This month, Kamala Harris will lose her chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, her communications chief, Ashley Etienne, and two other staffers who, according to the Washington Post, “help shape the president’s public image.” Their resignations themselves will help shape, or rather reinforce, Harris’ image.
The Post describes that image this way:
[T]he quartet of soon-to-be-empty desks reignited questions about why Harris churns through top-level Democratic staff, an issue that has colored her nearly 18 years in public service, including her historic but uneven first year as vice president. Now, those questions about her management extend to whether it will hamper her ability to seek and manage the presidency.
Critics scattered over two decades point to an inconsistent and at times degrading principal who burns through seasoned staff members who have succeeded in other demanding, high-profile positions. People used to putting aside missteps, sacrificing sleep and enduring the occasional tirade from an irate boss say doing so under Harris can be particularly difficult, as she has struggled to make progress on her vice-presidential portfolio or measure up to the potential that has many pegging her as the future of the Democratic Party.
“One of the things we’ve said in our little text groups among each other is what is the common denominator through all this and it’s her,” said Gil Duran, a former Democratic strategist and aide to Harris who quit after five months working for her in 2013. In a recent column, he said she’s repeating “the same old destructive patterns.”
“Who are the next talented people you’re going to bring in and burn through and then have (them) pretend they’re retiring for positive reasons”. . . .
According to the Post, “Harris’ defenders say the criticism against her is often steeped in the same racism and sexism that have followed a woman who has been a first in every job she’s done over the past two decades.” They can say that, but racism and sexism aren’t plausible explanations for the unusual churn of her staff during the past 18 years. A goodly portion of those who have fled from Harris are women, and it’s unlikely that a racist would agree to work for black female.
Defenders also suggests that criticism of Harris is due in part to the fact that she is (or was) the heir apparent to a doddering (my way of putting it) president. This might explain some of the criticism, but again, it can’t explain why so many have resigned from Harris’ staff after less than a year. Working for an heir apparent to the president is normally a highly desirable gig.
But let’s return to the “sexism” dodge. A longtime Harris staffer who hasn’t resigned served up this gem:
Has [Harris] called bulls—? Yes. And does that make people uncomfortable sometimes? Yes. But if she were a man with her management style, she would have a TV show called ‘The Apprentice.’”
I wonder what Harris will say (and how she will say it) to a staffer who publicly defended her management style by comparing it to Donald Trump’s. I think that’s what is called an admission against interest, especially for a Democrat.
After the Post’s article, critics of Harris’ personality and management style can rest their case.