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Tag: kamala harris

Martin Luther King's Family Joins Call For US Voting Reform

Washington (AFP) - Members of Martin Luther King Jr's family joined marchers Monday in Washington urging Congress to pass voting rights reform as the United States marked the holiday commemorating the slain civil rights leader.

King's son Martin Luther King III spoke at the march, warning that many states "have passed laws that make it harder to vote" more than half a century after the activism of his father.

The march's message was aimed at boosting support for the Freedom to Vote Act currently before the Senate, and which passed in the House of Representatives last week.

But the bill faces an uphill battle as President Joe Biden negotiates with two holdout senators in his own Democratic Party to change a procedural rule that would allow Congress to pass the law without Republican support.

Biden argues the bill is vital to protecting American democracy against Republican attempts to exclude Black and other predominantly Democratic voters through a spate of recently enacted laws at state and local levels.

Marchers at Monday's Peace Walk echoed demands made by MLK more than 60 years ago as they chanted, "What do we want? Voting rights! When do we want it? Now!"

Many carried posters printed with King's image and his famous 1957 appeal to "Give us the ballot," which called on the federal government to enforce Black Americans' right to vote nationwide, including in the heavily segregated South.

"We march because our voting rights are under attack right now," pastor Reverend Wendy Hamilton told AFP at the demonstration.

"As a matter of fact, our democracy is very fragile," said Hamilton, a local politician in Washington, whose residents themselves do not have full representation in Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, such as Terri Sewell from Alabama and chairwoman Joyce Beatty from Ohio, also spoke at the march -- as did King's 13-year-old granddaughter Yolanda Renee King.

King's daughter Bernice King also took to the social media platform to call for the Senate to pass voting reform.

"If these state voter suppression laws persist, the America my father dreamed about will never come to be," she wrote.

At the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris urged senators to pass the Freedom to Vote Act in honor of King's legacy.

King "pushed for racial justice, for economic justice and for the freedom that unlocks all others: the freedom to vote," she said.

She denounced bills under consideration or already passed in state legislatures that she said could make it harder for 55 million Americans to cast ballots.

"To truly honor the legacy of the man we celebrate today, we must continue to fight for the freedom to vote, for freedom for all," Harris said.

Biden and Harris last week visited the crypt where King -- who was assassinated in 1968 at age 39 -- and his wife, Coretta Scott King, are buried in Atlanta.

How The New York Times Covered (White Male) Veeps Before Kamala

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

For anyone not convinced that the Beltway press is using a new double standard to cover Vice President Kamala Harris, and has subjected her to an unprecedented level of scrutiny, the proof is in the print.

Here is a sample of New York Times headlines from the daily’s coverage of white, male VPs, taken from their first year in office:

• “The Education of Dan Quayle

• “Cheney Ever More Powerful As Crucial Link to Congress

• “Speaking Freely, Biden Finds Influential Role

• “Amid White House Tumult, Pence Offers Trump a Steady Hand

And then there’s the Times’ recent Harris entry: “Kamala Harris’s Allies Express Concern: Is She an Afterthought?”

In the Times’ view, the white, male VP’s were “steady hands” with “influential” roles who were busy getting an “education” and “speaking freely.” Impressive, right? Harris, the first woman VP and first person of color in that historic role, might be an “afterthought” who, according to the Times article, is “falling short” and “struggling to define herself.”

There’s nothing subtle happening here, folks.

The Times’ recent take-down of Harris was the latest from the genre, as the press piles on. The Beltway media aggressively agrees there’s something wrong with the vice president, even though she’s fulfilling her duties exactly as she’s been asked to, and has represented the United States honorably on the global stage.

Still, there’s something not quite right, the media’s theater critics agree, as they put her vice presidency under the microscope in a way that’s never been done before. It all runs counter to how the press, and specifically the Times, covered previous VPs as they navigated their first year in office.

Just take a look.

“More than any vice president before him, Mr. Cheney has emerged as a supreme power broker within the Bush administration and between the White House and Capitol Hill,” was how the Times toasted Dick Cheney’s arrival as VP in May 2001, in a puff piece that read like it was written by his communications staff: “As President Bush's consigliere, Mr. Cheney helps connect the dots for the administration as he zigzags all day long from hot-button issue to high-level meeting, discreetly imparting advice whenever his boss asks or needs to know.”

