The White House ‘Goes There’ on Criticism of Kamala Harris and I Have Thoughts

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

As we previously reported, embattled Vice President Kamala Harris is being hit with yet another wave of bad press, with even CNN getting in on the action by reporting how Biden staffers were allegedly growing increasingly frustrated with Harris. In addition to that are reports of an alleged rift between President Biden and Harris, which is said to be growing even as the lame excuses for it all are brought forth.

Making matters worse has been her disastrous handling of the border crisis, of which she was made Biden’s point person back in March. Perhaps more embarrassingly, during an exchange between Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and DHS Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas yesterday on the working relationship between himself and Harris, Mayorkas couldn’t give specific answers on what her exact role was, how many times they’d connected/met to discuss the border, and if she had been part of the decision-making process on policy decisions Mayorkas had either been considering or had implemented in response to the border surge.

Criticism of Harris’ performance in office has unquestionably come from both sides of the aisle and from both current and former staffers of Harris. But if one listened to and believed what White House press secretary Jen Psaki had to say about it during a Wednesday interview, you’d think all the criticism was coming from the right. And the reasons she gave for that “right-wing” criticism boiled down to – you guessed it – “sexism and racism”:

During a livestreamed event hosted by Politico’s Women Rule Exchange, Politico senior editor Anita Kumar asked Psaki if she felt Harris was receiving more criticism because she is the first woman and first woman of color to serve as vice president.

“Yes,” Psaki answered, before adding: “Criticism from the outside, absolutely.

“I do think that it has been easier, and harsher, from some in the right wing who have gone after her because she is the first woman, the first woman of color,” the press secretary added. “I’m not suggesting anyone will acknowledge that publicly, but I think there’s no question that the type of attacks — the attacks on her that certainly, being the first she is many times over, is part of that.”

Watch:

First, let me start off by pointing out that what the reporter did there was to purposely ask a very leading question, to which Psaki responded accordingly in an answer she probably could recite in her sleep.

But more importantly, from the perspective of a woman who has heard this excuse uttered over and over again as a default response to legitimate criticisms of female politicians, the answer was tiresome, trite, and has little basis in reality – not to mention the fact that it’s insulting as hell to other women out there who have had a lot of negative things to say about Harris, none of which have anything to do with “sexism.”

Same with the “racism” accusation. Though I’m white, there are plenty of black men and women out there who have something to say about Harris, with none of it being good, and every single bit of it justifiable and deserved. She’s just not good at what she does at all, and it shows with every move she makes, every word she speaks – whether scripted or not.

The vast (99%) majority of criticism directed at Harris by conservatives would be directed at a white man as well if he was in the vice president’s position. Indeed, Joe Biden is quite literally evidence of that very fact, as he was heavily criticized when he was former President Obama’s vice president much the same as he’s being criticized now, although now it’s at an elevated level because obviously, he’s in a much higher position.

As I’ve said before, we’re close to reaching a point in this country where the only thing people will be allowed to say about women without being accused of “sexism” is that they are strong and independent and fierce. And I have no doubt that the fear of being slapped with the sexism or racism label has undoubtedly already led to people intentionally refraining from criticizing women of color in positions of power like Harris because they just don’t want to deal with the inevitable fallout (attempted cancellation?) that oftentimes comes with it.

That’s not good for women and persons of color at all, especially the vast majority who want to be judged by the content of their character and their qualifications and performance, not on their physical and cultural characteristics.

A lot has changed for women and people of color in a good way over the course of America’s existence because there were brave people who were willing to take a stand. And to be sure, there is still a fair amount of sexism and racism to overcome, and which should be condemned unequivocally. But some positions are ridiculous and counterproductive and, in my opinion, set them back a few decades. Declaring legitimate criticisms of the black, female Vice President of the United States as “sexist” and “racist” just because you don’t like the criticism is one of those (very dangerous, in my view) positions.

Women and persons of color are never going to be fully seen as equals in our society unless they learn to take their (rhetorical) lumps the same as the white men do, and to stop defaulting to the “sexism” and “racism” cards just because they feel slighted.

Enough already. It’s time for women and POC to pull up their big girl panties/undies and get to work smashing stereotypes, including the ones that say they must clutch pearls and reach for the fainting couches everytime someone disagrees with them.

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