One always expects the media surprise leak of a purported hidden scandal as a presidential campaign winds down. Remember the last-minute “discovery” of George W. Bush’s undisclosed 24-year-old DUI arrest in 2000? Or the October 7, 2016 effort of the Washington Post to publish the hoarded 11-year-old “Access Hollywood” tape, just two days before Donald Trump’s second debate with Hillary Clinton?
We should expect lots of these “bombshells” and “walls are closing in” pseudo derailments. Except Trump has been the most widely investigated, probed, attacked, and smeared president in history. And so the scandal-field has pretty well been picked over, as those fired like Omarosa Manigault Newman, Anthony Scaramucci, John Bolton, and others have long ago more or less lectured us that Trump is nuts, crazy, dangerous, stupid, ignorant, and so forth.
In terms of bombshells, what does the Left do after the 2016 suit to decertify voting machines, the FISA court abuse, the effort to sabotage electors’ votes, the first impeachment drive, the Logan Act gambits, the Emoluments Clause joke, the 25th Amendment ruse, the Russian collusion hoax, the 22-month-asleep-at-the-wheel Mueller and his “all-stars,” Ukraine! Ukraine!, the second impeachment drive, and the 2020 trifecta of Trump as Typhoid Mary, Bull Connor, and Herbert Hoover?
The point is, in Jussie Smollett fashion, the demand for scandals is outrunning the supply and time grows short.
It’s no wonder that one of Joe Biden’s largest campaign contributors, billionaire Laurene Jobs of the Apple fortune, who owns most of The Atlantic, had the former Obama Administration megaphone Jeffrey Goldberg exhume a two-year-old and long-ago-refuted charge that President Trump did not wish to visit a U.S. military cemetery in France because he variously was afraid of the rain, that he would get his hair wet, and that he did not wish to celebrate “losers” and “suckers.” All this was from a left-wing media that not long ago damned a “militaristic” Trump for being infatuated with generals, and putting far too many in his White House, while needlessly spending billions on manpower and equipment to repair a military hollowed out by the Obama Administration.
The resuscitated scandal hit-piece was primed for all the left-wing cable news shows and supposedly would dominate the otherwise quiet Labor Day weekend news.
The problem was that the charge was calcified—and for a reason. Security memos long ago had shown that the weather, not Trump, had deterred low-flying presidential helicopters. Goldberg’s “sources” remain anonymous. Supposedly they were afraid of Twitter reprisals (when has fear of a left-wing Twitter ever scared off a left-wing scandal-monger?), and thus could not be found or checked to determine whether they stood by their hearsay charges.
The presidential entourage of that day all denied Goldberg’s accusations, including Trumphobe and former White House insider and National Security Advisor John Bolton, coming off a tell-all book attacking the president as a nincompoop and a dangerous nut.
Goldberg’s work, then, is symptomatic not just of the growing desperation of the Left to blow up Trump’s current polling trajectory, but the poverty of the muck material still left to work with. Expect more October “smoking gun” surprises surrounding Trump’s stale tax returns, a casino bankruptcy or two, a Mooch tidbit, a Michael Avenatti crumb, a retired general’s sudden memory recovery, or perhaps even an old undiscovered Stormy tweet.
“Summers of Love”
The “summer of love” and “largely peaceful” tropes of late spring and early summer are now belied by the flames, firebombs, and looting that often offer on-scene backdrops for fake news accounts, as journalists seem about to ignite as they assure us of calm.
Recently, there was another riot in Rochester, New York in which Black Lives Matter sought to destroy restaurants and attack diners as they ate—as a prelude to entering the suburbs, climbing roofs, and waking the supposedly largely complacent white “racist” populace up to their culpability for the rioters’ unhappiness.
Their delayed anger grew over a just-released video of the death, six months ago, of an arrested African-American youth, while in Rochester police custody. That tragedy supposedly justified manhandling strangers with warnings of “give us our shit” and “do not record crimes” with cell phones.
These now nightly recurring riots and violence have a common theme: blue-state governors and blue mayors of the nation’s larger and middle-sized cities have institutionalized police procedures to detain supposedly dangerous or erratic acting suspects, which are either dangerous to the suspect or can easily appear post facto to be so on selectively edited or incompletely aired videos.
Local and municipal Democratic officials apparently have no answers in their cities for endemic African-American disparities, asymmetrical crime rates, and the proper behavior of their worn-out and beleaguered police, who are called by frightened businesses and bystanders to remove often dangerous suspects from their shared communities.
The result is that suspects now routinely resist arrest, confident either sympathetic district attorneys won’t prosecute them, or police themselves will have to choose between losing their lives arresting those not willing to be arrested or losing their careers and livelihood in the effort. We know the consequences: police simply are not responding to calls from crime-infested areas, and those arrested don’t think the police will use force to make arrests stick—and so resist.
