Don't underestimate Joe Biden

29 August 2020

1:59 AM

29 August 2020

1:59 AM

So is it over for Joe? Gloating Republicans and handwringing Democrats alike suddenly seem convinced that President Trump is headed towards an improbable repeat victory this November, especially after his acceptance speech last night. But there are multifarious reasons to believe that this is a bunch of hooey.

For one thing, Biden has been repeatedly counted out only to bounce back. Consider the primary. Conventional wisdom was that Biden was a goner. Too old. Out of it. A dullard. On the eve of the South Carolina primary he was, in short, dismissed as a has-been, though vanity prompts me to note that yours truly, writing on this website, rightly predicted the very opposite.

The point isn’t that Biden is some kind of Clark Kent who can dash into the political equivalent of a telephone booth and emerge as a presidential Superman. It’s that he is consistently underestimated. Biden is a shrewd, skilled, and seasoned politician who has steadfastly adhered to a winning formula since the day he has announced his candidacy. From the outset he has presented himself as the candidate of a restoration who will end the Trump interregnum.

He doesn’t want to lead a glorious revolution so much as a return to normalcy. In this regard, Trump may have played into Biden’s hands last night. Biden announced his candidacy as a repudiation of the sentiments that Trump enunciated about the upheaval at Charlottesville where a bunch of far right figures pantomimed a Nazi rally.

Now Trump has doubled down on the culture wars, creating upheaval that he blames on his political opponent. It’s the only play Trump can make. But whether it will succeed is an open question.

The lunatic left may succeed in earning Trump a second term if violence spins out of control. But Biden will seek to flip the script on Trump. The longer upheaval continues, the wearier the public may become of Trump’s bluster about law and order.

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