The newspaper’s Mike Pence valentine from 2017 (co-written by Maggie Haberman) was just as effusive, as the Times tried to use Pence’s role in corralling votes for the GOP’s health care initiative at the time as the centerpiece of his administration involvement. But the White House lost that vote in spectacular fashion.

Can you imagine the Beltway coverage if Harris had served as a point-person for a crucial House vote and then lost it? I guarantee you the Times wouldn’t soon run a gentle piece describing her as “an effective wingman” the way the newspaper did with Pence after the White House’s botched health care vote.

According to the Times’ telling in 2017, Pence was practically running the West Wing, “sounding out lawmakers for inside information, providing the president with tactical counsel, quietly offering policy tweaks during negotiations.” That’s because Pence possesses “shrewd political intelligence,” according to the Times reporters, who made sure to harvest lots of glowing quotes from Pence’s pals for the piece — “He’s doing exactly what he should be doing.” This, while the newspaper today portrays Harris as a possible “afterthought.”

We’ve seen this trend for decades. Soon after Dan Quayle was sworn into office, the Times swooped in with a loving profile informing readers that the 42 year-old Republican was devouring serious biographies of historical figures. “The Vice President was particularly struck by the description of Napoleon's military technique in Charles de Gaulle's discourse on war,” the Times reported, stressing Quayle was “keen on self-improvement.” And this was after Quayle had blurted out as VP, “What a waste it is to lose one's mind or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.''

For the record, the exception to the Times’ white, male VP rule was its relentlessly negative coverage of Al Gore, which began before he was even sworn into office.

Today, Harris continues to be hit with bad press — The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and “having a hard time making her mark on anything” — even though reporters can’t find substantive defects in her job performance. “Exasperation And Dysfunction: Inside Kamala Harris' Frustrating Start as Vice President,” was the shrieking CNN headline for a recent 5,000-word hit piece that failed to detail meaningful exasperation or dysfunction.

Part of the eagerly negative coverage stems from the media’s beloved Dems in Disarray storyline, where the party has to be perpetually portrayed as being undone by internal strife. It’s also fueled by the media’s need to create drama so they can present current events with a dramatic arc, as a way to keep news consumers tuned in. Reporters are frustrated by the No Drama Biden approach to governance and have taken it upon themselves to create conflict.

Harris has become a favorite prop in a way that white, male VP’s were never used in the past.

For 2024, Don't Be Too Quick To Displace Biden With Harris

The year 2022 should be too early to get into heated speculation about the Democrats' 2024 candidate for president. But since it's already begun, now would be a good time to resist arguments for making Vice President Kamala Harris the nominee.

First off, the current president, Joe Biden, has not ruled out seeking reelection. Though up in years, Biden is overseeing a functional presidency. The economy is boffo. And he got passed a desperately needed infrastructure plan that eluded his predecessor, forceful tweets notwithstanding.

Such a program, Donald Trump tweeted in March 2020, "should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country!"

So where was it?

A second term for Biden is not to be dismissed, especially if Republicans decide to choose another whack job more intent on dismantling the democracy than rebuilding roads, bridges and water systems. Or the same whack job, for that matter.

But we digress. As Biden's vice president, Harris has not done anything very objectionable, and she's brilliant in some ways. But her political skills are plainly lacking. That's why her Democratic cheering squad needs to be countered.

Harris's penchant for identity politics is both dated and political poison. Recall her performance in the first Democratic presidential debate, back in 2020, when she all but called Biden a racist for allegedly being against busing children to desegregate schools. Declaring herself "the only black person on this stage" was her claim to authority on such matters.

As it turned out, the federally mandated busing in the '70s was roundly disliked by whites and Blacks alike. She also misrepresented Biden's position. He was opposed to forced busing, not the voluntary kind. Harris later said that this was, actually, her position as well.

Harris' obvious mission was to unfairly smear a primary opponent, and the hell with Democratic solidarity. Although she self-dramatized as a member of a disadvantaged racial minority, her mother was, in fact, a medical researcher from India, and her Jamaican father was a professor of economics at Stanford University. (That Biden made her his running mate surprises me to this day.)

Even now Harris is doing the identity thing, complaining that the news coverage of her would be different if she were white and male like the other vice presidents. You don't hear that victim talk from Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina born to Indian immigrants — and possible member of the Republican ticket in 2024. The busing issue was long ago, but Republicans would undoubtedly move it front and center should Harris be the nominee.

