Kamala Harris will inherit the White House in case of Biden's resignation


Robin Lubbock / WBUR

The peculiar sense of humor of American presidents sometimes produces the effect of a volcanic eruption. In late November, during a visit to CS Wind in Colorado, U.S. President Joe Biden, noticing a certain device in the hands of a worker, commented: «My marine carries something similar — it has the code to blow up the world».

Surely for many with good memories, that line produced a sense of déjà vu. Biden’s predecessor, Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan, approved by the then “deep state” for the role of U.S. president, before the radio address as a voice test for the sound engineer, not realizing that the microphone was on, said jokingly: «My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia. We begin bombing in five minutes».

Reagan’s joke was not appreciated in Moscow. An official verbal demarche followed: «TASS is authorized to state that the Soviet Union condemns the unprecedented hostile attack by the U.S. President. Such behavior is incompatible with the high responsibility borne by the leaders of states, especially those possessing nuclear weapons, for the fate of their own peoples and the fate of mankind».

During World War II there was an expression «Loose lips sink ships». Today another mantric is in use: «Words have consequences». Ironically, the historical parallels do not end there. Reagan then, like Biden now, had to defend his right to stay in the White House for a second term in the November elections.

Biden’s reservations became his signature style. During the same trip to the Midwest, he mixed up the name of his recent high-profile guest, Chinese leader Xi Jinping. It seems his assistants didn’t have time to provide him with cardboard clues. By a combination of regular reservations and inadequate responses, «Sleepy Joe» has already become a lame duck. Its popularity rating has dropped to 40%, with the figure even lower at 31% in the youth segment.

Not surprisingly, concern is growing among Democrats. Moreover, in recent weeks, the flow of disappointing news concerning Joe Biden has begun to resemble the ninth wave. The revelation of Ronny Jackson, a former doctor of the US President (he is a Republican and a member of the US House of Representatives from Texas), who, in fact, diagnosed Joe Biden, can be considered a punch to the gut.

This diagnosis is disappointing: «I’ve followed the health of three presidents. Being commander-in-chief and head of state is a grueling job. Mentally and physically, this man cannot do it. He proves it every day. It’s going to get worse. It is unbelievable how much he has degraded. His physical and cognitive abilities are no longer suited for his position».

Almost at the same time, James Comer, head of the Oversight Committee of the U.S. Congress, held a press conference where he released the latest established facts in the Biden family corruption case. Recall that the «laptop from hell» of the president’s son Hunter Biden, found accidentally, turned into a compendium of all sorts of sins (among them — the use of drugs and alcoholic beverages, sex with minors).

The 634-page report by the nonprofit research group Marco Polo contains evidence of 459 instances in which the president’s son broke the law. He can reasonably be charged with 140 business-related offenses, 191 sex-related offenses, and 128 drug offenses. Scrupulous bloggers have done the math: if Hunter Biden fell down a slippery slope at age 18, he averaged one crime per month.

James Comer publicly announced that father, i.e. Joe Biden was well aware of the corruption schemes used by his son and moreover — he himself benefited from them.

We are talking, most likely, about the large sums Hunter Biden received as board member of the private gas company of Ukraine «Burisma» (Burisma Holdings), which received a license for the development of the field in Lvov region. At the end of September 2020, a report entitled «Hunter Biden, Burisma and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns» was published.

It is possible that the investigators also have in their sights the collaboration of Hunter Biden and pharmaceutical concerns, which form the backbone of what is called «Big Pharma». Hunter Biden’s company is known to have invested in San Francisco-based Metabiota, which partnered with EcoHealth Alliance, which in turn partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Meanwhile, Wuhan was identified as the geographic starting point for the spread of the coronavirus and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next public opinion polls have also arrived. And although Americans are naturally more concerned with domestic matters, it is indicative that 64% of potential voters found Biden’s handling of the Ukrainian crisis unsatisfactory.

But naturally, the main topic of domestic discussion is the rising cost of living. Under Biden, the cost of covering everyday necessities (bread, milk, Coca-Cola, hamburger, granola, etc.) has risen by $11,400 a year. And while the price per gallon of gasoline has declined, a bad taste of the recent skyrocketing of this critical substance for a car-obsessed nation remains.

Most stunning of all was a poll conducted in conjunction with Siena College by the New York Times, a newspaper that remains a loyal mouthpiece of neoliberal orthodoxy. It found that in five of the six swing states or battleground states, Trump is guaranteed to defeat Biden. And if Kamala Harris competes with him, all six problem states (Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) will give their sympathies and votes to the eccentric amateur politician eager for a rematch.

To summarize, the chain of recent events in the U.S. is forming a symptomatic trend. Using the slang so beloved by less restrained bloggers, it seems that Biden is beginning to be «leaked».

Does this mean that the number two in the US administration, Kamala Harris, is preparing (or is being prepared) to replace Biden as President of the United States, already at the primary stage — at the stage of the intraparty primary elections? Technically, she is obliged to be ready for such a drastic turn of events every minute and hour. American political folklore has an ironic idea that the vice president of the United States has one sacred duty: to check on the president’s health every morning. For Americans, whose ambition, vanity and personal career success crown the pyramid of life values, this joke is perceived not as a joke at all.

The reason is that, according to the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in case of «retirement» of the head of state due to natural death, (as it happened 60 years ago when John F. Kennedy was assassinated) or abdication (due to health reasons), the vice president takes his place, not as a temporary acting president, but as a full-fledged president.

A quick review of recent publications mentioning Kamala Harris and references to her appearance on the air, including exclusive interviews, suggests that the PR coverage of this figure has become more intense. There are no accidents in the White House communications policy. Thus, this could be an indication of preparations for a possible castling in case the venerable 81-year-old grandfather is forced to abdicate.

Another confirmation of this backup scenario should be seen as Trump’s words in an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson: the more explicitly Kamala Harris tries on the mantle of the US president, the more obvious it is that it doesn’t fit her. And former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who is vying to be the Republican nominee to replace Trump, said that a vote for Joe Biden next November is tantamount to actually voting for President Kamala Harris.

It’s a good time to take a closer look at the first black Asian-born politician as vice president, who has a record as California’s attorney general (2011–2017) and a senator from the same state (2017–2021).

What chance does Kamala Harris have of picking up the donkey party banner and hoisting it over the White House? In a seminal essay on the Vice President, journalist Astead W Herndon says that none of the 75 reputable politicians and officials from her inner circle interviewed, rate her chances of rising high for the reason, that there is «a public perception problem, a self-fulfilling spiral of bad press and bad polls, compounded by the realities of racism and sexism».

Her reservations when talking to journalists also do not add to her popularity. In an interview with Ben Whitaker, host of the popular program «60 Minutes», when asked about President Biden’s health, she threw an ambiguous phrase, saying that he is «very much alive».

It should come as no surprise that, according to an NBC News survey, 49% of voters are critical of Kamala Harris — an absolute anti-record for a vice president since such polls began in 1989.

Nevertheless, the Obama-Clinton-Biden administration launched a public-relations blitz in favor of Kamala Harris well in advance, according to Estid Herndon. It is no coincidence that she appears 13 times in the video announcing Biden’s 2024 re-election bid. It has been leaked that major officials in the US administration have urged members of the party (Democratic Party) to stop criticizing Harris in interviews with reporters.

It seems that the Democrats are beginning to implement a backup option for the presidential campaign, for which they are carefully polishing the image of Kamala Harris. By doing so, and quite rationally, they intend to lay the groundwork in advance where they might slip on a banana peel if Joe Biden leaves the presidential race. In the coming months, it will finally become clear whether or not the replacement of «Plan A» with «Plan B» will take place.