They warn generals not to fight the last war. The same admonition might apply to presidential races. Donald Trump was out on the White House lawn attacking Joe Biden with his usual battery of epithets — ‘dummy,’ ‘loser,’ and so forth — and it sounded like déjà vu all over again. Even as he derides Biden as ‘slower than he used to be,’ it is Trump who is starting to look as though he’s losing his mojo.
In 2016, Trump ran a guerrilla campaign in which he was able to sneak up on the enemy, first the Republicans vying for the nomination, then Hillary Clinton. No one took Trump that seriously.
Now Trump’s biggest obstacle to winning the presidential race is that he already did once before. He has no real accomplishments to point to other than his ability to foam at the mouth about his detractors. There is no wall. No infrastructure plan. No replacement for Obamacare. Instead, he has embarked upon a multi-front tariff war that is largely targeting his own followers even as Trump brays about his illusory victories over countries such as Mexico. Add in the daily dose of hot air that Trump ventilates on a daily basis and you have a recipe for political disaster in 2020.
Enter Biden. Today, Biden signaled to the Democratic base that he is going for broke against Trump. He released the remarks that he’s giving in Iowa this morning at 6 a.m. As the Washington Post observed, he got a jump on Trump ‘guiding cable news coverage in a way that Trump often does in 280-character increments on Twitter.’ Biden is also stealing a leaf from Trump by mocking him as an out-of-touch elitist. He bashes his purblind refusal to acknowledge the obvious when it comes to climate change: ‘If he was just another rich guy sitting in his gold-plated apartment in Manhattan tweeting about how those pointy-headed scientists don’t know anything, it wouldn’t matter. But he’s president.’ Biden hits the same theme about Trump’s phony populism and catering to plutocrats by declaring that when it comes to tariffs ‘the cashiers at Target see what’s going on. They know more about economic than Trump.’ On Twitter, he ridiculed Trump: ‘President Trump is bringing his secret one-page agreement with Mexico to Iowa. The Iowans being crushed by his tariffs would like to see it.’ The most effective that Biden can wield against Trump isn’t scorn — the tack that Hillary Clinton adopted — but ridicule. To puncture the pomposity of Trump, to depict him as a wealthy blowhard swanning about his private clubs and golf courses is the key to electoral victory.
In focusing on Trump, Biden is, of course, also trying to ignore the rest of the Democratic field. Thanks to his own inability to control his temper and emotions, Trump has in effect been acting as a full-time campaign aide for Biden by bashing him at every turn. For now, it looks the 2020 presidential contest has begun even before a single primary — and Biden looks more formidable than ever. The latest polling indicates that Biden would crush Trump — the Hill reports ‘In a national head-to-head matchup, the poll found Biden taking 53 percent against 40 percent for Trump, with the poll’s assistant director describing it as a “landslide” margin.’ This aligns with my prediction a month ago to the Spectator’s Curt Mills in an Americano podcast that Biden would romp to victory against Trump. The more that Trump calumniates Biden, the more certain you can be that he’s running scared. And if anyone has a lot to be frightened about, it’s Trump.