The Last Vice President and the MVP (with Reecie Colbert)
A tale of two number twos.
For the Beltway press, a reality check:
The last Vice President was hand-picked by convicted felon Paul Manafort—you know, the same traitor who gave polling data to his colleague, a Russian intelligence officer.
When the last Vice President was governor of Indiana, he exacerbated an HIV outbreak in his state, because his retrograde religious beliefs were more important to him than the lives of his constituents. He drew on this experience as chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, where his criminal negligence directly led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. As I wrote last December:
As the pandemic raged on, Pence did not adjust his position. To the contrary, he doubled down, even as staffers in his office came down with the virus. He attended maskless rallies in retirement communities. He and his wife refused to take appropriate caution when debating Kamala Harris. He’s still taking unnecessary risks, putting innocent people in needless danger. Maybe he thinks we can pray away the Rona, like he thinks we can pray away the gay?
The last Vice President was not “invisible.” He was always there beside the Former Guy, a beatific Lurch attending the orange-coiffed Uncle Fester who was his master. The ship of state had been hijacked by a homicidal madman, and the last Vice President amplified him, supported him, defended him, his piercing blue eyes staring calmly into the roiling sea. The last Vice President had no free will. Whatever spell the Former Guy had over him was total. As I wrote a year ago:
This sort of relationship is easily recognizable to anyone who binge-watched The Sopranos during quarantine—or who read Goethe. We’re just not used to seeing it in this context. The Vice President of the United States is supposed to be the President’s successor, not his property. And that’s what Mike Pence is.
This is not sycophancy. This is ownership.
The only time in four years of slavish devotion that the last Vice President betrayed the wishes of his owner was on January 6, when the Former Guy dispatched an army of MAGA lunatics to kill him and his family. Surviving this clear and present threat to his life, the last Vice President refused to play ball. Then he went right back to kissing his owner’s diapered ass.
When the Beltway press writes about the last Vice President, his complicity in the death of three quarters of a million Americans is seldom mentioned. The truth about his involvement with Trump’s many crimes is glossed over. And the horror of January 6—a day when the last Vice President feared for his own life, and that of his family who was with him—is sanitized.
This week, the last Vice President made news when he gave an interview to the Christian Broadcasting Network—the sort of thing one does when one is preparing to run for higher office. The articles about this generally ignore the larger context, normalizing January 6. Here is The Hill:
Former Vice President Mike Pence said he believes he “did the right thing” when he certified the results of the 2020 presidential election in January, ignoring then-President Trump’s repeated requests that he object to the vote.
Pence, in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network that is set to air on Thursday, said he knows in his “heart of hearts” he did the right thing on Jan. 6.
He added that despite some concerns he had with the vote, his oath of office required him to protect and defend the Constitution, which he believes he did by going against Trump’s orders and certifying the results.
Basically, the D.C. press is totally fine with the last Vice President, despite all the people he killed, despite all the crimes he abetted, despite the pusillanimous way he conducted himself for four years.
This is in sharp contrast to the current Vice President, MVP Kamala Harris. The Beltway press loves nothing more than to criticize her. If she’s not standing next to Biden, she’s invisible. If she is standing next to him, she’s not supportive enough. An actual news analysis piece at CNN—a long-ass article—began thus:
Worn out by what they see as entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus, key West Wing aides have largely thrown up their hands at Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff—deciding there simply isn’t time to deal with them right now, especially at a moment when President Joe Biden faces quickly multiplying legislative and political concerns.
The exasperation runs both ways. Interviews with nearly three dozen former and current Harris aides, administration officials, Democratic operatives, donors and outside advisers—who spoke extensively to CNN—reveal a complex reality inside the White House.
Heavens to Betsy! There’s a complex reality inside the White House!
How in the actual fuck is that a story?
Never to be outdone with garbage takes, Chris Cillizza—a man who spent five years bending over backwards to laud Ivanka Trump—wrote a piece yesterday called “What the heck is going on with Kamala Harris?”
