There she was standing at the podium during the funeral of Tyre Nichols. Vice President Kamala Harris was in Memphis — three weeks ago — representing the White House at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, where thousands came to mourn the 29-year-old young man who at least five Memphis police officers viciously beat, tasered and cursed. A beating caught on camera and so brutal that Nichols died of his injuries three days later. Vice President Harris was not scheduled to speak, but stepped to the podium to offer spontaneous remarks that were empathic and passionate command of the stage.

Nobody, including me, should have been surprised to see the vice president in her full woman-in-charge persona, but I’ll admit it felt as though I hadn’t seen her show up that way in a long time. And I miss that Kamala Harris.

That Kamala Harris is serving in the third iteration of her "first and only" roles. She was the first woman, the first Asian American and the first African American to be California’s attorney general. She was the second Black woman to be a U.S. senator, but the only one in the Senate when she served. And then at the 2021 inauguration, she assumed her biggest historic role as the first woman, Asian and African American to be vice president of the United States.

To get to this high altitude rung of the political ladder, she had to muster up Marvel she-ro superpower, Amazon warrior emotional fortitude and chess master strategy. Yet, there’s been a two years-long strident drumbeat by conservative mouthpieces questioning both her competence and leadership. I recognize the vitriol for what it is: sexist and racist.

But, with rare exception, we haven’t seen her out front demonstrating the sharp-edged political talents that made her a standout. The talents that led me — after Hillary Clinton’s defeat — to declare her the best possible hope for a woman president. To be sure, the role of vice president necessarily requires a lower profile so as not to upstage the president. However, she seems to have disappeared. The president assigned her immigration, but on his first trip to the southern border, she was not there. And while the president’s approval ratings are low, hers have plummeted. That’s left her vulnerable to speculation about her place in the administration. GBH’s Margery Eagan recently asked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren about whether the vice president should be on the Democratic ticket again should President Biden run for a second term. Sen. Warren paused before saying that decision should be left to President Biden, her pause interpreted as disapproval. The senator later insisted that she was in full support of a 2024 Biden/Harris ticket.

On the morning after the State of the Union address, Vice President Harris brushed off questions about fading to the back and instead detailed her upcoming busy agenda, including a trip to Munich for a high-level security meeting. She told CBS Gayle King that she was “doing quite well.”

Still, I’m resentful that the volume of Vice President Kamala Harris’ voice — if not silenced — has been turned down to a whisper at a time when the issues facing this country are noisy and raucous. Whether it’s her choice or a decision from on high, diminishing her role is not the way to go.