Kamala Harris is proving that you don’t have to be showy; sometimes, you just have to show up.
The Vice President has received criticism from the conservative news media for not being a ubiquitous public presence, as if Mike Pence was on a constant goodwill tour, but she’s handled it with her usual tact and aplomb by essentially ignoring it entirely. Focused on President Joe Biden’s mission to repair the fractured relationship between the United States and its European allies caused by their predecessors, the VP made her first overseas trip all about personal attention, not publicity stunts or awkward photo ops.
The trip also served as an opportunity for Harris to emerge onto the European diplomatic stage for the first time as Vice President, successfully playing an important foreign policy role for the Biden administration after right-wing media critics judged her harshly during her first foreign trip to Mexico and Guatemala in June.
I’m pretty sure VP has made a friend in President Macron this is my favorite picture. 🇫🇷😄 pic.twitter.com/DUDReWiL4z
— THEE Sky💛🐝 (@jedi_stark) November 12, 2021
The VP’s meeting with Macron followed the President’s, where he apologized for the mistakes made by the Trump administration’s pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, something Macron teased back on Inauguration Day.
Je salue le retour des États-Unis au sein de l'Accord de Paris pour le climat : Welcome back!
C'est tous ensemble que nous pourrons réussir à relever les défis de notre temps. C'est tous ensemble que nous pourrons changer la donne climatique en agissant pour notre planète. https://t.co/FoXYWtUWV7
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 20, 2021
The VP’s trip produced two successful agreements, expanded US-French space cooperation, and a US decision to sign onto the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, a French initiative setting rules of the road in cyberspace. The visit also gave her and Macron an opportunity to spend time one-on-one, without aides present, before sitting down for a bilateral meeting that went over time, prompting French protocol officials to enter the room three times in an effort to wrap up the meeting.
French President Emmanuel Macron greets @VP Kamala Harris at the Arc de Triomphe before a Parisian Armistice Day celebration. This very exchange was broadcast live nationally on French TV. 🇫🇷🤝🇺🇸#VeteransDay pic.twitter.com/ctzkfHBfAf
— Madam Vice President Harris is GOAT! (@flywithkamala) November 11, 2021
The Vice President’s Paris trip also included a stop at the French biomedical research Pasteur Institute, which highlighted the longstanding French-American cooperation on scientific research. It also had a personal connection for the VP: her mother had done significant scientific research there in the 1980s. She also made a somber visit to Suresnes American Cemetery, where Americans who fought and died in France during World Wars I and II are buried, a powerful reminder of the shared sacrifice between the two countries and a deeply rooted historical bond.
Our alliance with France is our oldest–and among our strongest. Today, I met with President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the shared future of our nations. pic.twitter.com/XZozGgEB9S
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) November 10, 2021
“If there is any question about the why or the what, in terms of our relationship as the United States with France, that is one visual and one concrete example of the endurance and the mutual commitment and interdependence between the United States and France,” Vice President Harris said on Friday, reflecting on her visit to the cemetery.