Trump’s most catastrophic error: Running every election as if a wingnut GOP primary

That Trump cannot shift tactics (indeed worsen as desperation grows) against a different foe in different times will do him in.

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Image Credit: LA Progressive

Spoiled by deviant wins, the Fixated-in-chief risks all by dancing the same, maniacal jig

Derangement aside (if possible), Trump is one dumb politician. That’s related but separate from being our worst president. The first is being too dumb to keep re-election competitive: the second is singular unfitness to govern, a spectacular screw-up on his first big pandemic/jobs crisis. No wonder he’s plagued with an unshakeable 42% support ceiling. That’s what comes from only talking to yourself and deluded base. That’s what comes from repeating the same tiresome shtick – as if boneheaded replays define stable genius.

Bottom line: 2020 is manifestly different from 2016, and only a fool ignores this fact. Being an incumbent now flush with mouth-slapping lies, broken promises, and crazy-talk is opposite to being a political blank slate, boasting his greatest qualification was never successfully being elected to anything. That’s a lesson for the ages. Having no voting, government or legislative experience was branded a positive, however bizarre the logic. Invisible to this day is how Trump could alone fix anything by axing agreements, reversing (not replacing workable policies, like health care) and reducing your predecessor to shooting gallery only worth riddling with negatives.

In retrospect, incumbency removes this core, jaw-dropping argument: “I don’t know much, connive on taxes and deals, cheat partners and vendors alike, abuse women, and am beholden to Putin and oligarchs, but elect me because I am rich and an outsider, so automatically less corrupt than any elected goon.” Well, Trump is now less rich, despite emolument payoffs, but he now dominates the corruption sweepstakes. Even with a too narrowly-restricted impeachment, unpunished Trump crimes leave what A. Johnson and B. Clinton together managed in the dusty dust.

Treating every election the same, and re-election as equivalent to the singular ‘16 GOP primary, invite an electoral shellacking. Trump’s elemental blunder is of such biblical proportions that his election disgrace could help secure his legacy along with high crimes and misdemeanors. Simply treating 2020 against Status Quo Joe as if comparable to battling a greatly disliked Hilary bespeaks a crazed rigidity that must drive his advisers nuts. Even those of us who reject Biden’s insufficient centrist reform know who he is and what he will – and won’t do. Gender differences aside, and they are alas no small factor, Biden as a general election pick is no Hillary – and without the baggage that so weighed her down. To delude yourself otherwise is to dismiss all polling and vectors – even make Trumpian assumptions.

Where fools rush in

The truth is, no politician survives without adapting to curve-balls, let alone hits and errors: that’s why having few solid principles hardly impedes 80% of politicians. Sure, spewing out direct contradictions to early promises, impaling yourself as hypocrite, can hurt. Though aligned with the mushy center, Biden will be less vulnerable than the pretzel-twisted Trump, racked with more contradictions and hypocritical reversals than a guilty sociopath.

Bernie Sanders, the steadfast, principled warrior, revealed how drastically the 2020 primary battleground had shifted since from 2016 when DNC machinations put a heavy thumb on the scales. In 2016 more younger, progressive, adventurous Dems came out in force and Bernie more than matched Hilary who played it so safe she had no vision. Bernie hasn’t changed (bless his heart) but more terrified, right-leaning Dems decided Biden was now safer as Trump-beater. You don’t have to agree to understand why Biden’s popularity took command on his own, thus needing less DNC jiggering.