As vice president, Harris had been tasked with addressing border issues. But when Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat representing part of the Rio Grande Valley, had staff call Harris' office to discuss her upcoming visit, no one bothered to call him back. He said that from now on, he'd go directly to the president's office to discuss problems at the border rather than the vice president's.

Harris is very much a product of the coastal liberal establishment in a party whose House leader is from San Francisco and Senate leader is from New York City. Democrats badly need voices from the rest of the country in positions of prominence. That and Harris' lack of nuance in dealing with genuinely complicated issues should prompt Democrats to look elsewhere for their next presidential candidate. All this assumes, of course, that Biden doesn't run again. He very well might.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Media Imposes A Glaring Double Standard On America's First Female Vice President

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

By any traditional measure, Vice President Kamala Harris has enjoyed a productive November:

• While President Biden went under anesthesia on Friday for the routine medical procedure, she became the first woman to assume the powers of commander in chief.

• She traveled to France and helped smooth over relations with a longtime U.S. ally.

• She took part in the public signing ceremony for the recently-passed infrastructure bill, a centerpiece of Biden’s agenda.

• She announced an historic $1.5 billion investment to help grow and diversify the nation’s health care workforce.

So why is she getting buried in bad press by the Beltway media, as they gleefully pile on? Unloading breathless, gossip-heavy coverage that is detached from reality, the press has gone sideways portraying Harris as lost and ineffective — in over her head.

It’s impossible to miss the increasingly condescending tone of the coverage, as Harris serves as the first woman vice president in U.S. history, and the first person of color to hold that position. The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and mocked her lack of political agility.

The recent frenzy of gotcha stories, which perfectly reflects petty, right-wing attacks on Harris, represents an entirely new way of covering a sitting vice president. None of the white men who previously served in that position were put under this kind of a microscope, and certainly not months into their first term. “News outlets didn’t have beat reporters who focused largely on covering Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, or Mike Pence, but they do for Harris,” the Post’s Perry Bacon noted. “Her every utterance is analyzed, her exact role in the Biden White House scrutinized.”

Worse, the premises used to support the steady drumbeat of negative, nit-picky coverage revolve around dopey optics and pointless parlor gossip. (She’s now rivals with Pete Buttigieg!)

“The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she's able to do politically,” CNN breathlessly reported this month, using that as the centerpiece for a hollow and meandering 5,000-word hit piece. (“Exasperation,” “dysfunction,” “frustrating” — and that was just CNN’s doomsday headline.) But of course, every VP in American history has likely made the same observation about feeling constrained, so as to not overshadow the president— that’s been the defining characteristic of the vice president’s office since the birth of the nation. But in 2021, it’s used as some sort of blockbuster development with Harris.

Keep in mind, Trump’s VP is most famous for being chased by a mob that wanted to hang him during a deadly insurrection. But today, Harris supposedly feeling constrained is treated as breaking news.

Politico claimed Harris has been forced out of “the national spotlight” because she’s been given so much work to do by the administration. But A) She most certainly has not been “drawn away from the national spotlight,” as compared to previous vice presidents and their visibility; B) If the administration hadn’t given her weighty issues to tackle, such as voting rights and immigration, Politico would be claiming she was being shunned.

Straining to paint her trip to France as a failure, the Washington Post pointed a single, uneventful question asked by a reporter during a press briefing as proof that her overseas foray had gone astray.

From the Associated Press: “When she delivered her speech on the infrastructure law, there was little sign of Democratic enthusiasm. The crowd of invited guests barely filled one-quarter of a local union hall.” So according to the AP, Harris gave an important policy speech but it was tagged a failure because the attendance was all wrong. The same AP report on Monday claimed, “Harris’ allies are especially frustrated that Biden seems to have limited the vice president to a low-profile role with a difficult policy portfolio.” Of course, not a single Harris ally was quoted making that claim.

Meanwhile, AP reporter Steve Peoples dinged Harris last week on Twitter, noting it had been 90 minutes since the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case had been announced and she still hadn’t issued a statement. As if the vice president is put on the clock every time a high-profile murder trial concludes.

