Friday, October 23, 2020

Not The Same Donald Trump


Last night, while Donald Trump and Joe Biden were duking it out, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 222-21. The latter paralleled the former event, with the Eagles in the role of Biden and the Giants in the role of Trump.

There were the Eagles, winners of the Super Bowl only three years ago, now, through a combination of bad college drafts and injuries, fighting hard to defeat putrid rivals (Giants, Washington, and Dallas) in their division. And last night, even though they were once much stronger, they came out ahead, barely, against an (inferior) opponent.

As did Joseph Robinette Biden. Something has happened to Donald Trump the past four years, in part getting older, and in greater part because he is now an incumbent, a role he plays poorly. In 2016, he was the challenger, all vim and vigor, spewing fire and brimstone everywhere, threatening to drain the swamp which he now has reinforced, strengthened, and provides over.  

Trump has not been able effectively to denounce American "carnage," as he did four years ago, now that he himself is President. It's even harder when, as in the case of Trump, he barely tries, instead talking about the pandemic in an inevitably failed effort to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

That's not to conclude that Donald Trump won't still be President Trump in a year, given widespread and varied GOP voter suppression strategies.  But like the New York Giants on Thursday night, he had a chance at a win and tossed it away.

"Pre-existing conditions will always stay," Donald Trump claimed, to which Biden went into a little detail about his health care plan.  If John McCain had not cast the deciding vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act 39 months ago, there would be no protection for individuals with pre-existing conditions.  If the state Attorneys General succeed in their lawsuit, joined by Donald Trump's personal Justice Department, in the federal court to overturn the ACA, insurance companies likely will end coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. That cannot be emphasized enough by a Democratic candidate but Biden took a pass.

Asked by Trump whether he would "close down the oil industry," Biden replied "by the way, I have a transition from the old industry, yes." That's a bold claim, especially because even the Green New Deal does not contemplate closing down or ending the oil industry in the next four years. Trump tried, but feebly, to make an issue out of this extraordinary admission.


 


Trump brought up the issue of crime- but, momentarily forgetting that he was not running for the Democratic nomination for President, flogged the former vice-president for being insufficiently dedicated to criminal justice reform. Biden remarked "no one should be going to jail because they have a drug problem. They should be going to rehabilitation, not to jail." Trump responded with "why didn't he do this four years ago?"

Maybe because if someone has drug problem but insists on selling huge amounts of narcotics to someone else with a drug problem, he should go to jail.  Or maybe because that person with a drug problem was apprehended while burglarizing a home or assaulting a woman. If Trump wanted to sell that without seeming overly punitive, he could have added "and this is a problem which is harming black families, poor families, especially, and those are the people most opposed to defunding the police, which you support."

Biden has explicitly opposed defunding the police. However, the President could have linked his opponent with a favorite target, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez- and when did the truth ever deter Donald Trump, anyway? It certainly did not stop Trump from claiming, hilariously, "I am the least racist person in this room." Nobody is buying it.


 


Consider if a criminal has a drug problem while insisting on selling huge amounts of narcotics to someone else with a drug problem, he should go to jail.  Or maybe because the person with a drug problem was apprehended while burglarizing a home or assaulting a woman. If Trump wanted to sell that without seeming overly punitive, he could have added "and this is a problem which is harming black families, poor families, especially, and those are the people most opposed to defunding the police, which you support."

Biden has explicitly opposed defunding the police. However, the President could have linked his opponent with a favorite target, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez- and when did the truth ever deter Donald Trump, anyway? It certainly did not stop Trump from claiming, hilariously, "I am the least racist person in this room." Nobody is buying it.

Biden made a few tactically wise points, such as his riff about the empty chair at the kitchen table or the individual missing the spouse because the latter has died of Covid-19.  It could have been made a little more eloquently, but the slight awkwardness may have made it seemed even more genuine.

Like the Eagles, Joe Biden had a home field advantage Thursday night. The Eagles were playing in Philadelphia and Joe Biden played on his home field, by the generosity of his opponent. Notwithstanding the 220,000+ deaths from a coronavirus he befriended, Donald Trump could have steered the conversation toward crime and chaos in large American cities, whose voters are overwhelmingly arrayed against him, anyway. Instead, he tried to pose as America's great criminal justice reformer, which, given his rhetoric of the past five years, he wouldn't be able to pull off even if accurate.

Instead, the incumbent dwelt excessively with the pandemic, which he has clearly worsened, and which could emerge only as a plus for an opponent who is nothing if not empathetic.  On Thursday evening, the NY Giants faced a fairly weak opponent, and so did Trump. But Donald Trump, like the football team from the New York area, is not what he once was.



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