A peculiar report in the Times: Whatever happened to Candidate Kamala Harris? One week ago today, a peculiar report on this basic question appeared in the New York Times.
What the heck happened to Candidate Harris? Why did she fail to catch on?
What went wrong with the Harris campaign? At one point, Lerer and Medina offer this highly unflattering overview:
LERER AND MEDINA (12/P/19): Supporters acknowledge that many of the problems faced by Ms. Harris’s presidential campaign were self-inflicted, having little to do with her race or gender. They list failings like strategic miscalculations that had her ignoring Iowa and New Hampshire for the first months of the race, a lack of leadership within her operation and an inability to articulate a consistent rationale for her candidacy. Her critics argue that those missteps suggested to voters that Ms. Harris was unprepared for the presidency, lending credence to arguments questioning her electability.Oof! According to that assessment, Harris committed the strategic blunder of ignoring Iowa and New Hampshire for the first months of the race.
She had a lack of leadership within her operation. Also, she wasn't able to articulate a consistent rationale for her candidacy. And that's what her supporters say!
According to Harris' critics, these bungles "suggested to voters that Ms. Harris was unprepared for the presidency." Question:
If voters got that impression from that list of problems, could anyone say they were wrong?
In our view, Lerer and Medina were perhaps being overly kind. They failed to list some of the specific mistakes which may have cost Harris support.
That said, their capsule assessment is plenty harsh. How many White House candidates have been successful if they ignored the first caucus and primary states while failing to articulate a rationale for their campaign?
We can't tell you why Harris didn't catch on with Democratic voters. Since we're discussing tens of milliona of people, we'll guess there were several reasons.
On the simplest level, we'd simply say that, after an impressive kick-off rally, it just seemed, again and again, that Harris simply wasn't ready for a White House campaign.
She wasn't hugely well known coming in. Once there, she often seemed under-prepared.
For ourselves, we thought Harris' opening rally was extremely impressive. That said, we were appalled by few of her subsequent steps. That included her attack on Candidate Biden at the first debate—her attack on him for opposing a policy in the 1970s which, just to be honest, Harris herself doesn't seem to support in the present day.
We're bone weary of hopefuls like that. We'll guess that her decline started there, after reflexive bursts of praise for her bold, heartfelt, completely authentic and truth-telling attack.
For the record, we think Biden is a terrible candidate in a field of terrible candidates. That said, Lerer and Medina offered a highly unflattering summary of the Harris campaign in the paragraph we've quoted—and that's just what her supporters have said!.
According to Lerer and Medina, the Harris campaign was a mess. That brings us to the part of their report which struck us as a bit peculiar—but also as a highly instructive artifact of the times.
According to Lerer and Medina, Harris made the large mistake of ignoring New Hampshire and Iowa. There was a lack of leadership within her operation. Beyond that, the candidate was unable "to articulate a consistent rationale for her candidacy."
Especially for a relative newcomer, that sounded like a list of sins which would derail almost any White House campaign. But the paragraph we've posted above was just one small part of a full-length report, in which the Times reporters tried to determine whether the real reason for Harris' failure might lie somewhere else.
Anyone familiar with modern-day TimesThink will know where the reporters looked. Their report was an attempt to determine why Candidate Harris didn't make it. We'd also say it might help us see why the crackpot Candidate Trump has a good chance to win once again.
As we consider a possible Trump re-election, are we possibly dealing with "death by woke?" We'll examine that possibility all this week in our afternoon reports, in which we examine an endless series of valid concerns gone wild.
Tomorrow: A rare point of widespread agreement