BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT
Now that we’ve gotten over some initial hiccups with President Donald J. Trump’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic here in the United States (courtesy of the People’s Republic of China), let us just marvel at how well the president has fallen into his role as leader. Yes, his critics have attacked him for the first week or so of the outbreak, where he downplayed the severity of the disease here in the US. Of course, he could have done better.
The fact remains, though, that the president listened to those of us sending inputs to the administration that this COVID-19 outbreak was not a joke. And while I was upset last week that the president (wrongly) tempted audiences into believing that there was a chance that he would reopen the economy by Easter, the president did not apparently act on his impulse to engage in such a shortsighted suggestion. Instead, the president has remained calm, he has remained stoic, and he has acted.
I think that’s the key here. Whatever flaws the man may have (he is, like all of us, flawed), the president has consistently acted. This is in stark contrast to his opponents, whether they be former Florida Governor JEB! Bush or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. America’s political class members are predictable, unoriginal (for the most part), archetypal talkers. They are overhyped as “thinkers” and their flaws are woefully overlooked by a pliant corporate press. What’s more, most everyone–from ordinary voters to rent-seeking corporatists to the heads of foreign governments, notably countries like Russia and China–knows exactly how most American politicians will act during a crisis.
Trump’s enemies have consistently underestimated him (or, “misunderestimated” him in George W. Bush-speak). To paraphrase Sun Tzu: even the incorrect action is preferable to inaction. Since President Trump is a doer rather than a talker (though, as these press conferences and his endless public rallies have shown, he can be quite the honest talker), just when the superficial and feckless political class believes they have a “leg up” on Trump, he outmaneuvers them. I’ve often heard Trump likened to the road runner and his opponents to Wile Coyote. This is an apt description. He is constantly running around these rivals.
Because we are in an endless news cycle during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, with a highly maneuverable and unorthodox president–who loves being in the spotlight–there are few politicians in the United States who could help to best Trump. Enter former Vice-President Joe Biden. As I have noted, that Biden was the last vice-president under the last “successful” (and strangely popular, at least according to our media) Democratic Party president, Barack Obama, should have meant he’d have been a shoo-in for the nomination during this year’s presidential election. Yet, the Democratic Party of today resembles the Republican Party of 2012: broken, fractured, and more interested in fighting itself and being ideologically pure than actually implementing a winning electoral agenda.
Joe Biden hasn’t actually won the nomination yet. But it is increasingly unlikely that his openly socialist opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), will be able to beat Biden at the ballot box. It also sounds as though Bernie has already thrown in the towel, even before the Democratic National Convention. So, it’s betting odds that Biden is the nominee after this summer’s convention (though, loose talk of swapping Biden for the hapless New York Governor Andrew Cuomo abounds). And with Biden as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, the voter is presented with a stark option: will the voters keep with President Trump who, while they may not like all of his idiosyncrasies–and while they may be annoyed the economy has truly tanked under Trump–the voters would rather have the stable stewardship of Trump rather than the clearly senile empty vessel driftocracy of Biden?
Last week, despite what the media was telling us, Trump’s approval rating was very good. Of course, that was when people were still hopeful of the economy reopening sooner rather than later. Plus, the economy had not yet absorbed the impacts of the initial damage that had been done to the economy when it began contracting. At the start of this week, the media and the president’s Democratic rivals rejoiced as the president’s approval numbers declined and new polling was released showing that Biden had a nine-point lead over Trump.
To the first point: any other politician would be staring at the end of his presidency right now. That Trump has proven flexible and visibly in command at all times over the last few weeks; that he has taken every step legislatively he could possibly short of declaring martial law, means that Trump has significant advantages over Biden. One must also remember that the socio-economic situation in the United States is now going to be very fluid moving forward. Unfortunately, all of your models are broken–and will be so long as the economy remains in the dumps (which will remain in the doldrums so long as there is no viable cure or treatment protocol on-hand for COVID-19). One week, I’d expect the president’s approval ratings to be doing well, the next not-so-good, and the week after that back to being better. Don’t let the media shape your perception on weekly basis. Look at the longer term.
Next, the more that Joe Biden speaks publicly, the less confidence he will inspire. Sure, African-American voters like Biden. The older Liberals love Uncle Joe, too. But the young and the restless who comprise Bernie Sanders’ coalition hate Joe. Few of them will turnout to vote for Joe in November–many more will likely vote for Trump out of spite (as they did in 2016). If Trump remained stationary; if he did not act unlike any politician in my lifetime, he’d be a goner. But Trump is being Trump–and that’s why he’s looking good (all things considering).
Joe Biden cannot adapt. He is not prepared. And it will be proven when he goes up against Trump in the debates. The Left thinks that just by hollering more insults and being angrier than Trump appears will get them the victory. That’s not Trump’s secret. There is a certain real-world likability about Trump. Trump gets things done. Americans like that. Trump is navigating this crisis like FDR navigated the Great Depression. And remember: even FDR’s own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, told Congress in 1937 that the New Deal failed to stop the Great Depression. Yet, to this day, FDR is venerated and many seek to reenact his programs.
Confidence, personality, and visible acts of leadership will win Trump reelection. Joe Biden is a turgid mess. He will be more threatening than he would have been under normal economic conditions, but that is only because of the situation. If he gets any considerable air-time, even in carefully scripted interviews as we saw recently with The View, Biden totally collapses. If put side-by-side with Trump, as Joe Rogan exclaimed recently, Trump will “eat Biden alive!” It won’t even be close. The stark images of Biden bumbling and Trump trouncing will be too much to allow for the majority of Americans to vote–even if we are at 30 percent unemployment (again, FDR was reelected after having endured 24.7 percent unemployment).
If Trump were a Bush, the Left would do to him what they successfully did to Herbert Hoover, FDR’s much-maligned Republican predecessor. Instead, I expect, if things keep going as they are, Trump will act as FDR to Biden’s Alf Landon. Now, the media will tell you that Trump’s fundraising numbers are down. But that’s because he’s managing a national crisis right now. Also, we’re still many months out from an election at a time when the economy is drastically retracting. I’d expect some crocodile arms right now. Plus, Trump proved that he doesn’t need to win a national election with a large campaign operation. Of course, money will be needed. The point is that these are not telltale signs that Trump is going to lose–for now.
Trump’s best asset is his movement. If he keeps hustling, he will be competitive to the point that he might be able to get just enough votes in the electoral college to win reelection. If the president gets complacent then, yes, Biden will look attractive to many. On his own, though, Biden will appear as doddering old fool. Biden and his team will argue that they’re bringing in a new wave of young and rising talent. I don’t know, though, if that argument will be sufficient in this time of crisis. Though, it might. We will have to see where the electorate is around September and October to tell for sure.
But don’t buy the media hype right now. Voter turnout is key and the Republicans, even if they’re not fundraising as well as the Democrats, remain far more enthusiastic about their candidate than the Democrats are. Everyone knows it. That will determine who will win reelection as far as I’m concerned.