Vice President Kamala Harris has “rabbit ears” for criticism, which are a source of frustration in President Biden’s West Wing, according to a new book.
According to journalist Franklin Foer’s forthcoming book “The Last Politician,” Harris’ purported insecurity about how she was perceived led some colleagues to compare her to large-eared varmints.
“Harris possessed what one of her colleagues described as ‘rabbit ears,’” Foer wrote. “Whenever there was a hint of criticism of her — either in the West Wing or in the press — she seemed instantly aware of it.”
“Rather than brushing it aside, she wanted to know who was speaking ill of her and what they were saying,” Foer wrote, noting that when Harris “read a devastating story” on a news website “about her mismanagement of her team,” the vice president “responded by briefly freezing out an aide whom she suspected of cooperating with reporters.”
“She let the criticism guide her,” he added. “Instead of diligently sticking to the Central America assignment, she seemed to accept the conventional wisdom about it. It was a futile gig, so she let it fall to the side, missing an opportunity to grind her way to a meaningful achievement.”
In the same chapter, Foer wrote that while President Biden “treated [Harris] with impeccable respect, he simply didn’t hand her the substantive role that he played in the Obama administration.”
Foer wrote that Biden “had helped plug the gaps in Obama’s resume” but that the president “didn’t need Harris in the same way Obama needed Biden.”
“Ron Klain assumed the role of Harris’ guide,” Foer wrote. “He thought of himself as the building’s resident expert on the vice presidency, having worked for both Al Gore and Joe Biden as they sat in the second chair.”
“But he struggled to productively help her. He felt Harris kept making life excessively difficult by imposing all sorts of constraints on herself,” he continued.
“She told him that she didn’t want to work on women’s issues or anything to do with race,” Foer added. “She wanted her office to be majority female — and to have a Black woman as chief of staff.”
Foer wrote that, to “Klain’s ear, she was creating too many rules, and they made it hard for her to find her footing.”
Foer wrote that the vice president — who has had multiple image resets in her tenure — searched constantly for issues to add to her portfolio, but was “reluctant to accept them when they were suggested to her.”
Harris “asked to be placed in charge of relations with Scandinavia — away from the spotlight.” Yet, when “she finally asked for a meaty assignment” on voting rights, “Klain initially balked — hardly the vote of confidence she needed,” Foer wrote.
“But she was being guided by staff whom she didn’t know and didn’t especially trust,” Foer wrote. “And given the circumstances, Biden didn’t feel especially obligated to coach her along.”
“At the beginning, he said that they would have weekly lunches,” he added. “But those began to fall off the schedule.”
Neither the vice president’s office nor the White House immediately provided comment.
“The Last Politician” will be released Tuesday from Penguin Random House.
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