Will the Virus Bring Down this President?
You’d never know it by listening to Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, the ones who think he's invincible, but before this is over, we may be saying hello to President Joe Biden.
The conventional wisdom was that the president would waltz back into the Oval Office for a second term thanks mainly to a booming economy over which he presides – and for which he has understandably taken credit.
Have you checked the chaos in the stock market lately? The president can't take credit when it's heading north and wash his hands of it when it's going south. But be assured, he'll try.
A recession is not only possible, the smart money says it’s right around the corner heading to Main Street.
If people lose their jobs and their 401k morphs into a 201k – or worse – they’re not going to blame Joe Biden.
As I've noted before, only two presidents in the modern era lost re-election – Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican George H.W. Bush. Both were brought down by a weak economy.
At the heart of his woes, of course, is the coronavirus -- and whether the president and his team have done enough to protect Americans. The virus has brought the stock market to its knees and Donald Trump may be next.
Here’s some free advice for the president: Let the experts do the talking. Facts matter. Getting it right matters. When Donald Trump talks he often gets things wrong. He contradicts himself. If he doesn’t come across as trustworthy -- and competent -- at a time when Americans are in danger, his chances of winning in November will be seriously imperiled.
In a piece for Atlantic magazine, Peter Wehner a lifelong Republican who served in the last three GOP administrations -- and says he'll never vote for Donald Trump -- writes about the president's inclination to get things wrong:
"The president’s misinformation and mendacity about the coronavirus are head-snapping. He claimed it was contained in America when it was actually spreading. He claimed we had 'shut it down' when we had not. He claimed testing was available when it wasn’t. He claimed coronavirus will one day disappear 'like a miracle'; it won’t. The president claimed a vaccine would be available in months; [Dr. Anthony] Fauci says it will not be available for a year or more."
None of this may matter to Mr. Trump's die-hard base, the ones who will vote for him no matter what. But take note Mr. President: It's not only your loyalists who vote. So do independents. And what doesn't matter to your base may very well matter to them.
And then there's the matter of who he'll run against. It almost certainly won't be Bernie Sanders, whose candidacy is on life support -- and who the president saw as an easy target.
His likely opponent, Joe Biden, will run as a unifier against a man many see as a divider. In a victory speech after a strong Tuesday last week, Biden said, “We are a step closer to restoring decency, dignity and honor to the White House. We need presidential leadership that’s honest, trusted, truthful and steady.”
Self serving? Sure. But it’s the kind of message that very well may resonate with moderate voters in crucial battleground states who are exhausted with the president’s tweets and non-stop battles with anyone and everyone who utters a bad word about him. Even when he's right, the theatrics become tiresome.
That’s the bad news for President Trump. The good news is we are talking about Joe Biden after all. And you never know what’s going to come out of his mouth, either. He did well in last night's debate, but with Biden there's always the possibility that he'll stumble through an answer and make Donald Trump look good by comparison.
Besides, Biden may have trouble running as a moderate Democrat whose policies fall well within the mainstream of American politics -- especially when he has abandoned so many of his traditional liberal positions and lurched to the left hoping to win over Sanders' progressive supporters.
For years he was against taxpayer-funded abortions. Last night, Biden said he changed his mind; now he's for it.
That likely won't come across as an honest change of heart. More likely it'll sound like old fashioned pandering. And it may not sit well with those moderate swing voters who will decide the election.
And who knows, the president could get lucky. The stock market and the economy may be booming again long before November.
All I know for sure at this point is that no one knows anything for sure – least of all the Trump loyalists who are convinced he can’t lose.