This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 3, 2020:
William Shakespeare said that “Desperate times breed desperate measures,” and Joe Biden is desperate. Sitting in his basement, sheltering in place (“aging in place,” some are saying), reading scripts from his teleprompter, Joe Biden is now challenging the president to a debate. The president is ignoring him.
Why wouldn’t he? The president has everything going his way and he is drowning out any attempt by Biden to get some airtime.
Biden’s first challenge was issued the day after Super Tuesday. Fresh from his victories, he challenged the president to a debate, claiming that he would “beat him like a drum.” While being interviewed by Brian Williams, Biden dared the president:
I’m going to beat this man like a drum. I’m telling you. I can hardly wait to debate him. I want to debate him about corruption. Talk about corruption. This is the most corrupt president we’ve ever had in American history. I can hardly wait, Brian.
I’m not going to play his game. I’m not going to get into the idea of whether or not I have to defend anything. What he did was impeachable. He got impeached. He should have been convicted. They acknowledged he should have been. That he committed the crimes that he, in fact, they said he did but they said it wasn’t enough to impeach him. This is outrageous.
Unfortunately for Biden that was back in February – ages ago in political terms.
On Wednesday, Biden tried again. During an interview with radio host Enrique Santos, Biden said he is “ready to debate President Trump on Zoom or Skype, any time he wants.”
Here is Biden’s reality: it has been Trump, all the time. The coronavirus threat has taken over the conversation. Trump is everywhere. He is being increasingly perceived as large and in charge. His approval ratings both as president and as leader of the attack on the virus have skyrocketed. He is even getting modest plaudits from high profile Democrats like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, and Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee. Polls are showing enormous gains coming from Democrats and Independents – approaching 10 percent favorables in some cases – putting the president within shouting distance of a 40-state win in the general election.
In the absence of a direct response from Trump’s campaign, the pro-Trump political action committee America First Action Super PAC is taking the fight to Biden, dumping $10 million into political advertising in three key Rust Belt states that the president flipped in 2016: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. And this is just the start, said the group’s president Brian Walsh:
This is our first round of spending, with much more to come. By the time November rolls around, voters in battleground states are going to know why Joe Biden is weak, wrong, and been around for too long to lead the United States of America.
Not only does Biden face an electorate increasingly favorable to the president, he suffers from grievous personal liabilities. As Justin Ward opined in USA Today, “Biden has every liability Hillary Clinton had, and then some. His Iraq War vote, [his] ties to the financial sector, [his] scandals involving his son [Hunter] and brother – these issues got little attention from the liberal press during the primary, but [in the upcoming general election] Trump and the conservative media will give [him] no quarter.”
Pat Buchanan perfectly described the difficulties Biden faces:
If Biden cannot gather crowds to hear him in a time of social distancing, how does he get his message out? How does he attack Trump without appearing to undermine the president in his role as a wartime commander in chief, where America wants Trump to succeed?
How does a basement-bound Biden compete with Trump in the Oval Office, Cabinet Room, East Room, and Rose Garden?
Whom does Biden call upon to rival Trump’s instant access to respected leaders eager to come and stand beside the president in the most serious crisis since World War II?
How does Biden recapture the spotlight of Super Tuesday?
If he does manage to get some airtime, the former vice president runs the risk of, as Karl Rove put it, “sounding small and partisan when Americans desire less partisanship and more unity.”
Biden can’t count on a poor economy to catapult him into the White House, either, as most voters are likely to blame the virus and not the president. And if the president and others are correct, the virus will be ancient history and the economy will be on the rebound by November.
If by some miracle, or error in judgment by the president or his political advisors, Biden is able to engage the president in a debate before the general election begins (the first official debate isn’t scheduled until late September), Trump is likely to be the one beating his opponent like a drum.
All he needs to do, according to William McGurn, is to get under Biden’s skin. As McGurn noted in the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Biden’s particular weakness has to do with his anger. Probably because of his origins in hardscrabble Scranton, PA, he may have concluded that he’s just the guy to give Donald Trump a taste of his own medicine. Once he boasted how he wished he were back in high school, so he could take Mr. Trump “behind the gym” where he would “beat the hell” out of him.
If part of your appeal is restoring comity to the Oval Office, this isn’t a good look.
Worse, Mr. Biden has been directing most of his anger at ordinary voters. Already this election season, a plainly irritated Mr. Biden questioned one voter’s IQ and challenged him to a push-up contest, called a young woman a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” and told a Detroit auto worker who questioned him on his gun policy that he was “full of s-.”
Again, this isn’t the way to run against this president.
The president is wise to continue to ignore the former vice president. The silence is smothering him. Why mess with the formula when it is so obviously working?
The Wall Street Journal: Biden’s Weak Election Strategy
Pat Buchanan: Is coronavirus killing Joe Biden’s bid?
GulfNews.com: Trump’s approval ratings are up
FiveThirtyEight: What Gives With Trump’s Approval-Ratings Boost?
FiveThirtyEight: What Explains The Bump In Trump’s Approval Ratings?
Washington Examiner: Biden willing to debate Trump ‘any time he wants’
The Wall Street Journal: How Biden Should Debate Trump
Joe Biden Rips Trump, Post-Debate: ‘I’m Going To Beat This Man Like A Drum!’