VP Kamala Harris admits a ‘level of malaise’ in US over COVID, gets compared to Jimmy Carter

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Vice President Kamala Harris admitted in an interview on Thursday that there is a “level of malaise” among Americans as the country faces a new surge in COVID-19 cases.

Harris’ interview on PBS’ “News Hour” focused on the anniversary of the Capitol riot. Judy Woodruff, the anchor, also asked the vice president about President Biden’s stalled agenda.

Harris identified what she sees as a success since Biden first took office, including the creation of six million new jobs in 2020 and the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that was signed into law back in November.

She expressed frustration with the virus as it entered its second year and said she fully appreciates that there is a level of “malaise” in the country but said the country needs to be ready to meet the challenges.

Vice President Kamala Harris arrives to swear in Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, U.S. ambassador to Spain, in the Vice Presidents Ceremonial Office in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2022. Photographer: Pete Marovich/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Pete Marovich/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Republican National Committee seized on Harris’ comment and retweeted the video clip. The Biden administration has faced new criticism about testing shortages and detractors have pointed to his 2020 vow to “shut down the virus.”

Former President Jimmy Carter is often tied to his 1979 “malaise” speech he delivered while the country was facing an energy crisis, high inflation and a lagging economy.

Children 12-15 years old receive a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine booster at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut on January 6, 2022. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
(JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Carter told the country that the threat to American democracy was “nearly invisible in ordinary ways.”

“It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will,” Carter said. 

The speech was well-received at the time. 

Ezra Klein wrote in the Washington Post that Carter’s speech was embraced at the time, but pointed out that Kevin Mattson, the historian, said the problems for Carter began when he decided to fire his staff a short time after its delivery.

Klein quoted Mattson, “Just two days after July 15, Carter fired his Cabinet, signifying a governmental meltdown. The president’s poll numbers sank again as confusion and disarray took over. Carter could give a great speech, but there were two things he couldn’t manage: to govern well enough to make his language buoy him or to find a way to yoke the energy crisis with concrete civic re-engagement initiatives.”

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