Americans are used to President Joe Biden making one gaffe after another, but so, too, are aides to Vice President Kamala Harris.
The famously unprepared Harris did so again over the weekend, leaving aides and the White House scrambling to provide her some air support and ground cover.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Harris claimed that the administration had no idea the various COVID variants were coming.
“We didn’t see delta coming. I think most scientists did not — upon whose advice and direction we have relied — didn’t see delta coming,” Harris told the paper in an interview published on Friday.
“We didn’t see omicron coming. And that’s the nature of what this, this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants.”
Continuing, Harris added that while she gets it that Americans want to go back to their daily lives, “one of the concerns that I have is the undiagnosed and untreated trauma at various degrees that everyone has experienced” due to lockdowns.
“I don’t think that in any regard anyone can claim victory when, you know, there are 800,000 people who are dead because of this virus,” she said.
“The biggest threat still to the American people is the threat to the unvaccinated. And most people who believe in the efficacy of the vaccine and the seriousness of the virus have been vaccinated,” she said. “That troubles me deeply.”
The gaffe left her staff and the rest of the White House scrambling.
“The Vice President’s comments referred to the exact kind of mutation,” one of Harris’ advisers noted in a statement. “The administration knew mutations were possible, it [is] the reason we ordered extra tests, extra gear and extra PPE.”
“It is the reason the President, Vice President and our entire administration warned early and often that the best way to get on the other side of the pandemic is to get vaccinated,” the White House added. “We were and continue to be prepared.”
Wait, what? Infectious disease experts have said for well over a year that covid would become endemic with many new variants…Biden admin in the dark about the obvious 🤡🌎 https://t.co/8qkcpvSTD3
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) December 18, 2021
Omicron… Taliban.. inflation.. whichever. https://t.co/V22YDhBo2p
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) December 18, 2021
This quote is even worse than the headline suggests because the rest of the quote illustrates that she’s trying to blame their failures on the advice they got from scientists. https://t.co/Qf5lbm2wKp
— Greg Lipper (@theglipper) December 18, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s chief medical adviser, also made it clear in an interview Sunday with CNN’s Jake Tapper that yes, indeed, the administration saw all the variants coming.
“We did Jake, we definitely saw variants coming,” Fauci said. “I think we referred to what was not anticipated was the extent of the mutations and the amino acid substitutions in Omicron, which is really unprecedented.”
“That’s something you would not have anticipated, but we certainly were anticipating that there were going to be variants,” he continued. “When you have so much replication going on in the community, if you give a virus enough opportunity to replicate, you know it’s going to ultimately mutate. And sometimes those mutations wind up being a new variant. That’s exactly what happened with Delta and certainly, that’s what happened with Omicron.”
But let’s call this what it is on Harris part: Incompetence, plain and simple.
Harris is enamored with being vice president and, in this case, a hair’s breadth away from being president; she just doesn’t want to put in the work to be a good vice president or president. It’s all about being in the White House, not doing anything constructive, as critics have pointed out.
“The good thing about having been killed is nobody expects anything from you because you’re dead,” wrote Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan earlier this month, laying out the “good news.”
“Expectations are low” of her, Noonan continued.
“She loves the politics of politics too much, and not the meaning. When people meet with her they come away saying that what she cares about is the politics of the issue, not the issue itself,” Noonan said.
“But even as she’s obsessed with the game of national politics she’s not so far particularly good at it. When she sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, she spectacularly flamed out,” she continued.
As for policy, maybe if Harris read her briefing books she’d know more about any subject she tries to discuss.
“To do this Ms. Harris would have to decide to become serious—to inform and immerse herself, meet with party thinkers, study her briefing books,” Noonan wrote. “Her current strategy, to the extent it exists, appears to rely on her sense of her own personal charisma—delighted laughter, attempts to connect personally, to convey zest.”