March 26, 2020

2020 Election

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump told Fox News, “I want to encourage everyone to keep following our guidelines on social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and hand washing and all of the other things that everybody knows they're supposed to be doing. Ultimately, the goal is to ease the guidelines and open things up to very large sections of our country as we near the end of our historic battle with the invisible enemy… I hope we can do this by Easter. I think that would be a great thing for our country, and we're all working very hard to make that a reality.” Fox News

Also on Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden gave interviews to CNN and MSNBC from his house in Delaware. Campaigning for the Democratic primary is largely on hold due to the coronavirus; Biden currently leads with 1,215 delegates to 910 for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). CNN, MSNBC, NPR

On Monday, Biden live-streamed his first daily coronavirus press briefing. RealClearPolitics

See past issues

From the Left

The left thinks Trump is hurting his own electoral prospects with his coronavirus response, and urges the Biden team to step up.

“President Trump’s approval rating has improved slightly amidst the coronavirus pandemic. But the short-term gains, reflecting a possible rally-around-the-flag effect at the time of national emergency, may not hold…

“If I were Trump, I’d want to think six months ahead to the fall. That means I’d want a broad-based stimulus plan that helps ordinary Americans and small businesses to stay afloat during the weeks — or months-long shutdown. I’d want to stamp out the disease as much as possible — even if that means social distancing is in effect for a bit longer. And I’d want to have a Manhattan Project on treatments, testing and surveillance so that the coronavirus is more manageable until a vaccine is developed, which is unlikely until well after Election Day… The better off America is by November, the more likely he is to be re-elected.”
Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight

“The worst days of the virus’s sweep through the US are almost certainly still ahead of us, as the number of infections and deaths continues to rise, so there’s no guarantee those approval ratings will hold. But I would argue that as Trump continues putting himself in front of TV cameras to act like he’s taking charge and driving this narrative forward, he might still benefit. Even if things are falling apart, he’s still ‘taking charge,’ whatever that means. And subconsciously, we love a protagonist.”
Emily Todd VanDerWerff, Vox

“The best way to contain the economic damage here — and thus maximize Trump's chances for re-election — would be to throw all possible financial help at regular voters while organizing industry onto a wartime footing to defeat the coronavirus as quickly as possible. On both the raw economic merits, and as a matter of cold-blooded political self-interest, that's what the president and Republicans should be doing. And yet they are doing the opposite…

The White House has been sitting on the Defense Production Act for weeks without actually utilizing it. The law would allow Trump to supersede existing private contracts and re-assign (and pay) private companies to produce the supplies, devices, and goods needed to fight the virus. Instead, the White House has been trying to encourage purely voluntary efforts from big business, which is proving both chaotic and inadequate.”
Jeff Spross, The Week

Regarding Biden, “Voters seem to have coalesced around [him] for his past—who they have known him to be for the past four decades in American politics—rather than for anything in his present. It’s as if Biden exists primarily as an idea, rather than an actual candidate… Biden’s team appears to understand this, and to believe that what matters most now is keeping their candidate alive in the American imagination as an alternative to Trump. His appearances these days have an almost parallel-universe quality to them: Biden’s audience-less remarks from his home in Delaware have the suggestion of an Oval Office address, and their content seems intended to offer a glimpse into the twilight zone where someone else, someone more empathetic and capable, is president…

“For the foreseeable future, there will be no more speeches in front of hundreds, or lines of people waiting to shake Biden’s hand. There may not even be the glossy fanfare of a convention with a prime-time address. But, truthfully, all those things were always sort of beside the point… Biden was never really convincing anyone on the stump—his political power at this point is an idea, held collectively, about how to defeat Trump. The work now is to keep that idea convincing enough, for long enough, among as many people as possible, for the corporeal man to actually win.”
Alex Wagner, The Atlantic

“Why not put together a series of presentations in which Biden and well chosen experts and communicators explore policy challenges and consider solutions he would pursue? You could do them on health care, economic growth, labor rights, civil rights, voting rights, climate change, immigration and any number of other issues… The point wouldn’t be so much to list all the members of the future Biden administration as to fill out a picture of what he and his party think is important and what they want to do if they assume power…

“We know that Trump is uniquely ill-suited to confronting a crisis such as this one. He has hollowed out the government of competent professionals, he’s always more concerned with his image than with solving problems, and he is utterly incapable of bringing the country together for any reason, preferring to shift blame and attack his perceived enemies. Biden can tell voters that he’d be the opposite on all counts; what’s trickier is to show them. That’s what he ought to start doing now. There’s no better time.”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

From the Right

The right is encouraged by the recent increase in Trump’s approval, and critical of Biden’s recent efforts and general strength as a candidate.

