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Vice President Kamala Harris’ Charm Offensive Turned Mostly Offensive

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Awkward.

“And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making,” she said, trying to recover. “I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”

Maybe not, but she sounded like she was.

Sure, visiting the border, one of former President Donald Trump’s signature issues in 2016 as if it were a divine rite of passage, is more of a symbolic gesture than substantive policy change. But in politics, performance matters. Harris should at least have been better prepared for the question, instead of adding fuel to her appearance of being poorly briefed.

Let’s be candid. I’m a lot closer to Harris’ and President Joe Biden’s positions than I am to former President Donald Trump on immigration and almost every other issue.

But that only makes me all the more frustrated when I see the current veep display the same tone deafness that too often has caused other rising Democrats to lose touch with what’s really troubling the mostly white working-class and middle-class GOP base that used to be a lot more receptive to Democrats.

Immigration has become a defining issue for both parties in much the same way that the two parties differ on other issues, such as domestic crime and poverty. The right prioritizes law and order while the left emphasizes root causes.

In fact, both challenges need to be met. But in today’s hyperpolarized political atmosphere, seldom do solutions come together to jointly confront the problems.

 

Instead, our government is so deeply divided that a flip of party control in Washington — beginning perhaps with next year’s midterm elections — could bring a reversal on Biden’s efforts to bring a more humane policy than what Trump left behind.

Vice President Harris should be sufficiently chastened by her experience on the road to do better next time she’s in the spotlight. Much still needs to be done in improving border security and our rechanneling of aid to Central America through nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations, instead of corrupt regimes.

But to make that sale, Harris and the rest of Team Biden need to come up with more clear and succinct assurances to dispel the partisan fearmongering that only further divides us.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

©2021 Clarence Page. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(c) 2021 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

 

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