Open with your second best joke, and close with your best Rule of Comedy
You know, you can spot ’em a mile away. They’re the ones who are so self contained and oblivious that they can sit there and watch a car skid off of the road in a rain storm, and then still try to do a power skid at 90 mph through the same curve. And the thing of it is, they’ll do the same damn thing again the next time around, in identical circumstances.
Donald Trump just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t realize that his presidency is a freak of nature, a one time confluence of events that were a perfect alignment of a fluke. Like winning the championship at the buzzer with a 3/4 court shot, it can never be duplicated. Trump was the perfect “What the fuck” candidate at the exact moment people were fed up with the status quo, going up against a candidate who couldn’t even unite her own party, and still he lost. Until a hidden hand swept in and moved the goalposts.
But in Donald Trump’s mind, he’s the greatest political genius since, oh, I don’t know, since ever? In Donald Trump’s mind, all he has to do to recreate the miracle of 2016 is to do exactly the same thing all over again, only more. Because, as a failed reality show host, Trump knows better than anybody that the longer the show runs, the wilder you have to get to sustain interest.
But like that 3/4 court shot, Trump doesn’t realize that he can never recreate those exact conditions again. 2016 was his one shot at fortune and glory, and he made the most of it. In 2016 Trump went up against the perfect candidate. Trump didn’t have to be popular, although he was to his hardest core base, simply because Hillary Clinton was so unpopular with every Republican in the world. In 2016, Republicans would have voted for a serial sexual predator rather than another Clinton, and it turns out that they did. And Clinton carried just enough baggage with Democrats that when they thought it was in the bag, they just didn’t bother to show up to carry it over the finish line.
Trump was able to drag Clinton down into the same most pit of unpopularity that he wallowed in nationally, simply because she was already almost there. And even if Bernie Sanders had won the 2016 primaries, I find it likely that Trump still would have won, simply because Sanders was such a divisive character in the Democratic party that Democrats would not have united strongly enough behind him either, for stealing Hillary’s shot at history.
But you’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. This isn’t 2016, it’s 2020. Hillary isn’t going to be on the ballot anymore, and Bernie isn’t very likely to be either. In 2016, nobody actually took you seriously, not even your own party, but in 2020, you’re as serious as a heart attack, buddy. Nobody is taking you or your racist base for granted anymore. And while the Democrats are still falling in love with their individual primary candidates, they seem to have gotten the memo. Polling continues to show that ehe Democrats as a party will fall in line with whomever the candidate is this time.
Trump’s shtick is getting old. And even Trump’s supporters are honest enough to admit it. When interviewed by reporters, while they still continue to support Trump, they are the first to say, “Hell, I like the guy, and he’s doing a good job, when he can bother to do the job. But I sure wish that they’d tale his goddamn Twitter account away from him, and I wish he’d cut it out with all of that nasty shit he says, and just do the job.” I’ve said repeatedly before that while Trump Fatigue is real, it isn’t the Democrats that are suffering from it, it’s the pocket of Trump supporters who put him over the top in 2016.
So, Trump is miscalculating on almost every fundamental level in 2020, but he’s miscalculating on another tactic that could come back to be even more damaging. For all of his shortcomings and gaffes, the simple fact is that Joe Biden is no Hillary Clinton. And nobody, Democrat or Republican, wants to see Trump going after Joe Biden’s family. But Trump sees any opponent as another Hillary Clinton, with the attendant ill will, so he and his dimwit howler monkey, Rudy Ghouliani, are hell bent for leather to pursue this tactic. And the deafening silence from the GOP caucus shows how uncomfortable they are with it, along with its probable illegality.
Biden isn’t Clinton, but Trump doesn’t get that. While Biden may not be the one to make Republicans rethink the error of their misbegotten ways, he doesn’t engender massive ill will among Republicans in the visceral way that Clinton did. If anything, his gaffes tend towards the whimsical, not the insulting. As I’ve said before, he’s everybody’s uncle who, at a backyard cookout says, “Come over here and pull on my finger kid.” And he’s the kind of family man that Republicans like to think that they are themselves, and attacking his family, especially after his personal tragedy with Beau, isn’t going to play well with Republicans either. There just isn’t the ill will and animus towards Biden in the GOP that there was with Clinton.
And this approach will be poison with Democrats. While Biden may not inflame the passions of the farther left, they’re comfortable with him, and he’ll be a comfortable “caretaker” for the transition as long as he can get Trump out of there, and he can. Democrats, Biden supporters or not, are already protective of him. Kamala Harris shot up in the polls after attacking Biden’s civil rights record in the first debate. I warned her the day before the second debate to not repeat herself, but she did, and hasn’t recovered from the drop yet. In her second attack, she made it seem personal, and Democrats have been sending a strong signal since day one that they don’t want personal attacks in these primaries. Trump’s attacking Biden’s family will only help to coalesce Democratic support behind him, since they can smell desperation from a mile off at this point.
And the really nifty thing is that this tactic won’t work for Trump against Warren either. While more centrist Democrats may not be buying first class tickets on the Warren train as I have, they’re seriously down with some economy class seating. Polling shows that Biden and Warren are running away when you combine their polling as first or second choice candidates. Democrats are not going to fall for personal attacks against Warren any more than they will against Biden, because Trump himself is the great unifier. And while nobody on the GOP side is going to line up for Medicare For All, they don’t hate her personally. And engendering personal hatred is the only way that Trump can drag an opponent down low enough into the mud to motivate his base.
So, Trump, being Trump, is going to go right on ahead with his delusional plan of following the 2016 battle plan to another glorious upset victory. And the GOP, being spineless sycophants, is going to let Trump be Trump. And meanwhile, the Democrats will quietly go about their business, picking a candidate, and shoring up support for the ticket, sing His Lowness as exhibit one of why we’re all here. Trump can’t win in 2020 unless he can make his Democratic opponent as personally repugnant as he is, turning off Democrats in the process. And we don’t have any candidates like that this time around. In fact, we’re double checking right now.
To know the future, look to the past. before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen