Nolte: Media Agree on One Thing — Kamala Harris Had a Bad Night

Democratic presidential hopefuls Former Vice President Joe Biden (L) and US Senator from California Kamala Harris chat during a break in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. …
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

If there is one establishment media takeaway from Wednesday evening’s debate, it is that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) did not have a good night.

In last month’s debate, Harris was not only seen as the winner, but her performance put her in the top tier of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination. But targeting a frontrunner as dumb as Joe Biden from the cheap seats and being a target yourself are two entirely different things, and by almost all accounts, Kamala was not up to it.

As far as other winners and losers, if you click on the links below, you will see that outside of Harris, there is no real consensus. Some believe Joe Biden had a good night. Some believe he was terrible. Same with the Democrats.

The only one true consensus is that Harris hurt herself.

Even far-left outlets like the Washington Post and CNN declared Harris one of the losers.

The Post: “Her tough-on-crime history as a prosecutor and her equivocation on certain issues, including busing and Medicare-for-all, made her a convenient target. She didn’t exactly handle it well.”

CNN: “Harris at times effectively parried those attacks, but she didn’t do it enough. On health care and criminal justice reform, she struggled to defend repeated attacks on her record; she wound up simply saying that everything [sic] everyone else on stage wasn’t telling the truth about her record. Really, everyone?”

Here is a list of other outlets that declared Harris a “loser” Wednesday night:

USA Today: Harris also seemed ill-prepared to respond to attacks on her record by the other candidates. When confronted about her record by de Blasio, Gillibrand, and others, Harris, instead, repeatedly directed criticisms at Biden.

Business Insider: “Harris was particularly weak when she defended her record as California’s attorney general.”

Mediaite: “It was very snippy and combative, came off petty at times, and seemed to throw Harris off her game for the remainder of the debate, leaving her open for a killing blow from Tulsi Gabbard.”

Vox: “[S]he mostly failed. For much of the first half of the debate, Harris got bogged down in a hard-to-follow debate over the finer details of her Medicare-for-all plan versus Biden’s health care plan.”

BBC: “The healthcare portion of the debate quickly became mired in the details, and Harris didn’t do a great job explaining in an understandable way why her plan should be viewed as the best way forward.”

Politics USA: “Harris needed a big night to move closer to Biden. Instead, she vanished for a long stretch of the debate after struggling on healthcare. Biden and the other candidates were ready for Sen. Harris and she didn’t respond strongly to her new status in the top tier.”

The only outlet I could find that declared Harris a “winner” was The Independent, and even that was grudging:

This wasn’t in the same ballpark as her performance in the first debate, where she confronted Biden over bussing. But, after a shaky start where she sounded flustered by Biden’s energetic opening, she regained her footing. There was one uncomfortable moment when Tulsi Gabbard questioned her record as a prosecutor – but she didn’t fold. She’ll mark this debate as a net positive.

I’ve just never found Harris all that impressive. She’s an attractive woman with charisma, but, like Joe Biden, she’s just not very bright. As scary as I find Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both are plenty smart. Intelligence-wise, Harris is lacking, which is obvious every time she has to go off-script or is pressured in some way. Her answers and positions are all over the place, and she smiles like a goof, probably hoping it will soften her image.

In that first debate, she had a line of attack written and rehearsed against Biden and delivered it beautifully. But beyond that, she’s a bit of a mess. 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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