It is a cliché that this year’s election is “unprecedented.” The pandemic, an economic crash, a tentative recovery, riots, the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, #TheResistance/Antifa/Black Lives Matter, Democratic ballot fraud shenanigans . . . nothing in living memory compares.
But one thing is equally unprecedented: the zombie presidential campaign of Joe Biden.
For the first time in our nation’s history, we have a candidate who is actively hiding from everyone half the time, and is barely visible the other half. Never have we had a major party candidate whose biological vital signs were in so much doubt, or one with so many concerns about his mental and physical state. Never have we had a candidate who does everything possible to avoid talking to the press—or to anyone else, for that matter.
His supporters hilariously have tried to compare Biden’s “campaign” to front-porch campaigns of ages past. In 1880, Republican James A. Garfield’s front-porch campaign initially was conceived as a marketing gimmick. To the surprise of many, people came by the thousands, looking forward to hearing him address the crowds (and the press) from his porch. The gimmick worked—Garfield was elected the 20th president of the United States.
The key element was having a compliant pro-GOP press. (Hard to imagine such a thing in this day and age.) Republicans successfully used the gimmick again in 1888 with Benjamin Harrison, in 1896 with William McKinley (a soporific public speaker who could put even insomniacs to sleep), and finally, in 1920, with Warren G. Harding. After 1920, advances in modern communications and transportation put the idea of a front porch campaign to rest.
Until Joe Biden came along 100 years later, that is.
The biggest difference between Biden’s basement campaign and these campaigns of the past is that those candidates weren’t hiding—anybody could just walk up to Garfield’s house and talk to him. (Those, obviously, were simpler times.) There is no record of any of those front porch candidates “taking a few days off” to be completely invisible or calling a “lid” on the day shortly after 9 a.m.
The Race Turns
Biden’s handlers once argued that with Biden leading so solidly in the polls, there was no need for him to campaign much. The campaign was taking care of itself, Trump was self-destructing, and all Biden needed to do was an occasional virtual fundraiser or two. Americans weren’t itching to see Old Grandpa Joe in the flesh—given his 15-point lead, they were already in love with the idea of a Biden presidency.
Let Trump bounce around the country campaigning—Gramps can adjust his dentures, wave at reporters from a distance, and win the presidency by going the Chauncey Gardener route. But that was then. The race is much tighter today. Plenty of swing state polls show Trump ahead, or tied with Biden, or within the margin of error. Do Biden’s handlers themselves believe the rosy national polls?
As an example, Quinnipiac, a shamelessly pro-Democratic pollster, had Hillary Clinton ahead five points in Florida shortly before the 2016 election. Trump won Florida by 1.2 percent, making Quinnipiac off by six points there. Quinnipiac shows Biden leading in Florida by three points—you can draw your own conclusions.
Meanwhile, the riots didn’t turn into the anti-Trump killer app that Democrats expected. There are rumblings of discontent among black voters. Grandpa Joe’s Latino support is soft and getting softer. Swing-state Democrats are getting nervous. Whatever the wisdom of Biden’s basement strategy three months ago, that strategy sure looks dicey a month out. Where is Biden and his zombie campaign?
On August 20, Biden accepted the Democratic nomination in what was almost certainly a pre-recorded speech. Since August 11, Biden had nothing on his schedule for 24 out of 48 days. You can do the math: 50 percent of his days are unaccounted for. His caretakers insist he is physically and mentally able to perform the duties of a president yet he cannot explain what, exactly, he does with half his time.
When Trump went in for his annual physical a few days early last November, the media was rife with speculation—he must be ill and lying about his health! Melania’s minor kidney surgery two years ago was splashed all over the landscape. Reporters opined somberly on the potential gravity of the situation. Imagine Trump going off the grid even for a day—Jim Acosta’s head would explode.
Now imagine Trump canceling all events for several days. Every reporter and his grandmother (and his other grandmother!) would be breathlessly speculating about the impending Trump demise. Yet Biden’s repeated vanishing act bothers no one. No reporter asks: what exactly does Joe Biden do on those days? Leftist TV talking heads are equally incurious about what Joe Biden is doing with all of his time.
Where Does the Time Go?
The single most precious resource of any presidential campaign is the candidate’s time—there is only one of him, and he can only be in one place at any given time. Trump (just to randomly compare Joe Biden to someone) campaigns from Nevada and Arizona to Minnesota, from Florida to Michigan, from Ohio to Wisconsin. Picking September 25 for comparison, Trump campaigned in Florida, Georgia, D.C. and Virginia—and that’s in addition to his other duties. Say what you want about Trump, he is working his ass off for it.
