So Donald Trump and co. say they’re going to have an optimistic convention. Optimistic?! About what? Roughly 80 percent of Americans—a percentage that by definition includes millions of Republicans—think the country’s headed in the wrong direction. Optimism will really tap into the national mood.
I’ll believe it when I see it. Trump—who, of course, is speaking all four nights, and probably wants a Charles Foster Kane-sized poster of himself as backdrop—doesn’t do optimism. He does carnage.
And he does lies. Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. Behind nationally by 8 or 10 points and by 5 to 7 points in most key swing states, he has to win back a certain percentage of white suburban voters. He’s not going to do that with optimism. The only way he can do it is to lie comprehensively about Joe Biden in four broad categories.
Category one will be that Biden is corrupt. You know—that he, Trump, is the victim of the greatest witch hunt in American history, an illegal investigation by the deep state of his 2016 campaign that was ordered and overseen by Biden and Barack Obama themselves. All lies, obviously. No, more than lies. A 100 percent inversion of the truth, which is that Trump cheated in 2016 (and obviously plans to cheat again).
Will this get traction? If it hasn’t by now, it’s hard to see why it would, but nothing prevents Trump from making up some new lie. But now that even Senate Republicans have implicitly agreed that Trump lied to Robert Mueller in his written testimony, Democrats ought to be able to fight this one to at worst a draw.
Category two will be that Biden wants antifa to destroy your town. Turn it into Portland. Most places should be so lucky: Portland is beautiful, but the protests continue there, and things got violent again Saturday night.
Trump is going to run a law-and-order campaign that will make Richard Nixon look like, well, George McGovern. And it might work. Some white people scare easily, especially those who never go to cities and don’t have many interactions with people who don’t look like them.
Category three will be that Biden is an empty vessel, like John Gill in that classic Star Trek Nazi episode, and Bernie and AOC will really be running the country. This, too, is going to be insanely untruthful. Trump has already said Biden is going to “double, triple, quadruple your taxes.” This of course is based on nothing.
Factcheck.org had this to say: “Biden proposes to raise an additional $4 trillion in taxes over the next decade, but the increases would fall mainly on very high-income earners and corporations, and would not nearly double, let alone triple or quadruple, people’s taxes at any income level (on average), according to analyses of Biden’s plan by the Penn Wharton Budget Model.” As we all know, Wharton is the greatest school in the world, very difficult to get into, accepting only super-geniuses, even if they did have Joe Shapiro take their entrance exam, so it can’t be wrong!
Whether this lie gains any purchase will come down to how credible Biden’s denials seem. A generation or two ago, “Democrats are going to raise your taxes” was a sure-fire winner. That may have changed. Obama fought his way through it in both 2008 and 2012—the latter race, after he had actually raised them on some people. And we see poll after poll in which large majorities say the rich should be paying more. But the lies will be constant and vicious.
Category four will be that Biden—like, well, John Gill in that famous Star Trek Nazi episode—is non compos mentis. In yet another classic instance of Trumpworld projection, Rudy is walking point here. Look at this tweet he sent out last week:
He followed this up two days later by posting on YouTube an hour-long conversation he had with two doctors examining “Joe Biden’s cognitive state.” No, I didn’t watch it (and I’m not linking to it). I perform many services for my devoted readers, but that’s a bridge too far.
This attack should fail as long as Biden stays healthy and together. His convention speech probably convinced sane people that he’s fine. Non-sane people, led by Mr. Congressional Medal of Honor, made a conspiracy out of his allegedly disappearing watch.
So those are the avenues we can anticipate. They may spring new ones on us. For example, Biden got out of going to Vietnam because of an asthma diagnosis. It would be so very Trump, and so very Jerome Corsi and so very Republican generally, for Mr. Bone Spurs to call Biden a draft dodger.
To the extent that Republicans do try optimism, the play will be to turn back the clock. Not to the 1950s, but to February, before the virus hit, when Trump was just a fascist and not yet a fascist who also happened to have overseen literally the most incompetent and deadly response to the pandemic in the entire world.
He thinks, as I wrote not long ago, that we can defeat the virus by force of will; by sending kids and teachers back to school and filling football stadiums and acting as if everything is normal. If football season happens (except in some key places where we already know it isn’t happening, like Ann Arbor and Madison and Columbus) and there are no huge outbreaks, that alone may convince some of those white suburban voters that we’re past the worst of it. Of course the experts say the worst is yet to come. About that, we’ll just have to see what the reality is as Election Day approaches.
In the meantime, this is going to be the weirdest, sickest convention of all time. Inevitably, the Addams Family members are all speaking, Morticia from the Garden of Thorns she erected in place of Jackie Kennedy’s Rose Garden. Such a considerate use of taxpayer dollars while thousands of people are losing their businesses and waiting in hunger lines.
It has train wreck written all over it. But part of me is terrified it’ll work. You know how everyone says Biden is farther ahead now than Hillary was? It’s not really true. Here’s a poll from Aug. 23, 2016 that had Clinton up 12 points. Clinton’s lead only really collapsed because of what James Comey did 11 days before the election.
This year’s Comey is Bill Barr, who has blatantly told us that he and hired hand John Durham are planning on delivering some news before Election Day to help Trump win. The president and his fixers will move heaven and earth to steal this election, and if they fail at that, they’ll move heaven and earth to invalidate it and override it. Biden and the Democrats need to be ready for anything.