The double standard for Harris has become impossible to ignore. “Media has been more critical of VP Harris for her image than of VP Pence for his propaganda OpEd claiming the COVID wave was a hoax as 600K+ Americans have since died,” tweeted author and attorney Qasim Rashid. “Not saying VP Harris is above criticism—but my God how low is the bar for rich white men who enable mass death?”

Part of the ceaseless critical coverage stems from the media’s beloved Dems in Disarray storyline, where the party has to be perpetually portrayed as being undone by internal strife. It’s also fueled by the media’s need to create drama so they can present current events with a dramatic arc, as a way to keep news consumers tuned in. During the Trump years there was no need to invent White House drama, since it erupted on an hourly basis on many days. But reporters are frustrated by the No Drama Biden approach to governance (the New York Times: He’s “boring”), and have taken it upon themselves to create conflict. Harris has become a favorite prop for that.

Also, note how the D.C. media career game is played. Back in June, The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris, announcing her vice presidency was a failure (“She continues to retreat behind talking points and platitudes in public”), even though she was just four months into her term. The takedown generated lots of Beltway buzz though, and Dovere was soon hired by CNN where this month he helped write … a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris.

CNN’s coverage of Harris has been relentlessly negative all year. This spring the network attacked her “defensive” behavior, questioning her “political agility,” stressing her “political missteps,” mocking her “clumsy” and “tone deaf” media performance; her “shaky handling of the politics” surrounding immigration. All of that was to condemn her successful diplomatic trip to Mexico.

Kamala Harris made history this year, the best kind. The Beltway media seems determined to treat her achievement as an opportunity to rewrite to rules on how to cover the first woman VP in a new, hyper-critical way.

Finally Vaccinated, Scalise Falsely Blames Democrats For Red-State Hesitancy

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

In case you missed it, the political race is suddenly on to point fingers over the latest coronavirus surge ripping through red states and highlighting the severely lagging vaccination rates among Republican voters in particular.

According to the White House, seven states have accounted for half of all new U.S. COVID-19 cases over the past week: Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Among that group, Florida and Texas have led the charge, contributing one-third of all new cases. The obvious trend is that nearly every one of those states is run entirely by Republicans. Louisiana is the only outlier, seating a Democratic governor while both state legislative chambers are controlled by Republicans.

Senate Republicans and some governors are now making a sudden push to rewrite history about their own party's malignant disinformation campaign on the vaccines. But some House Republicans are attempting something even more preposterous—blaming Democrats for the vaccine hesitancy and rejection that has flourished in red America.

Chief among them is GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who spent months putting off getting vaccinated before having an abrupt change of heart in late July. As the delta variant started ravaging his state, Scalise was photographed getting the jab. At a press conference several days later, he told reporters, "I would encourage people to get the vaccine. I have high confidence in it. I got it myself."

But quickly adopting a pro-vaccine posture wasn't enough for Scalise. On July 26, he posted a disinformation video claiming, "Democrats have a history of vaccine misinformation and not trusting the science."

Using sound bites from last fall—before the vaccines had even been developed—the video features then-candidate Joe Biden, his running mate, then-Sen. Kamala Harris, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressing doubts about the Trump administration's push to develop the vaccine before the November election.

At the time, Trump had become obsessed with the idea of announcing a vaccine prior to Election Day, viewing it as a cure-all for his reckless mismanagement of the pandemic.

In September, with roughly 200,000 Americans already succumbing to COVID-19, Trump started publicly pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine forthwith. As the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler recounts, on Sept. 23, Trump said the White House might even overrule the FDA if it moved too slowly on approval. Simultaneously, FDA leadership was pushing back in an effort to maintain public confidence in any vaccines that did eventually emerge. "FDA will not authorize or approve a vaccine that we would not feel comfortable giving to our families," said FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn.

Crucially, for the sake of his reelection, Trump was actively warring with the scientists charged with keeping the American public safe. It's in that context that some Democrats began to express concerns about the integrity of the approval process under Trump. But Scalise's video plucks comments made in that early fall timeframe devoid of all context.

"The first question is: Is the vaccine safe? Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion," Gov. Cuomo said at a Sept. 24 press conference.

When a vaccine finally is approved, Biden worried on Sept. 2, "Who's going to take the shot? Who's going to take the shot? Are you going to be the first one to say sign me up? They now say it's okay."

