Can Black Hillary ‘Get Serious’ Enough to Fix Her Popularity Problem?

AP Photo/Noah Berger

Vice President Kamala Harris hasn’t accomplished much during her stint in the White House, but she has managed to reach a notable achievement: Having approval ratings lower than President Joe Biden. The nation has an overall negative opinion of Harris, and it does not appear she has what it takes to recover.

Nevertheless, columnist Peggy Noonan penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal in which she speculated as to the steps the vice president would have to take to rehabilitate her image. The question is: Will Harris be up to the task?

Noonan started out by pointing out how bad Harris’ numbers are. She wrote:

President Biden’s poll numbers are bad and Vice President Kamala Harris’s are worse. A survey this week from conservative-leaning Rasmussen had her at 39% favorable, 57% unfavorable. The number that stuck in the public’s mind came last month, from a USAToday/Suffolk poll that put her approval at 28%, disapproval at 51%.

Noonan also brought up the horrible month Harris has had with news reports bringing to light her highly-flawed managerial style. “There’s been an exodus of high-level staffers. The Washington Post had a sweeping, searing piece that described a ‘dysfunctional’ and chaotic office full of bitter enmities,” she wrote.

The author notes that these stories, combined with the fact that Harris has not shown herself to be an effective leader “leaves people uneasy.” She wrote:

All this leaves people uneasy. The president is old and his judgment questionable; she seems out of her depth. We will have another three years of this? It is also dangerous: We don’t want their weakness to become America’s weakness.

Noonan’s first suggestion relies on the notion that “[t]he Harris Is Incompetent stories are played out” for the time being because publishing more would be “overkill.” In essence, she is suggesting that Harris has hit her low point and the only way to go from here is up — as long as the vice president plays her cards right.

Since “[e]xpectations are low,” the vice president can “use the time of her deadness to focus on why she’s failing,” according to the author.

Noonan suggested Harris could reflect on the poor decisions she made, namely her failed meetings in Guatemala and Mexico in June to discuss dealing with the “root causes” of illegal immigration and the current migrant crisis that her boss started. “She seemed unprepared, unfocused—unserious,” the author recalled.

The author’s second suggestion is that Harris “must make herself useful.” She wrote:

Second, she must make herself useful. She’s there to help the president. Recent vice presidents who were good at their job and evaded this kind of criticism were longtime Washington hands who made their experience useful to the president, helping him navigate the town, find old levers, forge new relationships. George H.W. Bush did this for Californian Ronald Reagan ; Al Gore knew things that benefited Bill Clinton, former governor of Arkansas.

Noonan notes that while Harris has not established herself as a Washington insider, she could make herself useful to Biden by helping him in explaining the White House’s stances and policy proposal, pointing out that the president is severely lacking in his ability to communicate. The columnist explained:

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.

Noonan isn’t wrong in her assertions. If Harris followed her advice, she might actually have a chance of addressing her unpopularity problem.

But the problem is that Harris is not capable of taking the steps Noonan suggested. For starters, the vice president seems to lack the wherewithal to use this period of low popularity to reflect on what she’s doing wrong. The fact that others have pointed out that her current staffing issues are reminiscent of how things went when she was California’s attorney general seems to demonstrate that she is not one for learning from her mistakes.

Her dismal performance in South America was only the tip of the iceberg. Ever since Harris was tapped as border czar, she has frequently sent the message that she is none too interested in the job. It was only after months of badgering by Republican politicians and pundits that she even bothered to visit the border. Moreover, she has done little to address the supposed “root causes” of the migrant crisis — probably because President Biden himself is the primary root cause.

Secondly, the chances of Harris learning to make herself useful to Biden are very low. What the Democrats and activist media don’t want to admit – at least not publicly – is that the vice president simply isn’t good at her job. She appears to be out of her depth. While her communication style isn’t nearly as meandering and disjointed as the president’s, she often seems off-putting. She appears to be unable and frequently unwilling to answer tough questions.

Remember how she reacted when asked about visiting the border? “And I haven’t been to Europe,” she replied. “And I mean, I don’t … understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”

This was just one of many times she failed to answer a straight question. In many cases, she devolves into that Hillary-esque cackle that makes one’s neck hair stand up on end.

To put it simply, Vice President Kamala Harris has no hope for reversing her dismal approval ratings. She lacks the political wit and charisma to get back on American’s good side. But it is understandable that the Democrats would be concerned about their Kamala problem. Biden’s performance has been woefully inept, and they finally realized that running Harris in 2024 isn’t going to do much good for them. It will be interesting to see how the party attempts to wriggle its way out of this situation.