Monday, May 4, 2020

What Biden is doing right and what Trump and the GOP are doing wrong

If you are a rat on a ship and feel water up to your neck, a logical conclusion is that the ship is sinking. The question is what will you do? Sink or swim?

It does feel like the USS Trump is taking on water. What will the Republicans on that ship do? Start bailing or bailing out?

Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post) asks Can Republicans bet on a comeback?

And she answers:

Rarely have polls painted as consistent a portrait of President Trump’s and Republicans’ standing: Terrible. In multiple polls, former vice president Joe Biden has a comfortable lead nationally, and a small but consistent lead in battleground states ranging from Pennsylvania to Michigan to Arizona (!) and North Carolina. Needless to say, if the numbers hold and Biden wins Arizona, this will be a blowout election.

PRRI’s poll of battleground states finds, “Trump’s favorability in battleground states has dropped substantially since March, from 53% to 38%.” Non-college-educated voters, who previously were a key part of his base, are falling away. “Trump’s favorability among non-college graduates in battleground states has dropped 20 percentage points between March and April (59% to 39%), putting it more in line with his favorability in 2019 (45%).” In sum, “Large declines are also evident among those living in battleground states (–15 percentage points), those age 65 and over (–14 percentage points), white Americans without a college degree (–12 percentage points), and white women (–9 percentage points).”

… Trump is not the only one who looks vulnerable. Republican Senate Republicans’ polls are dreadful. An internal GOP poll from Georgia shows, “Voters are evenly split on Trump, but [Gov. Brian] Kemp’s disapproval rating (52%) outweigh [sic] his approval rating (43%). [Republican Sen. Kelly] Loeffler is deeper underwater after grappling with an uproar over her stock transactions during the pandemic, with an approval of 20% and disapproval of 47%.”

This is Georgia, folks.

Trump could recover if, for example, there is no second wave of coronavirus cases, the deaths abate quickly, and states are getting back to work by Election Day. If you find that unlikely, you are in good company. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, for one, thinks it is inevitable the virus will be around in the fall. Economists are gradually worsening their outlook for the second and third quarters of 2020. In short, things may look worse a few months from now.

Even more damaging for Trump, he is unlikely to stop being Trump. He cannot give up his daily press fix (despite stories he was going to cut back), and we know he is not suddenly going to become the voice of reason and science. Trump will be Trump. And that’s the problem for him and Republicans. In a stunning failure of leadership and governance, Republicans have been entirely unable to comfort the country and provide confidence they have a path forward. They may finally have exhausted the voters’ patience.

A lot of that is fueled by Trump being Trump and the GOPlins who support him being sheep. You just know that they will come after Biden about the Tara Reade allegations - the ones that change from day to day.

Jennifer Rubin thinks Biden is handling it well. She writes about What Joe Biden did right in rebutting Tara Reade’s claims.

Political pundits will “grade” former vice president Joe Biden’s response to Tara Reade’s allegation that he digitally penetrated her more than 25 years ago. The campaign’s written statement was empathetic and respectful but definitive. Biden sat for a tough interview Friday without losing his cool. He was not angry or accusatory; he did not claim a conspiracy nor insult the accuser. He volunteered to open Senate papers (which he said are at the National Archives, not at the University of Delaware). In short, he did what an innocent person would do and say.

The lines “If you believe Christine Blasey Ford, you have to believe Reade” or “You didn’t believe President Trump, so you cannot believe Biden” (or other variations) are the worst examples of mindless “balance” and faux objectivity. It takes a minute to identify fundamental differences between situations that bear little resemblance to one another.

Trump never sat for a grueling interview to go through the facts of more than a dozen claims against him. Biden sat for an interrogation of a single claim of sexual assault. (And no, his penchant to ignore personal space and excessive hugginess were not sexual, although they were inappropriate.)

Unlike Republicans and now-Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who refused to allow a full investigation of charges, Biden has put no restrictions on media inquiries and has offered up relevant documents. …

And let’s get real: Reade and Ford are not similar accusers. Ford’s story was consistent for years. Reade’s has not been. Ford did not claim to have complained contemporaneously; Reade did and was rebutted by Biden staff to whom she would have complained. In Kavanaugh’s case, there was another witness to an alleged, separate incident of sexual misconduct at Yale University involving Kavanaugh. In Reade’s case, no one else has accused Biden of anything like Reade’s claim.

Biden’s statements in writing and in the interview are hard to dispute: Women should be heard and believed, but facts and the truth matter like in every other crime. (In his written statement enumerating the fundamental concerns in these cases, Biden said, “One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.”) If a witness changes her story (“Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways”), her credibility is seriously compromised.

[These] points deserve emphasis.

First, the media do not question Trump about the serial allegations against him at his endless daily appearances. They’ve shrugged their shoulders and given up trying to pin him down on the numerous complaints of harassment and/or assault. They should continue to scrutinize his claims and ask questions whether he answers or not.

Second, people are entitled to believe Reade despite her inconsistencies, the denials from Biden and his staff and the (so far) dearth of written evidence of her complaint. The question is whether the American people decide the evidence is credible. Unless more evidence surfaces, I would wager they do not.

Third, Democrats perpetually worried that the Biden team is “blowing it” (Biden is hidden away! Not in the news!) might want to chill. This was a textbook example of effective campaign communication. The candidate is leading in the polls, and Trump is melting down (in the latest ABC/Ipsos poll, “his disapproval rating among Americans reached a numeric high of 57%, with only 42% approving.”) Maybe these people do know what they are doing.

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