Where’s Joe?

Where’s Joe?


Leonard Zwelling

         Michelle Cottle in The New York Times on April 30 describes Joe Biden as “lurking.” Essentially Joe Biden is assuming a Rose Garden strategy while not being in office. He’s letting Trump self-destruct while the former vice president secludes in his basement in Delaware. His one appearance was Friday on Morning Joe when he denied the accusations of sexual assault from 1993. How wise is this strategy?

         Not very.

         We have seen many examples of incidents that the media has indicated are the “un-doing” of Donald Trump. It dates all the way to the “birther” movement through the Hollywood Access tape and into the White House with his various scandals from porn stars to Nixon agonists. Nothing seems to stop The Donald. The coronavirus has certainly put a crimp in his armor, but make no mistake about how dangerous the current occupant of the Oval Office is. Donald Trump views himself as a winner, even if cornered away from the rally stage. He has no intention of being anything else and he will do anything (ANYTHING) to go out a winner. If Joe Biden thinks he can sit his way into the White House, he is sorely mistaken.

         So what should Biden be doing?

         First, he needs to get more time on national news outlets from NBC TV to Twitter.

         Second, he should be a weekly presence on the Sunday talk shows. He should have a regular segment called “How I Would Do It Better.”

         Third, he needs to visit, with mask in place, the various small businesses that are opening across the country even if he does not agree that these states are ready to open. He must show solidarity with real Americans while the president hides in the White House without his treasured pep rallies available to him.

         Fourth, Biden needs to be critical of the current direction taken by the White House BUT NOT by any state governor. He needs to show his support for federalism and make clear that he will respect the principles of the Constitution when he reaches the Oval Office. Americans are confused about what to do, think or feel. Biden should be leading in all three categories. Stay at home if you can and wear a mask when out; listen to the scientists; feel uneasy but not frightened. We will get past this.

         Fifth, develop your own brain trust and make them visible. Let the scientists on your team talk about the medicine. Let the economists talk about the markets. Describe how you would balance the interests of public safety with those of the jobless.

         Finally, do not relent on bashing the current president. He is not your friend, and he will turn on you in a second if he hasn’t already—“Sleepy Joe.” Call him “Fat Orange Don” and get it over with. If you want to comment on his small hands, that’s OK, too.

         It is likely that the campaign for the White House in 2020 will be the least crowded, most vicious in modern history. There may be no rallies at all. There will probably not be real conventions. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary leadership. That is not something Mr. Biden has shown in the past whether presiding over the Anita Hill hearings or voting for the Iraq War. Joe Biden is not the ideal candidate for the times, but he can rise to the occasion.

         He should name his vice president soon and if he named a few Cabinet secretaries and got them out talking on the Sunday shows, that would be wise, too. If he wants to name that African-American woman he would appoint to the Supreme Court, so be it.

         The coronavirus has changed everything and will likely change it even more in the fall. During the run-up to voting, it is not at all unlikely that the virus will make a come back and be joined by influenza. Whether or not you are of the “bad flu” camp or the “zombie apocalypse” camp about the coronavirus, the worst may be yet to come.

         Biden needs to identify what Trump has done wrong and how he would have done it differently. He needs to paint a vision of a better, healthier America once he gets in the White House. He needs to elucidate his plan for getting past the state we are in now and paint the picture for the next four years under a Biden Administration. He could remind people that there are other problems in the world and that he has fixes for them, too. Paris Accords? We go back in. The deal with Iran? Let’s reopen talks. North Korea? Put them in a box. China? It’s a new Cold War. Russia? It’s the old Cold War. The Middle East? Anyone but Jared.

         Joe Biden needs to come out of the basement in Delaware and hit the airwaves. You cannot beat something with nothing and Trump will always have something.

         Hillary Clinton demonstrated what happens when you don’t challenge Trump in every state for every vote and assume that “the people” will get you into office. She won three million more votes and what good did it do her? Biden has to win ten million more and do so in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. Get started now.

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