Nor do liberal officials know how to tamp down often violent protests over such deaths that often target their own police forces, and sometimes even the homes of the mayors themselves who struggle to show their sympathy with the rioters.
Add it all up and officials either contextualize or condole the ensuing violence sparked by their own actions, or strain to condemn it by blaming Donald Trump, the Emmanuel Goldstein of our age.
Either way, it is not a convincing strategy to reassure torched businesses or innocent diners or demoralized police who are spat upon and made the targets of firebombs, that a more vigorous Joe Biden will tame fellow blue-state America officeholders and quell the violence.
As for the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer, the mounting anger over the sanctioned violence has not only prompted the media to exhume and enhance old saw Trump stories, refashioned as autumn campaign surprises, but also has forced Joe Biden out of his basement.
But to do what exactly?
The question assumes that there was not a reason why Biden was in his basement in the first place, near-mute for three months. For a time, seclusion was a winning strategy because otherwise to see and listen to Biden is to conclude that he is non compos mentis.
In addition, the media had driven down Trump’s ratings by blaming him for COVID-19, the lockdown, recession, and looting, and was playing out the clock by reframing the election as Trump versus the media and the coronavirus.
But the strategy was not updated to recalibrate changing momentum in response to changing news cycles. And Biden became even rustier by his basement sabbatical. So now he is out and we are immediately reminded of the reasons he hibernated in the first place and should have stayed there.
We now witness surreal Biden press events. Questions are scripted from an “approved” list of reporters who apparently send fuzzy inquiries in advance and, like North Korean journalists, queue up to repeat them in public. Biden then either looks at his notes or a teleprompter for his canned answers, but stumbles through his responses. He often gives the game away by reading out loud his handlers’ prompts such as “end of quote” or “topline message,” while an uneasy rogue reporter occasionally blurts out loud in frustration that she wants to ask a question “not on the paper.”
No one knows the exact state of the presidential race. The polls are all over the place and many are weaponized. Scan Emerson, Rasmussen, Trafalgar, and Zogby polls, and Trump is near dead even or even ahead in some key states. Read the surveys discredited after 2016 like Reuters and Politico, and Biden is winning across the board.
But all pollsters seem to concede something is terribly wrong with this increasingly discredited institution. How can IBD/TPP assure us that in his favorability ratings Trump is down by 16 points even as Emerson shows us he is up by two and Rasmussen by four?
Something is rotten.
Either the pollsters are abjectly incompetent, or deliberately selecting flawed demographics that they know will reflect their own biases, and they do so to add momentum to their preferred candidate.
Or their subordinates who gather the data are massaging the numbers to reflect their own choices.
Or the respondents are deliberately misleading their questioners either out of fear or from spite.
The record of bias and error from 2016 might suggest all three reasons.
60 Days More of Scripts
What then can we expect in the next 60 days from the Biden campaign?
About every week or so there will be a media/Democratic/leftist fusion zombie scandal that suddenly arises from the past but with new unnamed sources and anonymous rumors, and pushed as the long lost magic spike to drive into Count Trump’s heart.
Or we will have more rioting, spreading to smaller cities in the manner of Kenosha and Rochester, all well-organized and aimed at suburban and largely middle-class whites, to terrify them that no one is safe thinking they at least do not live in Portland or Chicago.
These riots will be contextualized by Biden with the now-familiar damnation of Trump and police excess, albeit with a nugget thrown in about the need for peaceful change. And then we will see a campaign stop, press conference, or interview in which Biden will have the scripted questions, scripted answers, and inadvertently either read off his handlers’ prompts or go blank or confused for about a five-second mind-out.
The interviewers will try to carry Biden across the finish line by finishing his half-completed sentences, rewording and translating his garble, or abruptly changing the subject when Biden goes into screensaver mode.
What can we conclude of these desperate efforts to derail Donald Trump?
One, Biden really should have stayed permanently in the basement but now cannot.
Two, internal pollsters have frightened Democrats not so much because they believe Biden is behind, but because they advise Biden not to trust the media’s smiley polls, and don’t offer any strategy of how to stop Trump’s insidious trajectory.
Three, the issues of May and June have evaporated and now bleed Biden more than they do Trump. The virus itself slowly wanes. Better treatment ameliorates its effects. And the vaccine looms larger. The lockdown was more or less discredited by the exemption given thousands of violent protesters and the issue is now recalibrated as keeping 50 million children out of school. The economy did not go into depression but seems to be climbing out of recession. And George Floyd’s death increasingly has nothing to do with nightly looting and arson, as the rioters turn unapologetically Marxist, nihilist—and increasingly venomously racist.
Given all that, and given the dearth of fresh scandal material, expect more ossified scandals, Kindergarten interviews, improving favorability ratings for the president, and desperate efforts to prove COVID-19 is resurging, quarantines must be extended, rioting and burning are acts of love, and we are in a Great Depression. And the more this does not work, the more vehemently it will be repeated.