Freddy Gray is optimistic about President Trump’s political prospects. The polls showing that Trump is headed for the ropes are merely ‘clever mathematical models’. Trump, we are assured, is a protean figure, a ‘great finisher’ who can win a second term and show all those lily-livered pundits what kind of a man it really takes to win a second term in the White House.
Don’t believe a word of it. Trump isn’t about to resurrect his campaign. Instead, it’s headed for calamity.
One reason is the palpable incompetence of Trump and his Stosstruppen. When the campaign began, Trump and his advisers were bragging about Death Stars. Now their campaign has proven to be ill-starred. Trump, a survivor of serial bankruptcies, has blown through a campaign budget of over $1 billion.
Add in his insouciance about the coronavirus, which is being highlighted by his super-spreader rallies. Perhaps the capstone to Trump’s fecklessness in handling the coronavirus pandemic came on Sunday, when his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows hoisted the white flag of surrender, declaring in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, ‘we’re not going to control the pandemic’. We’re not? So much for Trump’s eupeptic claim on the same day at a rally in New Hampshire that America is ‘rounding the turn’. Trump needs to put Meadows out to pasture.
Then there is Vice President Mike Pence, who has broken new ground in canine fealty to his master. Pence is traveling around the country at a moment when his own staff is going down with the coronavirus. Pence himself also plans to preside over the Senate vote elevating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. ‘God help us,’ declared Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. Apparently, the Trump White House wants to plan another outdoors events to celebrate to celebrate Barrett’s ascension, as the last one went so well. Presumably Chris Christie will not be attending this time around.
But it is not simply Trump’s mishaps that are propelling Biden to the White House. For all the brickbats hurled at Biden, he has run a masterful campaign, one of the best in many decades. Time and again, his opponents, whether on the left or right, have underestimated him.
The mockery of Biden as old and doddering began during the Democratic primary. Initially, Biden did seem out of it. His campaign was flailing. Then came South Carolina, where Biden found his mojo. The prospect of a crushing defeat reanimated him. He won big. Suddenly, Biden’s calm began to look like prudence; his earnestness, gravitas. More than a few voters started riding with Biden.
In retrospect, the principal secret to Biden’s success was that he never deviated from his message of reuniting America. He ran what might be called a Peaches & Herb campaign: reunited, and it feels so good. Reunited ’cause we understood. There’s one perfect fit. And, sugar, this one is it.
While the other candidates for the Democratic nomination squabbled about Medicare or Obamacare or about being woke, Biden, the supposedly sleepy one, painted in broader, even primary, colors. He began his campaign with a speech focusing on Trump’s mendacity about the goons in Charlottesville and never really looked back. The genius of his campaign is that every time Trump lashes out, which he does with metronomic regularity, he ratifies Biden’s contention that he is dangerously dividing America.
Consider the pricey and emollient ads — unlike Trump, he can afford them — that Biden is running during the World Series featuring Brad Pitt. The sentiments are gauzy and nostalgic: ‘America is a place for everyone. Those who chose this country, those who fought for it, some Republicans, some Democrats and most just somewhere in between.’ Biden’s message of inclusion is based on excluding one man from the White House, not on dissing a whole category of the electorate as ‘deplorables’.
Now that he has faced off with Trump in two debates and held a number of events, Biden is once more going underground. Ensconced in his basement, Biden can watch the terminus of the campaign with complacent satisfaction. Freddy Gray complains, ‘He is sleepwalking to victory.’ Yes, he is.