What’s going on with Kamala Harris, as Reecie Colbert of Black Women Views Media explains in today’s episode of the PREVAIL podcast, is that the MVP is busy doing her job, and doing it well.
“[S]ince her inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, Vice President Harris has been a part of over 300 events,” Colbert writes in The Grio. “She has held an additional 116 private meetings with President Biden. The press has been present at gatherings with Vice President Harris over 330 times. Yet even as she embarked on a high profile (and ultimately successful) diplomatic trip to Paris. . . which included bilateral talks with President Emmanuel Macron of France, the media ran multiple stories falsely claiming that she was invisible.” She adds: “Make no mistake about it, the media and Harris critics are not merely oblivious to her presence, they are refusing to acknowledge it.”
As Colbert and I discuss, the Beltway press thrives on drama, controversy, and horse races. When presented with competence, reporters lose interest. But competence crushes the vaccine rollout. Competence whips up the votes for massive relief and infrastructure packages. Competence establishes excellent working relationships with key leaders in Europe, and the countries to our north and our south. What competence doesn’t do is sell newspapers, or keep eyeballs trained on the zombie box.
The Beltway press wants to write about volatile poll numbers and who will run in 2024 if Biden can’t. They have already collectively decided that Kamala Harris is not the right person for the job—probably because, as Colbert notes in our talk, the MVP is not a media schmoozer, and has never done a charm offensive with the Washington press corps.
“Nevertheless, the portfolio Madam Vice President has taken the lead on has made it clear that she is stepping up to, not shying away from, high expectations and tough assignments,” Colbert writes. “Vice President Harris has a substantial portfolio that includes COVID-19 racial equity, voting rights, foreign diplomacy, broadband access, and the National Space Council. President Biden also credited Vice President Harris with playing an instrumental role in lobbying for passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.”
Not only that, but Biden formally transferred the powers of the presidency to her when he had his colonoscopy two weeks ago. For a few hours, Kamala Harris was Acting President. During those few hours, the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was reached. Her comments that day—remember, this kid got away with gunning down two people—were reasonable and measured:
If you search for that clip, though, all you see is the press taking shots at her. The rightwing media in particular despises Kamala Harris. It attacks her constantly, always looking for a narrative that will stick. I ask Colbert: Is this because she humiliated Jeff Sessions, Bill Barr, and Brett Kavanaugh in the Senate? Or is it just racism and misogyny?
“It’s just racism and misogyny,” Colbert says.
The notion of a competent Chief Executive who is both Black and a woman is too much for these small-minded folks to bear. It collapses the story they tell themselves about white male superiority.
For now, the prevailing Kamala narrative is that she is “invisible.” The press erases her while simultaneously denouncing her as not there. This frame is almost impossible to combat. “Harris seeking a more prominent profile would be frowned upon in the West Wing,” Colbert writes, “and lambasted by the same ‘invisible’-peddling critics as too ambitious and self-aggrandizing.”
But the resume speaks for itself. The MVP has been an integral part of the Biden Administration—which is the best presidency of my lifetime. Kamala Harris deserves a big share of credit for that. Her adversaries on the right are well aware of this, and that’s why they attack her so relentlessly. She’s as competent as it gets, and as much as they don’t want it to happen, she will be a fantastic president.
But let me make this as simple as possible, in case Cillizza is reading this: The last Vice President tried to kill us all. The MVP is trying to make our lives better.
S2 E14: She’s Right Here: Kamala Counteroffensive (with Reecie Colbert of Black Women Views Media)
Greg Olear speaks with Reecie Colbert, founder of Black Women Views Media, about disinformation campaigns, Democratic Party messaging, mainstream media failures, and Biden’s successes, and they debunk the many false narratives about Vice President Kamala Harris. Plus: a new musical.
Follow Reecie Colbert:
Black Women Views YouTube channel:
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore. U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.