That Trump cannot shift tactics (indeed worsen as desperation grows) against a different foe in different times will do him in. How does any competitive politician blindly deny a raging pandemic, job dislocations and racial protests? This campaign bozo not only can’t pivot, he can’t stop wounding himself. Look how the last weeks have alienated tons of centrists 14 times without winning new fans:

1) aligning himself with QAnon (making Pence look almost normal) and wacko conspiracies about anti-Trump, cannibalistic (child eating), satanic pedophiles in government;

2) dumping on Goodyear Tire (in key Ohio – where he’s behind!), calling for a BOYCOTT because the firm dared restrain partisan (MAGA) hats at work (with very unRepublican government manipulation);

3) demonizing Miles Taylor, the courageous, ex-Homeland Security official who’s gutting the self-absorbed president in detail (re: mosquito-length attention span, irrelevant distractions, seriously wanting to trade “dirty” Puerto Rico, full of U.S. citizens, for clean Greenland, with few);

4) assaulting the friggin’ postal system, threatening funding, openly exposing bad political motives;

5) sustaining his counterproductive, anti-mail-in voting filibuster – all about disenfranchising voters;

6) ominously threatening to order federal marshals to interfere with voting and violate state oversight;

7) still fixated about defying basic medical/pandemic advice (distancing, mask-wearing), claiming fantasy triumphs while the disease spreads, still irrationally pushing ineffective anti-malarial drugs;

8) attacking the FDA for not rushing untested trials so a “miracle” vaccine will save him by election day.

9) never objecting, let alone pressuring Putin on Russian bounties paid for killing U.S. soldiers;

10) claiming Biden wasn’t born in Scranton because his family moved when he was eight;

11) claiming Biden is senile, his mind “shot” and “everyone knows he’s not there,” so compromised this “Trojan horse” will be a pawn for every leftwing radical –despite that progressives got far less time than pro-Biden Republicans;

12) regurgitating insane birther nonsense, laughably against Kamala Harris;

13) repeating the FBI-refuted nonsense Obama spied on him during the campaign;

14) threatening to defy election results, refuse to leave, while “deserving” an unconstitutional third term.

And the list goes on and on, as Trump endlessly trolls the media, blind to how every outrage offends centrists and wins him no new voters. Name one election-positive tactic since February, by Trump or the rightwing, that upped his standing against Biden. Name anything (lies, stupidities, delusions) that improved credibility among the undecided 5-10%. Name one ploy that offset a dozen self-inflicted blunders, dwarfing every other politician, let alone memorable presidents in history, non-entities like Fillmore, van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Pierce, Hayes or Arthur. Even against such heroic, ground-shaking giants,Trump is a pipsqueak, shrinking by every juvenile tweet.

Will reality will out?

Imagine his own, hair-pulling advisers: “You own your base, glued to every grievance; they will not forsake you, even martyr you if and when you ever die. But you need centrists to win even the rigged Electoral College. Only losers ignore undecideds, especially when behind by 9% points. Even winning half of those up for grabs won’t do it. Expand your voters or you lose in a rout.”

Perhaps equally dumb first term presidents once existed, equally inept at re-election strategy. Certainly, other racist bigots reigned, like A. Johnson or C. Arthur, demonizing all 19th C Chinese immigrants. Other deranged figures (like Joe McCarthy) could only talk to fellow nutters. But none openly courted white supremacists. Many have lied about things small and large (Bush/Cheney on Iraq, LBJ on Vietnam). Other presidents were fixated, defensive, gagged on good advice, or didn’t understand logic, science, medicine or technology. But no one matches the full witches brew of Trump’s failings, laced lately with irascible resistance to hard, undeniable facts that imperil his own status.

All those underwhelming if deceased presidents can sigh in relief: Trump looks to slime forth as both our dumbest politician/campaigner, inept even as demagogue. Even if shellacked in November – so clearly that sending in the lawyers will be a fool’s errand – the Trump Trauma will not heal quickly. We face ripples for decades to come, if only due to undying rightwing judges. Just the fact this bully of unfitness got elected once – and then wasn’t impeached for conspicuous crimes – will forever stain the land of the free and the home of the brave. As a democratic country, with high sounding foundational rhetoric about justice, we have flunked – and worse still he actually managed to get himself re-nominated. More’s the pity. More’s the permanent shock.

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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