The right is encouraged by the recent increase in Trump’s approval, and critical of Biden’s recent efforts and general strength as a candidate.

“Right now there is huge uncertainty about how long the nation’s lockdown is going to last, how severe the economic contraction will be, and how fast we will recover once the all-clear is sounded. But already survey data show that the most of the public understands that the virus is not Trump’s fault, and likewise that the economic calamity that has befallen us is not his fault either. The usual rules of politics may not apply to this episode, and my hunch is Trump might come out of this stronger.”
Steven Hayward, Power Line Blog

“It is hard to recall a time when a major-party presumptive nominee has been so invisible and so irrelevant on the national stage

“Biden is frozen in place, without a lot of modern precedent to fall back on. He can’t use his own office to get in the news or do anything useful, because he has been out of office for four years. He can’t hold campaign rallies, which are unsafe for crowds and particularly hazardous to a 77-year-old candidate. His party’s leaders on Capitol Hill seem uninterested in getting him involved in negotiations, even within their own party. He can’t even formally celebrate wrapping up the nomination, because Sanders stubbornly insists on continuing his campaign. So Biden is reduced to reading embarrassingly halting statements off cue cards in an empty room.”
Dan McLaughlin, National Review

“Mr. Biden hasn’t yet grasped that as the presumptive Democratic nominee, he’s already the party’s leader. He mistakenly left the drafting of his party’s Covid-19 stimulus bill to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in Congress… By contrast, in the 2008 financial crisis, then-Sen. Barack Obama stepped in and led, dictating his party’s approach and knocking heads to get it. Mr. Biden didn’t display that ability or gravitas. Rather than lead off camera, he wants the limelight. That instinct may damage the credibility he’ll need to dominate the stage later.”
Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal

On Monday, “Biden’s delivery was leaden. He seemed tired. He slurred his words. Worse, he repeatedly stumbled in his remarks, despite reading them from a teleprompter. At one point, Biden said this: ‘And uh, in addition to that, in addition to that, we have to make sure that we, uh, are in a position, that we are, we. Let me go to the second thing.’... Biden says he wants a more public profile during this crisis. After seeing his first attempt, we wonder if anyone else does.”
Editorial Board, Issues & Insights

“Let’s be honest. The more Biden is in front of voters, the more likely he will remind us of how gaffetastic he is. He is a placeholder of a candidate. The DNC panicked when it was becoming clear that Bernie Sanders may rise to be their candidate and Biden was dusted off and brought out as the safe choice…

“By running Biden, the Democrats are desperately hoping to defeat President Trump in November. The plan is for him to win and bring back the status quo of the Obama days. I think Americans have moved past the status quo. Joe Biden offers nothing new in policy or big ideas. He looks back, not forward. By doing things like shadow briefings, for example, he undermines the president while offering no new solutions. He simply parrots the words of advice from experts, all of which is already being done by the Trump COVID-19 task force.”
Karen Townsend, Hot Air

“The more serious problem with Biden is that he’s the wrong person to lead America in a post-coronavirus world because he will never stand up to China or make the Chinese Communist Party pay a price for unleashing this plague upon the world. Never in his long political career has Biden been willing to stand up to Beijing… As the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 1990s, Biden pushed for China’s membership in the World Trade Organization, blocking measures that would have imposed human rights requirements in exchange for most-favored-nation status…

“Throughout his years as vice president, China continued to build military outposts on contested islands in the Pacific, threaten its neighbors, and assert sovereignty over some of the busiest commercial shipping lanes in the world—all without hardly any pushback from Biden and Obama… Biden will not work to uncouple critical supply chains from China or bring back manufacturing jobs to American workers. He won’t seek damages from China under international law for unleashing a global catastrophe. No, a President Biden would almost certainly seek a return to normalcy, which is the rationale for his entire campaign. What should be obvious by now, even to Biden, is that there’s not going to be a return to normalcy—and when it comes to China, there shouldn’t be.”
John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist

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