With President Biden abroad this week, Vice President Kamala Harris is taking the national reins— just like her predecessors. But what’s remarkable about this unremarkable state of affairs is just how much coverage she’s been getting for doing her job.
Harris is continuing recent vice presidents’ trend of taking on a more activist role, like Dick Cheney during the Bush years and Biden himself during Obama’s tenure. But she’s been getting far more coverage for far more— and more minor— activities.
- Is Harris getting more attention for doing the same job because of her gender and race? Or are reporters trying to fill a post-Trump, post-vaccine airtime void? News outlets rarely assign beat reporters to vice presidents, but they have for Harris.
- Is this experiment going to work? Cheney and Biden had been in Washington for decades before assuming the executive office’s second most powerful post. Despite her talent and future prospects, Harris is a relative newcomer. Will she be able to keep up?
- What happens next? In addition to promoting vaccines in South Carolina— an important primary state— Harris is meeting this week with Texas Democrats who blocked a voting bill. But perhaps most interesting, Harris invited all 24 women senators – a third Republicans— to her home for dinner tonight, the first official social event at her home and first of its kind in many years.
If Harris can revive bipartisanship among a quarter of the Senate’s voting body, she’ll be exceptional indeed.