Once-Relevant Candidate Appears on Cover of Once-Relevant Magazine


October 3, 2019

Senator Kamala Harris's (D., Calif.) days are numbered as even a minimally relevant contender in the 2020 Democratic primary. That might be why Time magazine, a formerly relevant publication, decided to feature the notoriously ruthless former attorney general on its cover—before it is too late.

Harris—who continues to describe herself as a "top-tier candidate" despite polling at just 4.8 percent, or fifth place, in the RealClearPolitics national polling average—is understandably desperate for attention. Her latest ploy is a public campaign to get President Donald Trump banned from Twitter. "We need a civil society, not a civil war," she wrote in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Harris also recently convinced BuzzFeed to write an entire article using actual words to explain why she uses female pronouns when talking about the presidency.

The Time profile is unlikely to give Harris the boost needed to achieve "top-tier" status in the Democratic primary. If any Democratic voters actually read it, they will probably come away feeling even less enthusiastic about her candidacy than they previously did.

For example, they might not have been aware of how Harris got her start in California politics:

Partly as a result of her relationship with her former boyfriend Willie Brown, the legendary California politician who was then speaker of the state assembly, Harris had cultivated a strong fundraising base among the city’s wealthy socialites. Brown, 30 years her senior and technically still married, had also appointed Harris to boards and introduced her to his political network when they were dating in the 1990s, sparking accusations of nepotism.

Or they might not have figured out that she is a cop whose first instinct is to lock people up:

"There’s sort of a laundry list for what it means to be a progressive prosecutor, and she doesn’t check a single one of the boxes," says Lara Bazelon, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. "At least she didn’t when she was an actual prosecutor and she was in a position to do something to make the system more fair."

Harris, Bazelon notes, dismissed the idea of legalizing marijuana as recently as 2014, but now that it’s popular she supports it. "That seems to be a theme: once she’s not in any sort of political risk, and there’s a consensus that a reform is a good thing, she’s behind it," Bazelon said. "But when it’s time to be bold and do the right thing, she doesn’t."

Or they could still be confused about where exactly Harris stands on a series of major issues:

Various commentators have found Harris elusive, and she can be hard to pin down on policy positions. Early in her presidential campaign she called for abolishing private health insurance, then took it back, then later released a health care plan that would be government-run but allow for both public and private health insurance. In the first debate, Harris scored a clean hit on Biden with her attack on his opposition to federally mandated busing in the 1970s, and surged in the polls. But in the ensuing days she couldn’t definitively describe her own position on busing...

The concluding paragraphs, about a recent appearance at a pub in Iowa, serve as a fitting coda to a presidential campaign valiantly puttering along as the last fumes of relevance leave the tank:

Harris bounds onto the stage, all gleaming smiles and upbeat energy. "So, I’m moving here!" she says with a big laugh, and then turns serious. "We are at an inflection moment in the history of our country," she tells the crowd, "a moment in time requiring us to look in the mirror and ask a question, that question being, Who are we?"

While Harris is still speaking, a few people begin to trickle out the back of the venue. Elizabeth Warren is holding an event a little ways down the road, they tell me, and they don’t want to miss it.