A contrary opinion

I have said, over and over and over again, that I expect that President Donald J Trump will be re-elected this fall. I have suggested that unless the Democratic National Committee decides that the primaries didn’t work and there needs to be brokered Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 06.30.38Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 06.12.33convention in August, America will have to choose between two creepy and arguably senile old men. Although I, personally, think that Mr Biden is less detestable than President Trump, I believe that he is an even weaker candidate than Hillary Clinton was in 2016. My guess remains that Americans will go with the devil they know … unless, by the fall, President Trump has made a HUGE mess of the COVID-19 situation, which seems to be under control, at last, and has been unable to lay the blame off on someone else.

Lawrence Martin, a veteran political columnist with whom I regularly disagree, says, in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, that “Since the 2016 shocker, there’s always been a tendency to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt when talking about his re-election chances … [and] …When all his negatives are raised, knees invariably start jerking. “Ah, but look what happened last time,” comes the response. He was counted out and still won. When it’s noted that he’s been trailing in the polls virtually every day in the past 3½ years, there’s the same reply: Look what happened last time … [but, he says] … it’s finally time to forget what happened then. Chances of it happening again this time are going up in smoke. Mr. Trump is running with a collapsed economy, one of the worst handicaps an incumbent seeking re-election can have. In addition, with the United States having suffered more losses in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic than any other country, he now has a war record to run on, a record of unpreparedness which has cost his country gravely.

Mr Martin lays out the usual litany of Trumpian failures and he says that “The Trump Republicans are hopeful that when the lockdown is lifted, the economy will come roaring back. Not by the fall it won’t. The stock market might be back up but the unemployment and GDP numbers will be brutal. The Republicans never win with the economy in the tank.” This is an important point. Many of the people who voted for Trump ~ blue-collar people in most cases ~ did so because he promised to bring their jobs back. If, as many experts predict, the current lockdowns are going to have a devastating impact on Western economies that will be felt, brutally, in the late summer and fall, then their vote may be up for grabs.

To stand any chance,” of being re-elected, Lawrence Martin says, “Mr. Trump has to debunk the narrative that he was asleep at the switch when the virus hit. But he isn’t succeeding. The American media is probing deeply what happened in January and February. Revelations of Oval Office inertia keep on coming.” But we must remember that more than half of all Americans mistrust the media.

I would point out that Justin Trudeau was also “asleep at the switch when the virus hit,” but, unfortunately, the Canadian media is not interested in what happened in Canada in January and February.

Lawrence Martin says that “Because of the coronavirus shutdown, the Biden campaign is next to invisible … [and when Mr Biden] … is visible he is derided as being in cognitive decline. But it likely won’t matter. He’s experienced. He’s normal. Americans will want change.” I’m not so sure. The American culture wars still matter a lot and Joe Biden is associated with one of the culture wars‘ icons …

Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 09.24.23

… there are still tens of millions of Americans who cannot abide the notion that Barack Obama was president, and they will vote against anyone associated with him … no matter how bad they might find Donald Trump to be.

Mr Martin also makes the very valid point ~ which applies, in spades, here in Canada, that “Incumbents defeat themselves.” He opines that “this incumbent won’t need much help from the Democrats”  … [but, he hedges his bet, cautioning us that] … In politics there is always the prospect of unforeseen, strange events intervening … [and] … Anyone totally writing off Mr. Trump’s chances need bare that caveat in mind.” (Please note that I quoted exactly what Lawrence Martin said, as the Good Grey Globe printed it, “bare in mind,” and all.”)

Lawrence Martin concludes that “But given the extraordinary coupling of economic and pandemic destruction, the Democrats should be able to coast. Convulsive developments in combination with his own ineptitude have conspired to undermine Mr. Trump’s chances of repeating 2016.” I know that is the hope of tens of millions of Americans, and likely tens of millions of Canadians, too. But I remain unpersuaded.

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