Actually, it’s a series of tweets, but one particular observation from The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel sticks out—and it’s a brutal one. I mean, do these liberal media types not know that we can harness the power of Google? These publications have archives like the rest of us. And there is a trove of articles about the collapse of Kamala Harris’ 2020 run. It wasn’t a little car crash either. It was a thermonuclear explosion. She was wiped out before the California primary. She had no message, no plan, and an organization that was rudderless. It was a s**t show. Yet, now that Joe Biden has decided to pick her, though she was not his first choice, Harris has undergone this rebirth as some master tactician and campaign ace who will inject steroids into the Democrats’ 2020 hopes. Really?
Here’s the observation Strassel noted that’s both true and damning:
Everyone from Julian Castro to Cory Booker to Deval Patrick to Tulsi Gabbard to Elizabeth Warren to Pete Buttigieg, to Amy Klobuchar to Andrew Yang to Tom Steyer to Michael Bennet had more appeal and staying power than Harris. But now we are told she is unbeatable?
The NYT last year as Harris dropped out, describing her "unraveled" campaign and explaining her aides had become “given to gallows humor about just how many slogans and one-liners she has cycled through.”— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) August 14, 2020
A SanFran newspaper reporting that Saturday Night Live was mocking her for her “ ‘viral moments’ desperation.”— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) August 14, 2020
A letter leaked in November 2019 from her veteran Iowa operations manager, resigning, saying she'd “never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly” and expressing dismay at its ability to make “the same unforced errors over and over.”— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) August 14, 2020
This is the veep pick who is today being described as vetted, seasoned, awesome, masterful, etc. Harris ended her bid--broke, with tanked poll numbers-- two months before Iowa caucuses. The only person to flame earlier, more spectacularly, was Beto.— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) August 14, 2020
Everyone from Julian Castro to Cory Booker to Deval Patrick to Tulsi Gabbard to Elizabeth Warren to Pete Buttigieg, to Amy Klobuchar to Andrew Yang to Tom Steyer to Michael Bennet had more appeal and staying power than Harris. But now we are told she is unbeatable?— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) August 14, 2020
I am open to seeing what Harris might bring to the ticket. But let’s all start from the same memory of her very botched presidential run. That was the first real contest she ever had to engage in (she benefited from party patronage up to then) and let’s acknowledge the mess.— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) August 14, 2020
Yet, while Strassel notes how Harris is an unremarkable VP pick, could that be also to her advantage? Just playing devil’s advocate here, when you can’t pin down your opponent and define her in an election, isn’t that a problem? Maybe. Though, I would say her opening speech when she was first introduced shows a person who cannot go off-script. The speech was terrible to start, loaded with inaccuracies and lies about the Trump White House, and was entirely predictable. It was as if the entire production staff of MSNBC jotted down the annotations.
Strassel added that now more than ever, Harris will be put under the microscope due to Biden’s apparent mental degradation and her “do no harm” checkbox that she supposedly filled when the Biden camp was forced to pick her. This could open up the Democratic ticket to what engulfed her first campaign: total disaster (via WSJ):
If commentators are now struggling to define Ms. Harris, it’s because she offers little that is truly defining. The party establishment quickly closed ranks around her 2016 Senate race, allowing her to run a standard liberal campaign that the Los Angeles Times described as “carefully orchestrated” and “overly cautious and scripted.” In her 3½ Senate years, she’s done little by way of legislation, preferring to showboat at hearings. The lack of an animating agenda helps a explain a presidential campaign in which she bounced from left to far-left position, whatever she thought most helpful at the moment. She twice called to eliminate private health insurance—and twice reversed herself the next day after backlash. As Vox noted, the “combination of policy reversals and botched rollout . . . undermined faith in her ability to govern on the issue Democrats rate as most important.”
The campaign was a mess, rocked by infighting, leaks, restarts and financial problems. After the campaign announced layoffs in early November, its veteran Iowa operations manager wrote a scathing resignation letter in which she said she’d “never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly” and expressed dismay at its ability to make “the same unforced errors over and over.” Ms. Harris didn’t even make it to the first contest, dropping out—broke and with embarrassing poll numbers—two months before the Iowa caucuses. The only other “top tier” candidate to implode as quickly or spectacularly was Beto O’Rourke. The Washington Post campaign obituary bluntly called Ms. Harris an “uneven campaigner” who was “engulfed by low polling numbers, internal turmoil and a sense that she was unable to provide a clear message.” The Post this week lauded Ms. Harris as “vibrant and energetic” and a “vessel for Democratic hopes.”
Biden watchers insist the nominee fulfilled the cardinal rule of veep picks: First, do no harm. Possibly, but it’s pretty clear it did no good either. Mr. Biden’s biggest concern remains his lagging enthusiasm numbers. Polls consistently show the majority of Democratic voters notably unexcited about his candidacy. One fix would have been a running mate hailed as a fresh and rising Democratic star. Ms. Harris has alienated key elements of her party, in particular progressives who despise her as a “top cop” from her six years as California’s attorney general. In a poll this week by the Economist/YouGov, Ms. Harris was viewed favorably by only half of African-Americans and very favorably by only 26% of liberals. Will that keep people from pulling a Biden-Harris lever? Maybe not, but she won’t likely be a poll driver.
And there’s still a possibility she’ll do harm. Mr. Biden’s age and questions about his mental acuity guarantee an outsize focus on his running mate, who could end up president. Ms. Harris’s own presidential run proves she has a propensity to make mistakes—potentially big ones. The Trump campaign is eager to define her as a Bernie Sanders liberal, and she’s got a track record that helps—having endorsed Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and gun bans. Many Americans will also remember her leading role in the character assassination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, matched only in political theater by Cory “Spartacus” Booker. This has the potential to turn off some suburban and independent voters. Even if they don’t rush into Mr. Trump’s arms; they may simply not vote.
There’s a lot of hype here—no doubt. But I don’t think “top cop” Kamala brings much to the ticket. She’s being buoyed by a lot of media-manufactured hot air, flanked by her friends in the Senate. Let’s see how things go in a few weeks. Maybe she’ll hide in the bunker with Joe to avoid making errors because they’re two peas in a pod.