New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman proposed Rep. Liz Cheney via an elaborate comparison with Israel’s coalition government—a comparison that completely fails on the most basic point since Israel has a completely different system of government than the U.S., one in which a coalition government is actually a thing. The U.S. system is not built to accommodate that, so the effect of floating it is simply to put “Biden-Cheney” out there in the political discourse as a reasonable idea even as the entire basis for the proposal is fraudulent.
It’s fraudulent, also, because Friedman’s premise in the U.S. context is that Cheney could somehow bring along enough Republicans to overwhelm the vast majority of her party that’s dedicated to Donald Trump’s Big Lie, whether out of loyalty to Trump or a simple desire to steal elections now that he’s shown them it could work with enough planning. There is no evidence that this is true.
The column suggesting that Biden ditch Harris for Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Republican governor? That was a joking criticism of Friedman’s column. But this was not a joke:
The Today Show had the vice president sit down for an interview and asked her about a New York Times columnist’s inane clickbait proposal for something that could not work for several reasons—even if it was desirable for a rather old president to have a vice president with politics diametrically opposed to his own—and that was grounded in absolutely nothing. There have been no high-profile rumors from actual Biden sources that Biden is thinking about replacing Harris. There has only been speculation from media predators.
That speculation about 2024 has followed repeated rounds of attacks on Harris. There was her trip to France, during which she dared to buy some nice but not outlandishly expensive cookware with her own money, a major scandal for a hot second. Also on that trip to France, Harris came under attack from the likes of Sean Hannity for supposedly using a French accent, which she did not, and then a Bloomberg News reporter piggybacked on that to make an issue of how Harris pronounced the word “the.”
Before that, and since, there have been multiple rounds of rumors and gossipy reports on how Harris interacts with her staff, and a huge amount of recent coverage of some staff turnover in Harris’ office. There was bizarre coverage of complaints from donors and the like finding that it was harder to get access to the vice president than it had been to the attorney general of California or a U.S. senator.
Mike Pence spent four years publicly fawning over Trump in the most embarrassing way possible, got edged out of pandemic response by Jared freaking Kushner, stayed at a Trump hotel 180 miles from his official meetings on a trip to Ireland, and took part in stupid political stunts like leaving a football game because the players—as he knew they would—engaged in silent, respectful protest. And he was not immune to his own staff shakeups. His first chief of staff left the role after less than six months. Three more top staffers left before his first year in office was up. Somehow, these departures did not draw half the attention that departures from Harris’ office have.
Now, Pence was continually overshadowed by the four-year dumpster fire in the White House, and for that matter Trump got better coverage than Biden, relatively speaking. But there is also, 100%, no contest, an offensive amount of extra scrutiny and criticism applied to Harris because she is the first woman vice president and the first Black vice president and the first Asian American vice president. Harris is being hit with a toxic combination of sexism and racism and the media’s established tendency to defer to Republicans while trashing Democrats. It’s staggering to see how prevalent all three of those strains remain in media coverage in the year 2022.