There was little evidence Trump’s campaign has a message, a strategy or even a realistic map (campaigning in Oklahoma, really?). Other than the vague and ineffective nickname (“Sleepy Joe”), which does not work if the incumbent is himself looking long in the tooth, Trump has not told us why voting for former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is a bad idea.
He tried to create a scandal in Ukraine out of thin air. That bombed and got him impeached. He tried to make Biden out to be a softy on China, but Trump’s own fawning over President Xi Jinping coupled with former national security adviser John Bolton’s allegations suggest it is Trump who is the patsy for Beijing. Trump would like to claim Democrats are a bunch of socialists, but they did not nominate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Instead, primary voters favored someone whose views are quite popular (e.g., expand Obamacare, address climate change, raise the minimum wage, end tax cuts for the rich and for big corporations, pass reasonable gun safety laws). Moreover, Democrats did not renominate Hillary Clinton, whose time in public life had generated unhinged animosity and whose finances and emails provided Trump with a plethora of targets.
It might not have seemed like a brilliant idea to his critics, but picking a candidate with nearly 100-percent name ID, a genial and kind demeanor, a working knowledge of government and the world, and a center-left orientation was the best strategy to run against Trump. And let us remember: Trump, to his credit, understood this, which is why he tried to eliminate Biden with the Ukraine smear.
Trump has been stripped of an affirmative argument for his reelection. The economy is in shambles, nearly 120,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and it is nearly impossible to stay current on all the scandals. What became clear Saturday night was that he does not have much if any argument against Biden, either. He wears a mask? Not a negative with a supermajority of voters. He practices social distancing rather than hold mass rallies to infect people? Also a plus for most Americans. Biden thinks there is systemic racism in policing? Well, so do most Americans. Biden wants government to do a lot? These days, so do most voters. He will appoint justices who will hold that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ Americans and who will keep DACA in place? Well, that is not going to work after last week.
The question no longer is whether Trump can win but whether he or anyone in his camp has a clue how to do so. Right now, the answer is painfully obvious.
Watch more Opinions videos: