For conservative columnist Peggy Noonan, "something shifted this month," she writes in the Wall Street Journal. And that something revolves around President Trump's ability to lead a nation in crisis. In a scathing column, the former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan paints a damning picture of Trump's performance. "In some new way his limitations are being seen and acknowledged, and at a moment when people are worried about the continuance of their country and their own ability to continue within it," she writes. "He hasn’t been equal to the multiple crises. Good news or bad, he rarely makes any situation better. And everyone kind of knows." Noonan runs through his leadership in the pandemic ("inadequate and did harm") and the police protests ("weak, unserious and avoidant of the big issues").
Even on purely political grounds, she accuses him of "malpractice" because he failed to build support beyond 40% of the country even when the economy was rising and the military was fighting "no hot wars." Instead, he remained obsessed with his own base. But even those loyal supporters, who are willing to look past his showmanship, want seriousness in a time of crisis. "He doesn’t understand his own base," she writes. "I’ve never seen that in national politics." Noonan acknowledges that "silent" Trump supporters exist and will stay that way, even with pollsters, to avoid the hassle of being labeled as such. "But eight, 10 or 14 points worth? No." (Read the full column, in which Noonan wishes Joe Biden would step up more to answer a key question now that it's clear Trump can't lead in a crisis: "Can Mr. Biden?")