From our family to yours, we wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season. pic.twitter.com/ZTgLP5Fs3D
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) December 24, 2022
— Ernie Apreza (@ErnestoApreza46) December 22, 2022
… To understand Harris’s 2022, I suggest looking at it as a tent held up by three poles. One is the Munich Security Conference in February.
Biden sent Harris to Germany on a critical mission at an important moment. In a Feb. 19 speech and in a private meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that same day, Harris warned of the looming threat to the rules-based international order posed by Russian troops massed for invasion. Harris sounded the alarm ahead of Russia’s assault on Ukraine that began on Feb. 24.
Another tent pole in Harris’s year is the U.S. delegation she led to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Thailand in November. North Korea made sure her third trip to the region was eventful by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile. Harris responded by coordinating the allied response to Kim Jong Un’s latest provocation…
To me, the third tent pole is the most important. After the leaked draft in May of what would later become the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision to end the constitutional right to abortion, the former California attorney general saw plainly the implications for other rights, such as marriage equality. She was eager to speak out, Harris told me, and instructed her staff: “I’m getting the bleep out of D.C.”
She traveled to 18 cities in 14 states, plus the District of Columbia, to host reproductive rights events. During those trips and at the White House, Harris met with 200 state legislators from 18 states, state attorneys general, students and clergy. All to build a coalition to push back against what was coming.
“This is about freedom and liberty,” the vice president recalled telling everyone she met. “Let’s take back the flag on this.”…
Harris has ably fulfilled the role Biden chose her to perform. She was an instrumental partner in helping to shepherd the first Black woman onto the Supreme Court. Also, Harris cast one of her record 26 tiebreaking votes to confirm the first Black woman to the Federal Reserve. With Democrats and their independent caucus-mates holding 51 Senate seats in the next Congress, Harris will no longer be needed for tiebreaking duty. Before I could even finish my question on this topic, Harris blurted out, “Praise be to God!”
Not being tethered to Washington by the pandemic or the threat of razor-thin votes means Harris can travel in the coming months. She can hear directly from the American people, and they can hear directly from her. They can take the measure of her. And they can see what I saw on Monday: a vice president better than her portrayal in the media.
Great interview ?@MollyJongFast?
On being 1st female, Black & South Asian American ??@VP? :
“a shame that we are still making firsts” Harris recalling her mother’s words ‘may be the first to do many things’ make sure she’s not the last” ? https://t.co/1P4FsFarAW
— Robert Wolf (@robertwolf32) December 22, 2022
When Vice President Kamala Harris learned the Supreme Court had reversed Roe, eliminating a constitutional right to an abortion and a half century of precedent, she quickly called her husband. “I was like, they bleep did it,” she recalled in an interview this week in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive building. “I was so upset,” she added. “I first had to release that feeling in an appropriate place, and then my team, we just roundtabled around what we need to do and what this means. I was actually on my way to a maternal mortality event, and the connection between these two issues is profound. The same people jumping up and down as proponents of Dobbs [have] been virtually silent on the fact that women in America are dying every day in connection with childbirth.”…
Sitting across from Harris had me thinking about how I’ve devoted a good deal of my life to analyzing how the media, and Americans more generally, treat powerful women. And here is the most powerful woman—quite literally one heartbeat away from the presidency. She is the first female, first Black and first South Asian American vice president. But before that, she was the first female district attorney in San Francisco and first female attorney general of California. “In this year of our Lord 2022, it is a shame that we are still making firsts,” Harris said, recalling how her mother would say that while she “may be the first to do many things,” she should make sure she’s not the last. “That’s why it is very important to me to make sure that I create a path and widen the path for others,” she said.
But despite such achievements, it occurs to me during our interview that the vice president of the United States is actually trying to make me feel comfortable. Perhaps it’s a function of the world we all inhabit, but the female vice president is way friendlier and more accommodating than a man in her position would ever be. There is an anxiety in her office—the staff is obsessive about getting every last detail right. No one says it to me explicitly, but you can sense in the carefulness and precision of every word and gesture that the success of the vice president is about more than just her. Harris is saddled with the burden of being first. Anything she does will attract more scrutiny, anything she doesn’t do will attract more scorn. There is a tension that permeates the world surrounding her. Being first is never comfortable…
Then Harris stepped back. “You talked about your mom. I grew up a child of the Civil Rights Movement, and a big part of the methodology and the success of that movement was coalition-building, bringing folks together to understand what they have in common.” Since the court was sending abortion rights to the states, she said, “we need to get out of DC and go and support and be with leaders in the states. I convened state legislators in red states and blue states to one, remind them they weren’t out here fighting alone, but to also see what I could do, to bring my platform and whatever cameras and voice I could bring, to uplift and highlight the incredible work that they’re doing at a state level.”…
One of the favorite DC parlor games is to speculate on the relationship between the president and vice president, with Politico reporting this week on a forthcoming book describing tensions between the two offices. Harris, however, only spoke favorably of her experience with Biden.
“It’s a great relationship. We get on so well. We’re real partners. We have a lot in common that people would know,” she said. “Family is very important to both of us. We are both of us lifelong public servants and really care about real people. I started my career, and most of my career was in local and state government. He started in local government, so he and I will often be almost singing in unison about, what does this mean to real people? We both feel very strongly about that. We come at our work from a very similar orientation; worrying about working people, worrying about working families. We just like each other a lot. We just like each other. It’s really nice. It’s really nice. I feel very fortunate to have this relationship. It matters because then we can be partners in a very significant way, not just in name only, to work on these issues.”
She mentioned family, and as a largely secular Jew myself living through a period of rising antisemitism, I told her there was something meaningful about having her husband, who is Jewish, living in the Naval Observatory. “We had a big Hanukkah party last night,” Harris told me, while also mentioning she believed the couple was the first to put a mezuzah on the house of the vice president. “When we put up the mezuzah, my in-laws came, and they’re originally from Brooklyn, and they are exactly what you would know and expect,” Harris said.
“She would have to be very pleased, your mother-in-law,” I remarked.
“Oh, yes. My mother-in-law, Barbara, is very pleased and proud of her son. My father-in-law is equally pleased. My father-in-law, he’s an artist, so he’s got this coexisting thing, which my husband has, of being very kind and being very strong. Sometimes he just tears up about it all, especially when Doug did the convening for the summit on antisemitism because here he is, this kid from Brooklyn, started with nothing, my father-in-law, and his son is doing this work that could and does and will impact millions of people.”
Y’all, watch this TikTok about VP Kamala Harris pic.twitter.com/8QZvMpkvhF
— Olivia (@itsmadamvpforya) December 19, 2022
In our family, the holidays are about being there for each other. Doug and I visited Martha’s Table to give back to our community. pic.twitter.com/nXrm8hrbfB
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) December 24, 2022