Self-inflicted wounds may have doomed a once-promising campaign.
With impeachment ever a dubious proposition, even during the height of Russia-mania, and the Trump campaign cash machine running night and day, incumbent Republicans have had few fears lately as we head into 2020.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was never a serious threat to Trump on anything but paper. Biden had the qualifications, sure. He even had a bit of the old Obama administration magic.
But anyone who has watched even one of Joe Biden’s feeble debate performances has noticed the weakness, the stumbles, the gaffes, the tendency to misspeak, worsening all the time. Even against fellow Democrats, opponents who were strangely unwilling to take a shot at him, Biden did poorly by any metric.
The only advantage Joe Biden might have had in a head-to-head debate matchup with a loud-mouthed New York street brawler like Donald Trump would have been in making viewers feel sorry enough for him to vote Biden.
With Biden all but out of the race on poor fundraising numbers and weak debate performances, all eyes turned next towards talented ingenue Mayor Pete Buttigieg as he pivoted to the moderate territory.
But a series of missteps has left the Buttigieg campaign polling at zero with African-American voters in the crucial primary states he would need to win to cinch the nomination. He seems unlikely to recover his fledgling momentum.
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have both pigeonholed themselves into the socialist camp, and have promised, on the record, to raise everyone’s taxes to pay for massive overhauls of every aspect of American life.
That’s a tough sell in any year, but in a bumper-crop year like this one, with the stock market closing at record highs, unemployment hitting record lows, plus wage gains and income growth this robust, it is all but impossible.
Beto O’Rourke certainly gave Sen. Ted Cruz a run for his money in 2018’s midterm race. But O’Rourke proved too prone to missteps- like announcing his candidacy on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine- and delusions of grandeur involving forcible gun confiscation and stripping tax-exempt status from religious organizations whose belief in traditional marriage has become problematic for progressives.
For the Republican pollsters, pundits, and politicos nervously and quietly watching the Democratic field, there has been one candidate who, from the beginning has made Republicans very nervous indeed.
Sen. Kamala Harris.
That smart, tough, California prosecutor with a rags to riches story to warm the heart, a candid, personable way of connecting with voters and little baggage with which she could be easily assailed.
Republicans feared that Kamala Harris and electing the first female President of the United States would prove just as seductive and irresistible a narrative to Democratic voters as Barack Obama and electing the first African-American President was in 2008.
Republicans are right to fear it: Kamala Harris could have driven Democrats out in droves to support her in the general election- Democrats who might stay home for another candidate like Buttigieg or Sanders.
Luckily for Republicans, though not perhaps for the Republic, the Kamala Harris campaign has been dealt a mortal blow.
That this blow was self-inflicted should stick in the craw of every voting Democrat in America who longs to see Donald Trump replaced by his anathema, his equal and opposite.
That anathema was, and remains, Kamala Harris.
Turning in low fundraising numbers for the past few quarters, the Harris campaign has been floundering- and struggling to define a clear and consistent message. Testing first one catch phrase and then another, the campaign didn’t suffer from lack of passion so much as lack of objectivity.
Harris’ decision to hire her sister as her campaign chair was a dubious one at best.
Now, after a series of layoffs hit the Harris campaign hard, former staffers are spilling the beans to the New York Times and anyone else who will listen.
Their tales, complete with a blistering resignation letter from one top-level staffer, reveal a pattern of indecision and ineptitude that is truly disheartening for Democrats hoping to vote for Harris in 2020.
“This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly. It is unacceptable that we would lay off anyone that we hired only weeks earlier. It is unacceptable that with less than 90 days until Iowa we still do not have a real plan to win.” — Kelly Mehlenbacher, former Harris Campaign state operations director
It is tragic, and sadly all too typical in the reactionary age of Donald Trump.
Constantly in reaction to Trump, blind to anything but ‘electability’, Democrats may have just let their most promising candidate slip right through their fingers.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)