While US President Joe Biden was taking a break at Camp David to play video games with his grandchildren, his VP Kamala Harris phoned the president of France to discuss bilateral relations, in a somewhat unusual turn of events.
According to the White House readout of the Monday call, Harris and President Emmanuel Macron of France “agreed on the need for close bilateral and multilateral cooperation to address COVID-19, climate change, and support democracy at home and around the world” as well as regional challenges such as in the Middle East and Africa “and the need to confront them together.”
Harris also thanked Macron “for his leadership on the issue of gender equality.”
While it is fairly normal for vice-presidents to participate in calls US presidents make to other world leaders, having them do the calls alone is unusual. This is at least the second time Harris has done it so far. On February 1, she phoned Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to reminisce about her high school years in Montreal, but also discuss “diversity, [Covid-19], climate change and other issues.”
Technically, Harris has only followed up on Biden’s calls – one of his first calls after the inauguration was to Trudeau, and he called Macron on January 24 – but the unusual practice coupled with existing concerns about Biden’s advanced age has raised some eyebrows among the critics of the current Democrat administration.
“Her tutor sessions with the Secretary of State must be working fast,” tweeted Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence and Trump’s envoy to Germany and the Balkans.
Had Pence been making the calls instead of Trump, all the media would have had doctors diagnosing him as mentally or physically unfit, Twitter pundit Kambree Koa pointed out, recalling the frenzy over the way Trump walked down a steep ramp at West Point.
Why is Kamala Harris taking calls with foreign leaders on behalf of Joe Biden. If Trump did that, all networks would have MD’s stating the bias case he is mentally unfit. Heck, Trump walked down slowly a steep ramp and hack media had docs diagnosing a walk. What’s going on.
— Kambree (@KamVTV) February 16, 2021
Instead, the mainstream US outlets were running stories about how Biden was resting at the Camp David presidential retreat during the long Presidents Day weekend, beating his granddaughter at the Mario Kart racing game – or profiles about the exact way he likes the Oval Office fireplace, with climate change concerns suddenly out of the picture.
President Biden has expressed a preference for a fire built in the Oval Office fireplace, and sometimes adds a log himself to keep it going.Unlike his recent predecessors, he’s more of an early-to-bed type. Here’s how Biden is settling into his new job. https://t.co/FdCGtxPXkM
— CNN (@CNN) February 15, 2021
Biden, 78, is the oldest person ever to be sworn in as US president. Harris, 56, is widely assumed to be waiting in the wings for the top job. The president himself said he was a “transition candidate,” refers to the presidency as the “Biden-Harris administration” and even joked – perhaps – that if he ever fundamentally disagreed with her on a moral principle, he’d “develop some disease and say I have to resign.”
Harris was the media-anointed front-runner in the Democratic primaries in 2019, but crashed and burned after the first debates, dropping out before any primaries were held. Biden was trailing in the early primaries as well, until his victory in South Carolina in February saw most other candidates quickly fall in line. Harris was announced as his running mate in August, and the Democrats presented her as being the first female and “person of color” (she is of Indian and Afro-Caribbean ancestry) to be within a heartbeat of the US presidency.
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