2 and Nancy Pelosi is No.3 behind Biden. While he was under general anaesthesia for 85 minutes recently, Kamala Harris was the first woman and first person of colour to be acting president of the United States.

To all those who think that Joe Biden is a doddering old fool who can’t find his way out of a closet, he has played a blinder with those two women as his partners.

They have both survived the cauldron that is Californian politics. One example: Harris, took on the odious “gay panic defence” in the murder of a transgender teen, and got convictions. Pelosi, who has said that her seat is so safe that the constituents would vote for a glass of water with a “D” on it, uses that position to advocate for the causes of the late congressman and activist John Lewis and many others.

Kamala Harris has to fight the entrenched sexism and racism not only of Washington, but also of the nation. She will also have to bring around, as a demographic, African American men. The big secret that the Black Lives Matter movement clouds is that African American males largely lean towards the Republicans. Trump got an endorsement from rapper Lil Wayne in 2019. And who can forget that meeting between him and Kanye West (as he was then known)?

It is key to understanding what this demographic feels about Harris.

The president’s party often loses the House at the midterms because that election is largely a referendum on the president’s time in office.

Obama lost more than 60 seats in the House, what he called “a shellacking”. But he won re-election. The Republicans did very well at the presidential election, but Trump lost them the White House.

Pelosi and Manchin share a love of their Italian heritage and a keen interest in the welfare of West Virginia coal miners. Pelosi is also friends with senator Kyrsten Sinema. But vice-president Harris is a new proposition.

Never forget: Joe Biden, no matter what he seems to be on the surface, is a ruthless, seasoned insider. In picking Kamala Devi Harris as his running mate, he knew exactly what he was doing.

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