Biden, seeking an answer to irrelevance, walks into Trump's trap
Joe Biden has a problem: with all eyes on the coronavirus, and Trump functioning as the commander in chief during what amounts to a war, complete with a wartime economy, Biden has become irrelevant. Because he's older and therefore vulnerable to the virus, he can't even leave his house. Instead, he's hidden away. This is a lousy situation for someone who is trying to become president in the next election.
During his stumbling video appearances, Biden has three available tactics: (1) he can support the president during this crisis, (2) he can criticize the president, and (3) he can offer opposing solutions.
Biden refuses to do Item One, which makes him somewhat akin to Lord Haw-Haw or a Tokyo Rose during World War II, insofar as he is trying hard to undermine the war effort. He definitely does Item Two, non-stop, which is, again, a Haw-Haw or Rose position. And lastly, he tries, desperately, to do Item Three.
Therein lies another problem, which is that, to date, Biden has no original ideas. On March 11, Biden's campaign released his COVID-19 plan.
The plan contained a lot of trite buzz words ("mounting an effective national emergency response") and urged things that Trump had already been doing ("ensure that public health decisions are made by public health officials").
Biden also suggested things that Trump was trying to do, glossing over the fact that the impediments to Trump's ability to accomplish those action items often were Obama-era regulations. It didn't help that Biden's plan was premised on the false allegation that Trump did away with the pandemic response team.
Biden also boasted about his handling of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. This might not have been the wisest thing to do, given that the Obama administration waited six months to address the pandemic, which ultimately resulted in almost 275,000 hospitalizations, killed over 12,400 Americans, and sickened more than 60 million people.
Overall, the plan does not make for illuminating reading, and many commentators immediately pointed out that Biden was essentially plagiarizing again. Others have pointed out that, as a general matter, everything Biden says about coronavirus is at least kind of wrong and often very wrong.
Since releasing his plan, Biden has continued to attack Trump about the coronavirus, with limited success. In addition to the problems listed above, Biden's appearances highlight that there's something wrong with him. His blunders are not the usual gaffes of someone always under the spotlight. They're the mistakes of someone who is a few cards short of a full deck.
In politics, though, there is no room to pity Biden. He doesn't have to run; he wants to run, so the Trump administration can freely deal with whatever Biden offers.
Because the Trump team is intelligent, it's so far opted to avoid attacking Biden's obvious weaknesses. Instead, Kellyanne Conway chose to demand that Biden put his money where his mouth is if he has such great ideas:
Conway, during an interview Wednesday morning with "Fox & Friends," criticized Biden, instead, for not directly offering his support to Trump.
"I think it's really disappointing to have President Obama's number two, who apparently doesn't talk much to him, out there, criticizing, instead of saying, 'Hey, here is what we did that we thought was effective,'" Conway explained.
"Why doesn't Vice President Biden call the White House today and offer some support?" she also asked.
Conway went on to maintain that the White House is not focused on political rhetoric, but instead a response to curb the outbreak of COVID-19.
"I have to tell you, we're not talking about politics here at the White House at all," she explained. "We're talking about ventilators and vaccines, not Biden and Bernie. There's really no time for that, but it's very disappointing when you see the criticism."
Biden was unable to resist the bait, announcing that he would reach out to Trump. And Trump, seeing his fish on the hook, had the right answer:
When asked whether he would be receptive to a phone call with the Democrats' primary frontrunner, the president said yes.
"Oh sure, absolutely," Trump said. "I'd love to speak with him."
The president added: "I always found him to be a nice guy. I don't know him very well, frankly, but I think he's probably a nice guy."
"If he'd like to call, I'd absolutely take his call," the president said. "Okay? You can tell him. Alright?"
There's no way Biden can come out of this conversation looking good. Trump will treat him with the utmost respect while making sure to highlight the fact that Biden was useless during the Obama presidency, that Biden's plans are duplicative of what Trump has already done, and that Biden is mentally weak. The best thing of all would be to televise this meeting because it would highlight Trump's vigor and acumen compared to Biden's faded glory.
Photo credit: Twitter video screen grab.