You’ve probably noticed by now that whenever Joe Biden ascends to the podium to speak, his “shadow” follows along. Kamala Harris enters a few steps behind the president and stations herself behind him and to the right. Wearing a pantsuit and with her arms fully extended and fingers laced, she looks for all the world like Biden’s henchman.
What’s the deal with this? Doesn’t the vice president have something better to do?
The Hill wrote about this bizarre arrangement at the end of the administration’s second week, claiming this “choreography is … important because of the unique nature of Biden’s presidency.” Harris is Biden’s “partner in governing,” we are told. “He knows firsthand how valuable that supporting role can be and how critical it is for the VP to be in the room.”
But Biden’s own behavior back in his VP days belie this explanation. In any event, the real reason for this clownish “choreography” in any event is divulged a few paragraphs later:
The 78-year-old president is a white man born during FDR’s presidency who defeated a slew of progressive candidates to win the Democratic nomination. Harris, who dropped out of the primary before the Iowa caucuses, balances Biden, sending the signal that his administration is also about the present and future.
Harris is on stage for the same reason Biden announced during the 2020 campaign that his running mater would be “a woman of color.” It’s all about identity politics — about optics.
For me the image conjures up a different association. I am reminded of the experience recounted by friends who were on a cruise some years ago. Several days out from port, the ship’s doctor died. For the remainder of the voyage, the ship was followed by another vessel in case of a medical emergency. At night the lights of the ship were visible in the distance, sometimes partly shrouded by fog.
Get the picture?