It would have been a tough hit on the Democratic presidential nominee — except the property in the photograph is not Biden’s. It hasn’t been for 24 years. He had bought it, dilapidated, in the mid-1970s for $185,000, then, after rehabilitating it over two decades, sold it for $1.2 million.
The only scandal the episode revealed was how desperate President Trump and his allies are to find something — anything — that might change the trajectory of the race at this late stage. After 2016, only a fool would confidently predict the election outcome. But judging from the actions of Trump’s team and Republican lawmakers and candidates, it’s clear they think they’re losing.
They’re attacking Democrats for having hard-to-pronounce names and for allegedly being closet vegans. They’re dropping supposed bombshells about Biden’s past that fail to detonate. And they’re pretending they never liked that Trump guy.
Item: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a stalwart Trump ally now in a close race, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram his relationship with Trump is “like a lot of women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse, and that doesn’t usually work out very well.” Cornyn, who publicly supported Trump diverting Pentagon funds for a border wall, now claims he opposed it.
Item: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), another Trump enabler for four years, excoriated Trump last week because he “kisses dictators’ butts,” “mocks evangelicals” and “flirted with white supremacists” — sentiments Sasse largely suppressed before he feared “a Republican bloodbath in the Senate.”
Item: The New York Times reports that “midlevel aides on the campaign have even begun inquiring about employment on Capitol Hill after the election, apparently under the assumption that there will not be a second Trump administration for them to serve in.”
If Republicans think abandoning ship now will work for them, I’ve got a house in Delaware to sell them. Even as Republicans belatedly decide the USS Trump is going down, they are mirroring his aimless campaign themes in their own races.
In Pennsylvania, where Democrat Eugene DePasquale is poised to oust Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the National Republican Congressional Committee put up an ad on Oct. 13 attacking DePasquale — for his Italian name. “Eugene DePasquale: Tough to spell,” the announcer intones. The ad also mocks DePasquale’s CrossFit routine with scenes of gym equipment and push-ups.
In Nebraska, where Democrat Kara Eastman is positioned to defeat a Republican incumbent, an ad by the Congressional Leadership Fund — the House GOP super PAC — shows the Democrat’s head superimposed over a raw steak. It accuses her of plotting to “get rid of farting cows,” warns she’ll “stick a fork in that Omaha steak” and closes with the announcer asking: “How do you like your tofu?” Fittingly, her opponent’s name is Rep. Don Bacon.
Eastman, in a meeting with supporters, had said Republicans are “attacking me like crazy. There’s fliers going out to everybody in the district that I’m a radical socialist.” The CLF cut out all the words except “I’m a radical socialist” and uses that phrase in the ad. Another CLF ad says Eastman wants a “new world where no one eats meat.” And an NRCC ad says she wants to abolish cars and air travel and raise taxes to 70 percent.
In Texas, where Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni has a good shot to flip a Republican seat, the CLF attacks him for attending “notorious desert drug parties.” The “drug party” in question? The annual Burning Man arts festival, attended by tens of thousands.
One Republican congressional nominee in Virginia slams his son to a wrestling mat and repeatedly pins him to show he’ll “put liberal ideas in a headlock.” At one Trump rally, embattled Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) makes fun of the name of his colleague, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris. At another, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) says Biden supporters don’t “particularly like America.”
If it all seems scattered and random (They’re corrupt capitalists! No, they’re socialists! No, they’re anarchists!), consider the direction from the top. Last week, Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani served up his latest Hunter Biden conspiracy theory to Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post. The evidence was so shoddy the main author reportedly refused to put his name on it.
Giuliani must have hoped for an October Surprise. But the real surprise is this: After Trump ransacked the CIA, the Justice Department and the State Department for any morsel of dirt on his opponent, the election is upon us — and this is all he’s got?