Biden advances by dramatic contrast with Trump’s manic, “dumb-show” stunts
Sometimes simple contrast speaks volumes, especially when common sense is set against irrationality. Normalcy sings when sane, coherent adults displace the showboating of tantrums. Like him or not, Biden’s reliance on reason, competence, tested expertise, and spirited rhetoric (“we can do this”) affirm his standing. Too early to say more, Biden already contrasts with “the other guy,” an unabashed, one-note loser insanely digging himself a bigger hole. So dimly resistant to majority public opinion, Trump accelerates his own free fall, plunging into unelectability and a raft of litigation as endless as his mayhem.
No politician, already renown for unpopularity, survives the last year. Trump blew the pandemic, froze when jobs tanked, and refused to change counter-productive rhetoric—that was all pre-election. Then, having lost badly, Trump kept up the self-inflicted losing: first by refusing to concede, then defeated by frivolous lawsuits that unearthed zero fraud—and then he truly leaped into political quick sand with “only a stolen election defeats me.” Rampaging like a rabid water buffalo, Trump went out of his way to incite the Jan. 6 insurrection, a totally predictable second impeachment humiliation, later on a devastating trial—and now a self-defeating war with the top Republican. Has any politician more stupidly reckless than Trump ever lived? The meteoric blockhead just slammed back to earth with a thud, like fragmented space junk.
Whether lying or name-calling, scoffing or grandstanding (all he’s got), Trump’s worst presidential corruption came from perpetual charades by a pretend president. Everyone knew he was a phony, even deluded fans bizarrely finding him a “genuine phony.” Trump’s answer to whatever exposed his incompetence (all but rallies and fundraising) was the same: a play-the-fool, isn’t-sneering-fun, distraction machine. Incur an election debacle? “Rigged.” Face a pandemic? Blame China, obstruct medical deliveries, concoct awful remedies, and demonize nay-sayers. Cause needless American deaths? Deny responsibility, blame everyone else, and trivialize a surge of deaths. Trump’s essence was not only lying (with matchless clumsiness), but directing badly a constant dumb show to overturn reality. “Dumb” and “show” suit Trump’s epitaph.
In astonishing contrast, when Joe Biden talks about a subject, as in week’s town hall, he addresses the actual subject. Perhaps alert readers will take careful note. Yes, Biden blurs details, and he’s no great speaker. But look at the gains: gone are the lies, nonsense excuses, nutcase conspiracies and cheap personal shots. Biden the person reinforces reality and, compared to the other guy, that makes him a straight-shooter who “tells it like it is.” Doesn’t status quo Joe understand entertainment/shock value of propaganda politics? Obviously not, and his approval polling just passed 62%—meaning 10% of Trump voters crossed over in a month. What “genuineness” means to a Trump churchgoer is buying into wholly discredited nutcrackery. If Trump the “straight-shooter” met Truth in the street, he kick it in the gutter for blocking his way. Trumpism now demands fans jump off a high cliff, then yell in mid air, “Look, ma, no hands.” Cartoon road runners are smarter.
President Joe is a phenomenon only when set against endless stunts, gestures, and a mafia-style crime wave. Juxtaposed, Biden provides enough common ground to allow engagement, whether for or against. You can’t “argue” with Trump smoke and mirrors. Nor with any lying tantrum thrower, nor “rationalize” a charade. Biden the moderate, open to compromise and more than one view, presents examples and relevant context, even awareness that others exist, thus common ground.
Biden is both gregarious and gabby, hardly Mr. Verbal Fluidity. But what emerges so far is a genuine commitment to government deliverables for the greatest number. No president so readily apologizes, whether for going on too long or conceding his compact answers slight complexity. Trump maniacally reveled in over-simplication, gilded with sound bite incoherence—and never seemed to know the difference (or care). And with an allergy to apology that is pathological.
Biden sees being president as defending positions by admitting messy trade-offs, then trying to educate. This is a profound difference. We saw for four years the cruel void of politics as celebrity entertainment. By simply acknowledging the world outside his own, Biden conveys more sincerity, compassion and understanding of suffering than any president since Carter. Now our choice is clear: either elect more prejudice-pandering, TV unreality hosts—or secure an expert team skilled at negotiating crises.
Outcomes are all: what notable, personal win did Trump achieve? Nothing of value. He dumped essential treaties, caged children, defended white supremacists, built a bit of pointless, wildly-overpriced southern wall, tariffed China (mangling U.S. farm income) and finally led a traitorous insurrection. The rest—on taxes, rightwing judges and deregulation—was garden-variety Republican misconduct, defaulting to the Idiot-in-chief.
No knowledge, no achievements
Because Trump was incapable of learning on the job, thus a model of contradiction and inconsistency, he infuriated ideologues on the right and left. He started out by declaring elections were rigged (unless he won), and then had the gall to finish with the same, tedious, logic-busting outrage. Instead of notching voter wins, Trump obsessed over staying in office, and that meant breaking the law, corrupting elections, amplifying division and engendering racial hatred. What makes Biden look good is that he’s not a perpetual motion chaos machine, sneering and waving his arms as if to prove he’s breathing. Apparently, other than hating liberals and opposing scientific truth, Trumpers shared his refusal to understand that rather costly government has positive functions.
The whole Trump shtick is conning the audience, acting as if talking about a subject without addressing it. Everything was always about something else, a presidency of distraction, disinformation, and indirection. Even Trump anti-abortion chatter was never about saving fetuses but letting this “flawed vessel” sucker in Biblical fundamentalists. Trump talk about “draining the swamp” was the most transparent propaganda, channeling inchoate grievances against everything Trump or Trumpers aren’t—and could never be. The worst swamp-dweller took over the swamp—and then laughed in our face.
Bellow all you like, detailing Biden’s suspect history and reliance on weak compromises. I find it refreshing to have a human being as president who’s not forever selling what literally qualify as “trumperies” (cheap, shoddy goods). Or finagling emolument profits, or colluding with foreign agents to get himself elected. A genuine Biden more greatly contrasts the fake Trump than the slicker, more charming Obama or dull Dubya, the phony cowboy. So far Biden talks a more grounded game than Obama, no doubt because current crises are more widespread. Trump proved in spades the old truism, that epic crises expose the quality and character of a president. Biden hasn’t yet gained distinction, but his opening mastery, even ability to calm things down, is for me noteworthy. So, in these degraded times where so many get away with murder, I say: so far, so good. Fire away, malcontents.