There was ample speculation prior to the election that, due in part to his age and mental condition, President Joe Biden might be unable to serve the entirety of his term in office, to be replaced at some point by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Though the administration would almost certainly never publicly admit it, one author says it already looks like Harris has taken on a sort of “apprentice” role on Biden and is engaged in a sort of on-the-job training for a potential promotion at some point, according to the Washington Examiner.
Such was the takeaway from author Jack Lechelt, who wrote “The Vice Presidency in Foreign Policy: From Mondale to Cheney.” Lechelt told the Examiner that the role filled by Harris is “more an apprentice position” than as a sort of consigliere adviser like other vice presidents have been.
In support of that view is the fact that Harris has already engaged on her own in calls with prominent world leaders and has been included in nearly all of Biden’s meetings with Cabinet members and other top advisers.
“It’s a smart move to make sure that Cabinet, foreign policy, and, I imagine, defense leaders, are going to, whether substantive or not, be meeting with her,” Lechelt said, and added, “That tells people she’s someone the president values. Maybe doesn’t need, but it’s always going be hard to know exactly what’s happening between Biden and Harris.”
That assessment also seems to be shared by Jack Goldstein, author of “The White House Vice Presidency: The Path to Significance, Mondale to Biden,” who noted that Harris has already spoken directly with French President Emmanuel Macron, a close ally of America since the Revolutionary War.
“They are not having her start off with a relatively insignificant country,” he said, suggesting that she was already being prepared to play an important and comparatively outsized role in relation to past vice presidents.
Goldstein went on to note that, in terms of Harris being by Biden’s side at all times, “she will be the last person in the room, she will have the chance to change the president’s mind, she will take on assignments that matter.”
Something to keep an eye on
The New York Post reported that Harris held her phone call with Macron on Monday. This was actually her third one-on-one call with a top world leader, the other two being Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
To be sure, it is not unheard of for a vice president to hold direct calls with other world leaders, as the Post noted several examples of former Vice President Mike Pence doing exactly that over the past four years.
That said, for Harris to be speaking directly one-on-one with top allies so early on in her term has raised a few eyebrows.
Whether Harris’s activities remain focused on diplomacy and foreign policy or branch out into other aspects of the presidency, including domestic policy, or if it seems to ramp up in terms of frequency, is something that a lot of people will be keeping a close watch on in the coming months.