Harris, asked on Sept. 6 if she would take the shot, responded, "Well, I think that's going to be an issue for all of us. I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump."

In her vice presidential debate on Oct. 8, Harris offered, "But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I'm not taking it." What wasn't included in Scalise's disinformation montage was her preceding sentence, "If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I'll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely."

Republicans have clearly looked at their polling and realized their staunch anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-mitigation posture is a political liability. They have good reason to worry—Trump's epic mishandling of the pandemic sealed his fate in 2020. Consequently, many Republicans are pulling a complete 180 on messaging and hoping the American public will forget which party stoked doubt, fear, and even animosity toward the Biden administration's all-hands-on-deck effort to get shots in arms and restore some sense of normalcy to both the U.S. economy and American life.

Whether the GOP gaslighting works remains to be seen. But for now, most Americans know exactly which party stymied the vaccination effort, and it sure as heck wasn't Democrats.

The Beltway’s ‘Gotcha’ Media Comes For Kamala Harris

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Stepping into the role of theater critic, CNN this week panned Vice President Kamala Harris' first foreign trip, as she traveled to Guatemala and Mexico. The negative review wasn't based on the substance of Harris' diplomatic excursion, instead the network deducted points for style, following the direction set by Republicans who were dead set on giving the trip a negative slant.

Leaning heavily on Republican talking points, CNN declared the Central American visit had been marred "by her seemingly flippant answer" given during an interview with NBC News. "Republicans are using this moment to ramp up their attacks on Harris" the network announced, as if that somehow determines Harris' fate.

CNN's coverage was relentlessly negative, attacking her "defensive" behavior, questioning her "political agility," stressing her "political missteps," mocking her "clumsy" and "tone deaf" media performance; her "shaky handling of the politics" surrounding immigration.

Over and over, the CNN report stressed that because Republicans and conservatives didn't like Harris' trip, it must be considered a failure — it was a "bad week" for the VP. And all because of a single back-and-forth she had with NBC's Lester Holt, who pushed a favorite GOP talking point, repeatedly demanding to know why Harris hasn't visited the U.S. southern border — the one that the press and the GOP insist represents a "crisis."

Doubling as the Gaffe Police, CNN uniformly announced that her brief response to the border question had "overshadowed" her entire trip. But who decided it "overshadowed"? News outlets like CNN, which were busy singing off the GOP chorus, and noting how Republicans had "pounced" and "piled on" the kerfuffle. CNN insisted Harris' trip had produced "poor reviews," but CNN and Republicans were the ones producing them.

The lack of context was also telling, coming after four years of Trump and his team ransacking the norms. In light of his dangerous tenure, the Harris controversy this week about a single border question and whether she was too casual in her response, seems quaint and rather absurd. The last time Trump's vice president made news was because he was in danger of being killed in the halls of Congress by a roaming, insurrectionist mob unleashed by his boss. By contrast, Harris got hit with days of bad news coverage for possibly mishandling a policy question during a television interview. (By the way, CNN.com published a Mike Pence valentine this week.)

Would Harris likely answer Holt's question differently if given a second chance? It's possible. But the idea that her 30-second border response "overshadowed" her entire Central American trip is absurd.

Harris' foreign visit coverage was part of a larger media push recently to try to trip up the VP with Beltway gotcha coverage — her Memorial Weekend tweet was all wrong! She's hiding her Asian heritage!

This kind of eagerly negative coverage springs from a media yearning for conflict. Frustrated by the No Drama Biden era, which has been completely absent of backstage White House gossip, and the kind of daily and hourly tumult that marked the Trump years, journalists are constantly overreaching, trying to create news where none exists.

Consider this bewildering media narrative that's become commonplace in recent weeks: It's bad news for Harris that she's taking on substantive responsibilities as vice president, such as leading the administration's response to stemming the flow of migration from Central America, and organizing the Democratic fight against a slew of Republican suppression laws being passed nationwide. This bad-news VP meme has been relentless ("Is Kamala Harris Being Set Up to Fail?" Slate asked), and it defies logic. Instead of giving Harris credit for tackling the nation's tough problems, the press is preemptively dinging her for possible failures. "Harris can't win," New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently announced.

As for the role Harris has played in the administration's stunning Covid-19 vaccination success story, that mostly gets buried in the coverage of her tenure to date, as the press scrambles for missteps to highlight.

