On Friday, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was welcomed to the White House as part of the first diplomatic summit of Joe Biden’s presidency — but Biden was not the one to welcome him to the United States.
Instead, Suga was greeted by Vice President Kamala Harris.
“The president and I are very excited about the conversations we will have with the prime minister today,” Harris said.
“As you know Mr. Prime Minister, you and I met just about a month ago during the Quad Summit, which was a meeting with the United States with our allies Japan with Australia and with India, where we had extensive conversations about a collaboration and a friendship around some of the biggest challenges facing our world.”
The strange, awkward greeting was met with alarm from Cutis Houck, the managing editor of NewsBusters, who tweeted that “If Vice President Pence welcomed and then showed the head of a major U.S. ally and global power around the White House and not President Trump, CNN and MSNBC would have melted down and insisted something was wrong with him.”
“But with Harris doing it for Joe, it’s NBD for journos,” he added.
If Vice President Pence welcomed and then showed the head of a major U.S. ally and global power around the White House and not President Trump, CNN and MSNBC would have melted down and insisted something was wrong with him.
But with Harris doing it for Joe, it's NBD for journos. pic.twitter.com/wKleOfAi5X
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) April 16, 2021
Many of Houck’s followers agreed with his assessment. Their complaints ranged from the potential for disrespect, to the apparent aloofness of Biden to the hypocrisy of the mainstream media:
There would be medical "experts" on CNN diagnosing Trump
— Fusilli Spock (@awstar11) April 16, 2021
It is a wonder that the Japanese do not feel this is an insult. As a matter of fact, I would be very surprised if they did not.
— JessBlane1122 (@blane1122) April 16, 2021
This is ridiculous! How utterly dismissive of the Japanese leadership to not be welcomed by our current president.
— knitwise (@knitwise2) April 16, 2021
Sadly — but not surprisingly — this isn’t even the first time that Kamala Harris has unofficially assumed Biden’s role when it comes to foreign policy. In February, news broke that Harris had been taking calls from foreign leaders, including an extremely important one from French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Vice President Kamala Harris spoke today with President Emmanuel Macron of France, and expressed her commitment to strengthening bilateral ties between the United States and France and to revitalizing the transatlantic alliance,” a subsequent White House statement said.
“Vice President Harris and President Macron 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. They also discussed numerous regional challenges, including those in the Middle East and Africa, and the need to confront them together.
“The Vice President thanked President Macron for his leadership on the issue of gender equality and for France’s contribution to NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.”
Macron isn’t the only one. Harris participated in a bilateral summit with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau — which is unusual for a vice president.
She also took a call from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and had a conversation with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway.
The involvement of Vice President Harris in Biden’s foreign policy is unusually extensive, which is alarming as she does not have previous foreign policy experience.
This isn’t the integration of a competent administrator, this is preparation for a Harris presidency — a prospect that no American should look forward to.