Amateur hour continues at the White House, and not just on messaging. Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris taped interviews with major news outlets just before Christmas, but apparently that’s as far as their coordination went. Pressed on the status of the filibuster and the Democrats’ push to federalize election law in the Senate, the two gave very different answers, as CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere noticed yesterday:

Actually, Harris should have already known that, as Dovere acknowledged:

This part of the Face the Nation interview has not been clipped out, but pick this up at around the 10-minute mark to grab the full context of the discussion. Kamala Harris claims that the lack of passage for SB1 will dethrone America from leadership among the democracies of the world, a laughably hyperbolic bit of demagoguery in itself. But at the same time Harris commits to doing whatever it takes to push SB1 to a vote, she pulls her punch on the filibuster:

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: … This is literally about our standing in the world, it’s about the integrity of our democracy. And I do believe of all the things that are on the headline news tonight, tomorrow, for the next week or months, when our kids look back five- ten years from now, at this moment it will be on our watch that we either stood for and fought for our democracy or not. And that I think that is all at stake right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you still have the reality of a 50-50 Senate–


MARGARET BRENNAN: –and you have two senators who say they’re not on board for changing the filibuster in order to try to push this through. So how do you overcome that democratic reality of not having the votes and not having a clear path forward?

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: And you’re right to talk about the- the structure and the rules of the Senate, and that is real. And we will do, and look at whatever is necessary to push for Congress to take this issue on. And we have to, we have to.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A carve out to the filibuster?

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that we are going to urge the United States Congress, and we have been, to examine the tools they have available to do what is necessary to fight for and retain the integrity of our voting system in America.

As Dovere points out, Biden’s been “saying that” since October. Has Harris not noticed that yet? At the very least, this amateurish contradiction shows just how poorly the White House runs its political operations.

This amateurish bungling goes beyond messaging, however. Biden’s all-in on filibuster reform and Harris’ hyperbolic framing of it raises expectations among their voters that action will somehow be taken to eliminate the opposition to SB1. Not only is that unrealistic on the filibuster, it’s unrealistic on SB1 itself. Several Senate Democrats have announced their opposition to another nuclear-option rules change on the filibuster, which is what would be required for this carve-out, likely because they have experienced all the backfire on the previous nuclear detonation by Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are hard nays on any such maneuver, which means it’s not gonna happen. And even if it did, Manchin’s made clear that he’s a no on any election reform that doesn’t have significant bipartisan support.

The smart move, politically speaking, would be to start shaping expectations accordingly on SB1 and the filibuster. It might be good politics in a normal cycle to highlight those efforts as potential payoffs in a House and Senate under firmer Democratic control, but (a) this isn’t a normal cycle, and (b) voters aren’t concerned about election reform. Joe Biden’s suffering a catastrophic collapse in confidence from voters, which has cascaded down to the entire Democratic Party, in part because his mouth keeps writing checks like this that his party’s numbers in Congress can’t cash. Also, with inflation raging, the supply-chain crisis continuing, and Biden’s “shut down the virus” pledges being exposed as empty posturing, voters have much bigger priorities than SB1 when they go to the polls next November.

For some reason, however, Biden and Harris want to keep the focus on their failures on the extremes rather than pivot long enough to score a couple of legislative wins in the middle. And they’re doing it badly enough that it’s become clear that no one’s listening to each other in the administration, let alone listen to voters. That hasn’t escaped the notice of voters either.

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