In August 2020 a reader drew my attention to a Peggy Noonan mash note in the form of her Wall Street Journal column “The Rise of Kamala Harris.” Subhead: “The daughter of East Bay professors grew up to become an excellent performer of politics.”
The column elicited thousands of critical comments. They almost made the column worth reading. They were certainly more perceptive or more realistic than Noonan’s column. I quoted four of them in “High Noonan.”
I also noted that Noonan hadn’t “yet turned on Harris based on her patent idiocy or her actual performance as vice president,” but expressed confidence that “we can look forward to the column in which Noonan turns on her without mention of her previous adulation.”
Today Noonan delivers on my prediction in her Wall Street Journal column “Kamala Harris Needs to Get Serious.” Subhead: “Her shaky standing is a danger to the country given the position she could be called on to fill.”
A little over a year later, it’s come to this:
Expectations are low. Ms. Harris can use the time of her deadness to focus on why she’s failing. Those who know her doubt she is capable of deep change, and a reset would have to deal not with surface matters but those more fundamental. Still, she’d be staring into the abyss right now, and perhaps seeing this is her last chance to correct a bad impression.
Noonan now offers Harris her best advice, culminating in this recommendation:
She could lend what skills she has to the public presentation of the administration’s stands. Mr. Biden isn’t strong there; he’s uneven in his attempts to explain and advance policy thinking.
To do this Ms. Harris would have to decide to become serious—to inform and immerse herself, meet with party thinkers, study her briefing books. Her current strategy, to the extent it exists, appears to rely on her sense of her own personal charisma—delighted laughter, attempts to connect personally, to convey zest.
She should speak instead with sincerity and depth. She shouldn’t confuse Happy Warrior with Hungry Operative.
Ms. Harris has never seemed especially earnest. This would be a good time for earnestness.
Noonan’s August 2020 column on Harris was followed by her September 2020 column on Joe Biden. Biden was her preferred presidential candidate. She also fashioned that column in the form of advice to get him over the finish line. She was worried he might lose. A year later she turned on Biden in her September 2021 column “The Afghan Fiasco Will Stick to Biden.” Subhead: “It hit at his reputational core. He no longer comes across as empathetic, much less serious.”
Peggy Noonan is pathetic. Noonan’s popularity as a Journal columnist may justify the editors’ persistence in turning over the paper’s valuable editorial page real estate to her on a weekly basis, but I trust they are embarrassed by it.