Trump’s Goose Isn’t Cooked Yet

The current speculation about a likely Joe Biden victory in the November presidential election ignores a number of extraordinary factors. Since the speculation is in the media and the media is overwhelmingly hostile to President Trump, there is a spontaneous urge to consider his declining fortunes in the polls as a vindication of both their professionalism and their prophetic talents. Their self-confidence is misplaced. 

In the last four months the United States has endured the greatest public health crisis in a century, requiring a substantial economic shutdown that has induced the swiftest and most profound economic recession since the 1930s, followed by the worst rioting and public disorder, and the greatest racial strife in more than 50 years. It is not surprising that the president has lost some ground in the polls.

Premature Pandemic Excitement

Four months ago, in the midst of perhaps the most flourishing economy in American history, Trump’s innumerable enemies were sinking into an almost resigned state of gloom about his reelection. Since the pandemic and its consequences seemed to produce a benign deliverance for the president’s enemies—a political miracle—it has temporarily deprived most of the anti-Trump media of any perspective. It has transported them to pinnacles of righteous overconfidence, and it has emboldened the furtive anti-Trump and NeverTrump Republicans to come snorting out of the undergrowth, bellowing their long-muted hostility to the incumbent. Now they openly cavort with the Biden Democrats. 

In their preemptive exuberance, the president’s enemies have begun what amounts almost to a post-mortem on the Trump era. This prematurely fattened goose is cackling too loudly and too soon for several reasons.

They have clambered aboard the bandwagon that Trump has failed at managing the COVID-19 crisis, and (temporarily) have persuaded a majority of Americans of this lie. The administration will have to make its case carefully and soberly with no petulance, being careful to steer clear of any danger of seeming to make an exchange between rising prosperity and coronavirus fatalities. 

In their cold terror of a vertical economic recovery, the national political media who are conducting the Democratic campaign in the absence of a viable presidential nominee, are ringing the bells threadbare with false alarms about the spread of the coronavirus. Only about one person in 7,000 under the age of 65 and in good health is in danger of dying from the coronavirus, and over 90 percent of people of all ages have minimal or no symptoms of the illness when they contract it. Those who survive the coronavirus help to build what inelegantly is called “herd immunity” as those who have been infected and have recovered develop antibodies that make them much more resistant to a recurrence, curbing subsequent outbreaks. 

Unless a vaccine emerges with unexpected promptness, this is going to be the method by which the United States and other countries defeat the coronavirus. In the endless Democratic media celebration of the increasing spread of the illness in a majority of states, there is almost no mention of the fact that the national fatality rate has declined by approximately 80 percent from its high in March, and is still declining.                                       

There will be room for plenty of dispute, but Trump probably will be seen to have moved effectively in shutting down to break the momentum of the illness and in encouraging the states after three months to reopen the economy at whatever rate appeared locally to be sensible, while reinforcing protection for those in vulnerable communities, especially the elderly. A continued or resumed massive economic shutdown to reduce marginally the rate of fatality amongst only 20 percent of the population (almost all of them with shortened life expectancies, which does not reduce the sadness of fatalities, but should factor in strategic judgment) is not justifiable, despite the Democrats’ advocacy of it. 

With the rates of incidence of the coronavirus revealed by continued heavy testing, it is no more deadly a disease to the population as a whole than some previous less pernicious viruses. The president’s enemies are claiming victory prematurely and for the wrong reasons.

Patriotic Backlash and Electoral Whiplash

There will be a backlash among the silent majority of Americans who love and admire their country even as they acknowledge that racial relations require continued work and enhanced sensitivity. On Election Day, they will punish those who have been tolerant or even ambiguous about what amounts to urban terrorism and the desecration of the highest traditions of America. 

No significant percentage of Americans of any pigmentation will approve the destruction or desecration of a monument to Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, or their armies or the veterans of the World Wars. They all fought for liberty and judicial equality for all people and the horrible George Floyd murder and other valid current grievances deduct nothing from the homage owed them for having made the highest and noblest sacrifice. 

The president is again following the right course by putting down a marker to show where his administration stands, invoking an old statute to protect national monuments, and systematically preparing cases to prosecute offenders in large numbers.    

Those now celebrating their prophetic talents have made no discernible allowance for what the voters may think of the Democrats crumbling into equivocation and moral relativity opposite rioters, arsonists, murderers, and anarchists; and of partially approving a reduction of police effectiveness and responsiveness. They will not indulge an environmental policy that would inflict a grievous wound on American industry for no precise discernible ecological benefit. They will make the Democrats pay for their open alliance with Black Lives Matter, an organization founded by anti-white racists, formerly identified with the murder of white police officers, especially in Dallas and Baton Rouge in 2016, and whose leader in New York, Hawk Newsome, informed Fox news last week that the country will give us what we want or “we will burn down this system.” 

The Democrats are now effectively allied with both a pestilence and with black racist extremists. The egregious mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, is cooperating with a celebration of Black Lives Matter on Fifth Avenue (near the Trump Tower), even as Joe Biden professes that he will force all Americans to wear masks when he is president, and as Mitt Romney marches in a BLM parade. The leaders of BLM do not accept the proposition that all lives matter. Their organization or, rather, the phrase is popular following the George Floyd horror, but will be an onerous handicap in November given this overreach.

Confidence that the president is electorally doomed takes no account of the likely indictment for serious breaches of the Constitution of senior officials of the Obama-Biden administration, not an image-builder for those endlessly disparaging Trump’s ethics. 

Finally, Biden will have to meet Trump in single-combat political war. Barack Obama’s former vice president is not intellectually fit for the office he seeks, as anyone can see by listening to him for one minute. That was the judgment of Democratic voters in the early primaries, before the party elders and bosses, terrified by a Marxist Sanders candidacy, picked Biden up and conducted him to the finish line. They won’t be able to do this in November.

The president should raise his game, speak less lengthily and repetitively, focus less on his grievances with the media, give the country a clear vision for the future (including health care, where he has been silent), and make sure that the people know by Election Day just how far from acceptable positions the Democrats have strayed. Trump should still win, but we are chasing a bouncing football.

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About Conrad Black

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

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