Long-time political analyst and adviser, Jamal Simmons is Kamala’s new communications director. Almost from the beginning of the Biden-Harris administration, the stories have flowed on how poorly the vice-president’s office is managed. Her staffers are fleeing. Ed wrote about the latest resignations in her office yesterday.
Enter Jamal Simmons. He is being brought in to shake things up in Kamala’s office. Back in September, two communication specialists were hired to turn around Kamala’s office and her poor working relationship with the president’s staff. One of those was Jen Psaki’s brother-in-law. At the time, they were supposed to help Kamala with the Biden border crisis and smooth the way for her expected presidential run when Biden leaves office. Have we seen any improvements in her job performance or in her messaging since then? No. If anything, she seems to be flailing and failing stronger than ever.
Simmons replaces Ashley Etienne who left last year. He is a political analyst appearing on CNN, MSNBC, and other networks. Simmons is said to be widely respected by Democrats. He has been involved in national politics since the Clinton administration. He served as deputy communications director for the Gore presidential campaign. Simmons was an aide to former Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) and chief of staff for former Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan. He also served as an aide for failed Democrat presidential candidate Wesley Clark.
Matt McKenna, who served as a longtime adviser to former President Bill Clinton and has known Simmons for more than 20 years, said he has the right skill set for the job.
“What impressed me about him back then — and something he is only better at today — was his ability to not just listen to everyone in the room but his ability to have the right people in the room every time, even if it didn’t seem like it first glance,” McKenna said. “Vice President Harris is very lucky to have him.”
Karen Finney, a longtime Democratic strategist and commentator, said bringing Simmons into the vice president’s office is “an excellent move for a host of reasons.”
“Jamal has a unique array of expertise that will be invaluable to the vice president and the White House,” Finney said. “Having worked in media, working as a consultant, he’s done campaigns, he’s worked on the Hill. He’s a seasoned communicator and his professional career is very diverse and he has a unique expertise that he brings. It gives him a lot of resources to draw upon.”
We’ll see what his previous experience brings to Kamala’s office. Is it enough to save her? It seems to me that as long as Kamala continues to rely on her old friend Tina Flournoy, her chief of staff, office tension and difficulties for staff will continue. Flournoy is often pointed to as the source of the problems in Kamala’s office. Last year Politico reported that Flournoy created an insular environment for Kamala, much to her detriment. She dismisses ideas from others and is quick to throw staff under the bus when things go wrong. It’s hard to imagine any real change will come as long as she’s running the office.
Simmons comes with his own baggage. Simmons used to do a political tv show for The Hill. During the presidential primary, he mocked Biden for his habit of telling made-up personal stories. The segment was titled ‘Dazed and Confused’.
Incoming Kamala Harris communications aide Jamal Simmons once ridiculed Joe Biden after the then-candidate conflated multiple stories while telling a story about a trip he took to Afghanistan.
Simmons, a prominent Democratic aide and TV commentator, mocked Biden for the gaffe during an episode of his politics show for The Hill called ‘Why You Should Care.’
‘We do this story about once a week!’ he quipped. ‘It’s what you get with Uncle Joe.’
He told of how Biden at a town hall had ‘conflated’ multiple stories from a trip to Afghanistan. It turned out Biden got the timing wrong, the province wrong, along with key details – the story was about an Army soldier, not a Navy captain.
‘This is the God’s truth, he says. “My word as a Biden.” Turns out, it wasn’t God’s truth,’ Simmons says to the camera.
Simmons also criticized Kamala during the presidential primary when she suspended her campaign.
Simmons also critiqued Harris’ run for president after she suspended her campaign, saying she ‘pulled back in these very key moments.
He said she ‘never quite got comfortable getting out of the pre-planned moments,’ and criticized how she failed to capitalize on her early bussing attack on Biden, in another clip unearthed by Fox News. He said she also botched her handling of the fraught issue of Medicare for All during the primary.
And, there is this tweet from September 2020 where he calls the COVID-19 vaccines “janky” because they were developed during the Trump administration.
Trump’s fatally ill-managed Coronavirus response seems to have turned voters off to him the way Katrina destroyed Bush’s political reputation, but pushing a janky science vaccine into the public for political purposes would turn incompetent culpability into intentional harm.
— Jamal Simmons (@JamalSimmons) September 3, 2020
That’s a little awkward now since Kamala and Joe Biden continually remind Americans to get vaccinated. I guess the vaccines aren’t janky now that Biden’s the president. You’ll also remember that both Biden and Kamala initially refused to get the vaccines while Trump was in office. It was never about the science for them and other Democrats. It was always about politics. Joe Biden will never be able to match the success of Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. That is Trump’s real legacy.
Kamala isn’t up to the job of vice-president. She doesn’t have it in her to do the work. Simmons won’t be able to finesse that. We’ll see how long this hire lasts in her office.