The jokes seemed to write themselves last week after the Biden administration announced Vice President Kamala Harris, known for her vapid word salad speeches and obvious gaslighting, would now run point on artificial intelligence. Even I jumped in on the action, noting on FOX Business that Harris was more associated with the word "artificial" than the word "intelligence."
All joking aside, the future of AI technology is a serious issue. With her approval ratings in the toilet and President Biden showing obvious signs of age-related decline, Kamala Harris (and by that I mean the Democratic Party) urgently needs a way to rehabilitate her historically unpopular image ahead of the 2024 presidential race. This is not the way.
On this issue, like so many before it, Harris is out of her depth. Her past attempts to talk about complicated policy issues often sound like they’ve been dumbed down for a kindergarten audience. Her incoherent speeches have repeatedly gone viral. It’s not just Greg Gutfeld getting mileage out of Harris’ viral gaffes and ramblings.
Her poll numbers reflect voter concerns that she simply hasn’t performed well in her job. Having already fared poorly in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, earning zero delegate support, Harris is even less popular now. She has a net negative favorability rating as vice president. Her home state newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, reported last week that 53% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of Harris, for a net negative of -12 percentage points.
Beyond concerns about her lack of depth are even more serious questions about her integrity. The American people simply do not trust her. Beyond the revolving door of unhappy Harris staffers and allegations of a negative work environment, Harris’ dishonest assessment of the border problem is still fresh on voters’ minds.
In September 2022, as a record 2 million people were crossing our borders and drug cartels were expanding their profitable trafficking and fentanyl operations, Harris twice told an incredulous Chuck Todd on NBC that, "the border is secure." Of course, at that point, she hadn’t bothered to even go there.
Border security is a problem that has gotten exponentially worse on her watch. But given that a Biden victory may very well depend on raising Harris’ poll numbers, it’s safe to assume this latest assignment is simply a political move intended to boost her popularity.
Just last month, Bloomberg’s Julianna Goldman offered a helpful suggestion published in the administration-friendly Washington Post. "One way to boost Harris would be through her policy portfolio, to put her in charge of an important issue beyond immigration or abortion," Goldman wrote, referencing Democratic strategists who suggested Harris would need to "own it" and "show some progress."
It looks like the Biden administration reached the same conclusion. They seem to believe all of Harris’ problems with the public are simply a reflection of voters’ inherent racism and sexism, as former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain has claimed. Or that she just hasn’t gotten credit for the things she’s done.
But Biden may rue the day he tapped Harris for this important responsibility. Like the albatross of her failure as the nation’s border czar, this assignment is fraught with risk, not just for voters, but for the administration.
The complexity and the stakes involved in this rapidly advancing technology call for a deep thinker, not a party loyalist. The president needs to treat this like the important issue that it is. The American people deserve more than the perfunctory lip service and agenda-driven gaslighting Harris is likely to give it.
Artificial intelligence technology poses serious risks to the economy. It is a threat to cybersecurity. It may force fundamental change to our business models and job markets. It’s not an artificial election-year ornament to be draped around the person whose poll numbers need a boost.
By shining this light on Harris, the administration hopes to convince a skeptical public that Harris is ready to take over for the oldest president in history if needed. But if these attempts to make Harris look intelligent actually are artificial, they risk proving just the opposite.