Saturday, April 4, 2020

Virtual Retail Politics

Joe Biden has been making good on his effort to become more visible a at time when Trump is on TV every day and taking credit for handling the coronavirus crisis effectively - and getting away with it.
Biden (above) appeared on CNN last week in a virtual town hall with Anderson Cooper to discuss the health crisis gripping America and the world, and he handled hismelf well.  He said it was a false choice between the heath of the nation and the strength of the economy, and he told one couple that they should not have to choose between paying rent or paying for food. "You should not have to sacrifice anything," he said.  "Not just because it's the fair thing you be taken care of, your entire family, and every family in your circumstance. But because it's best for the whole country. The entire economy. It's not just doing a favor for any individual."  Biden showed empathy, knowledge, concern, and an ability to level with the American voter.  In other words, he was everything Trump is not.
Unfortunately, Biden is not one thing Trump is - fluently savvy.  Because of his stammer, Biden had trouble putting his words together even as he was able to convey what he meant, and his attempts to number his points recalled characters in a John Hughes movie numbering and lettering points alternatively (1, B, 3 . . .).  At one point Biden, a private citizen, referred to a meeting in his private home with his campaign advisers as being in "the White House," as if he were already President.  
On that last observation, though, when you think about it, Biden, in a sense, is already a President.  He's a shadow President, much like the Leader of the Opposition in the British Parliament is a shadow Prime Minister (although, at this point, I don't think there's much of an opposition left for Labour's Jeremy Corbyn to lead over there), and as a shadow President, Biden is certainly acting like one.  And only Biden's sharpest detractors - also known as Bernie bros - could possibly find fault in his efforts to present himself as ready to lead.     
Biden still has obstacles - plenty of them.  Trump is using the crisis to promote himself.  He hopes to put his illegible signature on relief checks, and he's already putting his name on government mailings with guidelines for handling coronavirus the way he put his name on buildings.  In fact, as with buildings, he's putting his name on something he had nothing to do with.  (I got one of the postcards about coronavirus the government sent out wit h Trump's name on it; I threw it out.) He won't stop his self-promotional daily briefings, and the broadcast media won't stop airing them. The primaries coming up for April have mostly been delayed until June, and the Democratic convention has been postponed until August.  This, alas, gives Bernie Sanders an excuse to stay in a Democratic presidential nomination campaign he knows he cannot win.  And there's the problem Biden has with Bernie bros themselves - they literally hate him.  They may even hate him more than they hate Trump.  Biden is going to have to cultivate more mainstream Democratic voters; persuading Bernie bros to support him is out of the question.
Biden seems to be holding up well for now.  Despite his deficiencies, he led Trump by nine points in the latest Fox News poll, and in that same poll he led by even larger margins in the swing countries that could decide the election.  I would guess that, as John Nance Garner, Franklin Roosevelt's vice original presidential running mate, told presidential candidate Roosevelt in 1932, all he has to do is stay alive until Election Day.     

1 comment:

Steve said...

Update: On the same day this blog entry was posted, Jeremy Corbyn was voted out of his position as leader of the Britsh Labour Party.