T-Minus 60 Days and Counting

With election day just two months away, we have finally hit the stretch drive. Not quite the two-minute warning, mind you; we won’t get there till October. But there is some very encouraging news. With the exception of a single poll from Emerson – usually a very reliable pollster – which showed Trump within two points of Biden, the rest of the polling has Biden up anywhere from 6 to 11 points. In the all-important battleground states, Fox News just published several polls that show Biden with fairly significant leads in Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Overall, the RCP average has him up nationally at 7.2 points. And that’s AFTER the Republican fright fest we saw last week.

Much has been made of the violence we’ve seen on our TV screens. And let’s face it; it doesn’t play well with many. It gives Trump an opening – perhaps his only – to recast this election on his terms. But the problem he has is that apparently, despite all his huffing and puffing, a majority of Americans aren’t buying the carnage message. I grew up in the suburbs. We may be overtaxed, but we’re fine and have been for quite some time. The idea that a Biden presidency will lead to our destruction is comical. And I submit that the only people who might be taken in by that propaganda are the very same people who voted for Trump in the first place and are going to pull the lever for him again this year. Which leads me to the point I want to make and the one that the Biden campaign needs to understand if it wants to succeed this fall.

Look, it was nice that Biden condemned the looting and the violence that has, sadly, marred what would otherwise be peaceful protests. I give him an E for effort. And, yes, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken a hit in the polling. But that hit has been mainly along party lines. A majority of Democratic voters still have a positive view of the movement with most independents split evenly. The primary reason for the slippage is because of Republican voters who are taking their cues from this president.

As I noted in my last piece, there doesn’t seem to be any connection with the downtick in BLM and Biden’s overall polling. If anything, Biden has been the most resilient challenger to an incumbent president we’ve seen in quite some time. At no point in the entire campaign has he trailed. Think about that for a moment and try not to be astonished. This might explain why Trump has been practically apoplectic over the last couple of weeks. He’s given up fighting the pandemic, and I suspect his advisors have informed him there isn’t going to be any V-shaped recovery before the election, so he’s playing the only card left in his hand.

Welcome to the Purge 2.0, and Biden must do everything humanly possible to avoid participating. Every minute Biden spends responding to President Doom and Gloom is a minute he’s not spending pointing out to voters just how in over his head Trump is. I’ve heard supposedly lucid people suggest that Biden should co-opt Trump’s law and order message. Why on Earth would he do that? He doesn’t need to. Biden is already winning even with Smaug spewing flames everywhere. Trump is counting on Biden to waste his time defending himself. And it would be the greatest case of political malpractice were he to comply.

Biden must not take the bait; he mustn’t be distracted. He must make this election a referendum on Trump. Period! When Trump visits a city in which some local businesses were looted, Biden should respond by visiting the same Goodyear plant that Trump tweeted his supporters to boycott over his stupid MAGA hat – which isn’t even made in America, mind you – and pledge to the workers that if he’s elected he will never pull such a stunt and endanger their jobs. When Trump threatens to cut off federal funding to Democratic cities, Biden should travel to Florida and warn senior citizens that if this president has his way the Social Security Trust Fund will be bankrupt by 2023. When Trump calls Biden a “trojan horse” for the radical left, Biden should remind the country that over the last five and a half months, more than one hundred thousand small businesses have gone under while more than 15 million people have lost their jobs.

I think it’s time to admit a painful truth: that all the effort the DNC put into converting “moderate” Republicans into Democratic voters two weeks ago, while laudable, was a waste of talent and resources. It’s time to face up to reality. There will be no come to Jesus moment for these people. They’re not going to have an epiphany. Sure, some of them might stay home but 90 percent of them will vote the way they’ve always voted. Put succinctly, John Kasich and Jeff Flake do NOT represent the GOP anymore and the Lincoln Project was never anything more than a feel-good movement for wayward conservatives. Like it or not, this party belongs to Trump, lock, stock and barrel. And the election will hinge on which candidate can best turn out his base.

That’s why Biden needs to keep the focus always and squarely on Trump. Ignore all the static from the nervous Nellies who will urge Biden to switch gears and play defense. That would be like taking a knee with the ball on your opponent’s 20 yard line. The only time you do that is when the clock is under a minute and you’re ahead by three touchdowns. Neither of those is true here.

The fact is there’s still plenty of time left for Biden to blow this thing. His biggest challenge will come at the end of the month with the first debate, which is going to be moderated by Chris Wallace. Look, I like Wallace. He’s a good journalist who’s well respected in this field. But I’m sure it didn’t sit well with him that Biden blew off an invitation to do a one on one interview with him over the summer. I’d be very concerned about that going in.

Word has it that Biden also intends to fact check Trump in real time every time he tells a lie. He might as well count the grains of sand in the Sahara. I don’t know what genius put that idea into his head, but there’s no way in hell he should even think about doing such a colossally stupid thing. FYI, the majority of people who support Trump probably know he’s full of shit. Pointing it out won’t change their minds, nor will it do anything to win over the roughly 5 to 6 percent of the electorate that’s still undecided in this country. They are looking for someone to lead us out of the nightmare we’re currently in. So far, Biden’s appeal among voters is that he’s NOT Trump. Spending ninety minutes on a debate stage going tit for tat with a compulsive liar could severely damage that appeal and turn this race into a nail biter. And we all remember what happened in 2016 when Hillary couldn’t close the deal.

Again, message discipline is key. Biden must use his time wisely to remind the viewers that Trump’s incompetence is the sole reason why we’re the epicenter of the pandemic, why more than 180,000 Americans needlessly died, why our economy is in ruin and why there’s so much unrest in the streets. He must avoid the temptation to chase the rabbit down the rabbit hole. Of all Biden’s foibles, going off on a tangent is his worst.

We’re about to find out just how good or bad a candidate Joe Biden truly is. For the sake of humanity, he’d better be the former.

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

What say you, the people?