Note that a recent Atlantic profile of Harris was dripping with condescending commentary, calling her "uninteresting," "having a hard time making her mark on anything," and stressing that, "she continues to retreat behind talking points and platitudes in public, and declines many interview requests and opportunities to speak for herself." Of course, the piece was loaded with quotes from Republicans demeaning her, which appears to be the basis for most Harris coverage these days.

Last year, when Biden announced Harris as his running mate, the conservative media machine set off allegorical bomb blasts all around her, frantically trying to depict Harris as radical and dangerous, not a mainstream U.S. senator from the largest state in the union.

"In style and policy, Harris epitomizes an authoritarian," the National Review gasped. The far-right Federalist warned panicked readers that Harris, a former prosecutor, represents a "radical threat to America." And Fox News' Sean Hannity announced the Biden-Harris duo was "the most radical ticket of a political party in our lifetime by far."

The right wing loves to vilify Harris. The mainstream media fails when it treats those attacks as news.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Kamala Harris And The Worsening Job Of Vice President

Kamala Harris has been vilified by critics on the right, but the people who may end up detesting her most are not conservatives or even contemporaries. They are future vice presidents, who will curse her for loading up the office with heavy burdens.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced that she will lead the administration's charge against voting rights restrictions being devised in one red state after another. The assignment reportedly came at her request, and it's easy to picture Biden pondering the idea for 0.01 seconds before offloading the issue to her.

He had already given his veep a job that might have gone unfilled if he had invited applications: figuring out the reasons and remedies for the migration crisis at the southern border. Given that large numbers of people from Latin America have been sneaking into this country for decades, there isn't much chance Harris will find a way to dry up the flow. By now, it should be clear that unauthorized migration is not a problem that can be solved but a situation that can only be managed.

If Harris wants to keep busy, it's an ideal portfolio. But it carries extensive political risks, because any policy she offers is likely to inflame conservatives who oppose immigration, legal or illegal, or liberals who favor making it easier for foreigners to come and for those already here to stay. Most likely, she'll alienate both, no matter what she does.

A campaign against GOP measures to curtail voting won't antagonize people across the board, but it's pretty much doomed. In states where Republicans wield power, governors and legislators would no more heed Harris' recommendations than they would pierce their navels.

After Georgia passed new restrictions in April, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and Delta joined the chorus of critics denouncing them. Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver. Will Smith's film company, which had planned to shoot a movie in Georgia, pulled out. None of it mattered: The voting law stayed in place.

Likewise, opposition from American Airlines and Dell Technologies cq could not deter the Texas legislature, which was poised to approve a strict voting law until Democrats walked out to block action on the bill. But the bill will undoubtedly pass in the special session that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott plans to convene.

Nor does Harris stand much chance of persuading enough senators to support federal voting rights legislation, unless Democrats unite to scrap the filibuster. About the best she can hope for is to rouse enough public disgust with new voting restrictions to elect more Democrats in 2022 — a beastly challenge for the party in power in an off-year. But the more exposure she gets, the more Republicans will depict her as the terrifying reincarnation of Lady Macbeth.

All this represents a further transformation of an office that used to be the functional equivalent of a long vacation — or a long detention. Under most of our presidents, the vice president's job description was to get up each morning, check to see that the boss was alive and then pass the time with funerals, photo ops, and crossword puzzles. "You die, I fly," said George H.W. Bush when he was Ronald Reagan's spare tire.

The 19th-century Senate titan Daniel Webster declined an invitation to run for the office with the comment, "I do not propose to be buried until I am dead." Nelson Rockefeller, appointed by Gerald Ford in the aftermath of Richard Nixon's resignation, groused, "I never wanted to be vice president of anything." But Bob Dole, Ford's running mate in 1976, looked at the bright side: "It's indoor work and no heavy lifting."

It was Walter Mondale, under Jimmy Carter, who managed to acquire meaningful duties in the White House, and that role has grown with Al Gore, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, and Mike Pence. Harris is on course to enlarge it further.

All this will pay off should she eventually become president, by acquainting her with the impossible responsibilities that go with the office. As Barack Obama said, when "something reaches my desk, that means it's really hard. Because if it were easy, somebody else would have made the decision, and somebody else would have solved it."

And if Vice President Harris doesn't solve the problems she's been assigned, President Harris will know just the person to give them to.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.