The head of Kamala Harris’ speechwriting team announced her departure from the VP’s office effective at the end of this month, capping months of forehead-slapping moments by Harris in set-piece remarks.
Just last month, Harris was heavily criticized for comparing last year’s Capitol riot to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington by al Qaeda terrorists.
“Certain dates echo throughout history, including dates that instantly remind all who have lived through them where they were, and what they were doing when our democracy came under assault,” Harris said on the anniversary of the riot. “Dates that occupy not only a place on our calendars, but a place in our collective memory: Dec. 7, 1941, Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 6, 2021.”
While many accused the vice president of a hyperbolic lack of historical perspective, the White House argued the criticism was a distraction from the real issues.
“For those who are being critics of the Vice President’s remarks, instead of focusing on or analyzing comparisons of moments in history, I would suggest that they be part of solving the threats of democracy that occurs today, that is happening today,” press secretary Jen Psaki said, “and they’re using this as an excuse not to be part of that.”
Back in October, Harris bore the brunt of historically-based criticism once again, saying in a speech marking Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day that the US “must not shy away” from the “shameful past” of how the first European explorers “ushered in a wave of devastation for tribal nations.”
Conservative critics lambasted her, saying the remarks were anti-American and a slight to Italian immigrants and their descendants who celebrate Columbus Day and hold the explorer in high regard.
Days later, Harris used Air Force Two and SUVs to travel to Nevada to give a speech about the supposed urgency of the climate crisis.
“On the issue of climate, well, the Build Back Better agenda will help us tackle the climate crisis with investments in clean energy and electric vehicles, and so we can reduce emissions,” Harris said. “And why do we need to reduce emissions? Because that is part of what is contributing to these drought conditions.”
“A motorcade of several SUVs and a Boeing 757 instead of a zoom call really shows you care about the climate ‘crisis,’” blogger and radio host Erick Erickson tweeted sarcastically at the time.
“Nothing conveys your deep concern about carbon emissions than boarding a private jet to fly cross country to ‘discuss’ carbon emissions and how to save the planet from, well, from people like you!” conservative commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza agreed.
“I don’t think that we should underestimate what that could mean, because, in some people’s mind, that means, well, you’re going to have to Xerox or photocopy your ID to send it in to prove that you are who you are,” Harris said.
“There are a whole lot of people, especially people who live in rural communities, who don’t — there’s no Kinko’s, there’s no Office Max near them,” she continued.
Many Republicans called the comment “insulting,” while others, including Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.) noted they could use such equipment.
“I live in a rural community and I am perfectly capable of operating a copying machine, Kamala,” she tweeted.
In June, Harris was criticized by another prominent member of her own party after the veep told potential migrants from Guatemala to “not come” to the US-Mexico border due to the dangerous journey.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called the advice “disappointing.”
“First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival,” she said, according to Business Insider. “Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing.”
Throughout the criticism, the White House has proudly stood by Harris.
In November, White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed that criticism of the vice president was based in racism and sexism.
“I do think that it has been easier, and harsher, from some in the right wing who have gone after her because she is the first woman, the first woman of color,” the press secretary said. “I’m not suggesting anyone will acknowledge that publicly, but I think there’s no question that the type of attacks — the attacks on her that certainly, being the first she is many times over, is part of that.”