Both of these opinion pieces from The Wall Street Journal on September 9 make the same point. President Trump is clearly behind in the polls and is behind due to his own behavior. Rather than recognize that he barely eked out a win in 2016 and thus needed to expand his support, he has chosen over the past four years to consolidate that support and alienate the many in the middle who may have voted for him reluctantly in 2016 and now would never do so. So what’s going on?
In 2020, the true year of living dangerously, Americans are not choosing who can best lead the nation. They are voting for or against who is least or most likely to get us in trouble. People are running from the danger and as of now, as William A. Galston points out in his piece, Trump is viewed by many as the danger.
This says a lot about the place the United States finds itself in 2020.
Even in the worst of times (like 2008, for example), we like to think that we are choosing between two qualified contestants for the presidency. This year is something else again. For Mr. Trump, it is mainly a referendum on his performance with the highs being his handling of the pre-covid economy and lows his bombastic show business style so unbecoming in the leader of a free country. Trump is the leader from central casting of a banana republic or an Eastern European country (like Fredonia). He’s got many people around him who will be doing “ten years in Leavenworth or eleven years in twelve-worth or five to ten in Woolworth.” He seems to liken himself to a Mafia boss complete with the Corleone-like cast of family from Jared (Tom Hayden) to Ivanka (Connie). It is not that he is viewed as incompetent. He is viewed by many as dangerous to the well-being of the country.
Mr. Biden, thus far, has come on as an avuncular father figure from central casting. I guess some see his hesitant speech as endearing. I find it worrying. I am not at all confident in his fitness for duty although I am wholly confident in Trump’s unfitness for the presidency. That’s my choice? I am afraid so.
For now, Trump is behind, but I believe that he will be closing the gap over the ensuing weeks using every trick in his book of dirty tricks to undermine Mr. Biden. It may all come down to the debates. What will the format be? Will they be on the same stage allowing direct eyeball-to-eyeball comparison of the fitness of each for the office? I hope so. The American people need a side-by-side comparison of these two old men to determine which is the least dangerous. I fear it has come to this. Who is least likely to collapse the economy, get us past the corona pandemic, keep us out of war, and improve our status in the world? This is truly a choice between a used Ford and a used Chevy. There are no new Mercedes on the lot.
Drive on America. Check your mirrors. Someone might be gaining on you.