VP’s political decline labeled ‘slow Greek tragedy’ in new book

A senator close to Vice President Harris has lamented his political decline as a “slow Greek tragedy,” write New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns in “This Will Not Pass,” their book, which will be released May 3.

Why is this important: Republicans secured the first titles for the book, which the authors call “an account of a political emergency in the United States.” But the first year of the Biden presidency has also been a turbulent one for the White House and Democrats.

“The Vice President had one vocal and adamant defender in the West Wing: the president’s chief of staff,” the authors write. But even Ron Klein knew something was wrong.

  • The book says he told Harris in the fall of 2021 “that she had made a mistake in keeping her mission in Latin America at bay: yes, he acknowledged, it was a politically sensitive portfolio, but here was an opportunity for her to take full ownership of something, delve into the details of politics and deliver results.
  • That, Klain told Harris, was the way to success as vice president.”

Other report on Biden of the book, which is based on hundreds of interviews and “hundreds of pages of confidential documents and recordings”:

“These guys”: After delivering a national unity speech at Gettysburg in the final month of the campaign, Biden made a similar plea from Warm Springs, Georgia, home of FDR’s Little White House. Speaking to historian Jon Meacham, Biden expressed concern “about inviting bimonthly comparisons with America’s greatest leaders.”

  • “I’m not one of those guys,” Biden said. Meacham replied, “Nor were they, until they were.”

POTUS takes notes: “Al Sharpton pushed Biden on the filibuster, telling the president that if the procedural roadblock remained in place, Democrats would suffer midterm. Biden took painstaking notes, but he and his aides were evasive.”

  • “So what was left for civil rights groups when they left the White House? Like so many other visitors to the White House in 2021, they garnered praise from the President on the importance of their constituency.”
  • “Biden again hailed the role of black voters in his campaign… [saying] Black women were the reason he occupied the Oval Office. It was a flattering and sincere feeling. But flattery wouldn’t protect the franchise.”

Aging Pitcher: When Biden addressed House Dems on Capitol Hill on Oct. 1, with infrastructure and reconciliation bills at stake, they “were prepared for a moment of political climax. … [But Biden] had decided [that] was not the day to demand a vote. … The President shared a story about Satchel Paige, the legendary black pitcher who played baseball until his 40s…

  • “Paige, Biden said, had already been asked about her ability to play at such an old age. … ‘How old would you be’, [Paige] supposedly asked, ‘if you didn’t know how old you were?’ It was unclear what message Biden intended to convey with this story. … Biden’s thread about an aging pitcher wasn’t entirely reassuring.”

The Begala Zinger: In the fall of 2021, “prominent Democratic strategist Paul Begala reached out to Klain…The president, Begala said, was too Olympian, too inclined to put himself above the partisan fray…Offering Klain a line of attack ready, Begala Biden offered to tell Americans that Republicans “fear Trump more than they care about you.”

  • “It was an easy-to-imagine flowing line coming from Begala’s most famous client, Bill Clinton. Well, Klain replied, that approach is not this president’s comfort zone. It’s not his brand. .”

Go further: The McCarthy tapes.

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