Biden had a big day, too. He emerged out of his mausoleum and went to Washington to “pay his respects” to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Being driven two hours from Delaware, then standing silently for a few minutes, and then being driven back is not exactly proof of anything—especially with Biden looking less healthy than the casket’s occupant.
Biden also did an MSNBC interview—for all of four minutes, 32 seconds. I gritted my teeth and watched the whole thing, so you don’t have to. Given how scripted the entire “interview” felt, I thought initially that the “interviewer” was one of his handlers. But Stephanie Ruhle nominally works for MSNBC.
Biden managed to sort of get through it in one piece—it was hard to tell if he was reading from a teleprompter, though the “questions” were so softball (really, just invitations for Biden to say something nasty about Trump), he probably could have answered them without thinking, anyway. At times he seemed lost for a second or two, his hapless neurons firing out of sequence, but then he reacquired a semblance of coherence.
At one point, Ruhle asked Biden about Russian election interference. I perked up excitedly—was she talking about Hunter Biden, Joe’s corrupt idiot son, accepting $3.5 million from a corrupt billionaire wife of a corrupt former mayor of Moscow and sexually exploiting victims of human trafficking? Or was she referring to ex-CIA Director John Brennan deep-sixing a secret report that Putin was actually trying to help Hillary Clinton in 2016? Or was she thinking of the Steele dossier being based almost entirely on conversations with one drunken Russian immigrant in D.C. watering holes?
But no, it was nothing like that. This was all about how Biden, if elected, will really show Putin who is boss. Never mind that Joe Biden is Putin’s (and Xi Jinping’s) wet dream candidate—Biden will really show him!
And that’s it, as far as I can tell, for Biden on September 25—a few minutes near Ginsburg’s coffin, and 4 minutes 32 seconds on MSNBC. This makes it a high-visibility day for Old Joe.
With all of his energy drained, staffers called a lid on September 26 at 9:32 a.m.. Other than a few minutes regurgitating generic blather to the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Zoom (and looking pale and exhausted—I caught some of it live), there was no Biden to be found on the day Trump officially nominated Amy Coney Barrett. You would think Biden wouldn’t want the entire day to be dominated by Trump. You would be wrong.
It was a big day on Sunday, however. Biden delivered “remarks” in Wilmington, Delaware, at noon. No location was announced beforehand, and apparently Biden simply read the teleprompter in front of reporters for 13 minutes (admittedly, successfully, though he looked like the Crypt Keeper). At 3 p.m. he did a short virtual event “in Wisconsin”—and that was it for Sunday. Remember: campaigning for president is Biden’s only job now. Someone running for county dog catcher works harder than Biden to earn the vote.
Low-Energy Event Planning
We are told that Biden has visited 11 states since August 11—this presumably includes visits to Pennsylvania, which is 10 minutes from his house. Biden may or may not remember that there are 39 other states out there. Despite having a private jet on standby, all of his “campaign events” are perfunctory performance pieces. Some “events” have Biden reading the teleprompter to an empty room.
Some “events” have attendance in the low single digits. Yes, you read that right. Compare this to Trump rallies, with thousands lining up starting the day before, despite the media’s Coronavirus panic porn. Biden went from being one of many candidates to being the candidate, yet attendance at his campaign events is asymptotically approaching zero. Biden is starting to make Bill de Blasio, with his absurd, aborted attempt at a presidential run, look like a popular crowd-pleaser.
The point of all this motion without movement is entirely opaque—Biden can just as easily read the teleprompter from his basement, and reduce his carbon footprint considerably. His running mate is equally MIA—Kamala Harris has not done a single presser since the convention, and her campaign appearances are as infrequent and listless as Biden’s.
Even compared to the summer and fall of 2019, when 250 people dragging themselves to see Grandpa Joe counted as an epic success, this is startlingly pitiful. At least back then Biden was showing up in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. Sure, he didn’t know where he was, or even why he was there, but sometimes just showing up is half the battle. It looks like Biden gave up on that half.
The official Biden campaign schedule for upcoming events is lethargic—there is practically nothing there. As the campaign blog confirms, the entire campaign is reduced to rare Zoom appearances, phone banks, “statements” and TV/Facebook ads. It’s not even clear that it needs Biden much at this point, since it’s running on autopilot just fine without him. Unlike Trump’s Twitter feed, not even Democrats seriously believe that Biden has anything to do with his Twitter account.
The Big Show
The first debate is Tuesday night. Biden’s doctors have spent days turning Biden into a marvel of pharmacology. I can’t even imagine all the drug and vitamin cocktails they’ve been feeding him, IV-dripping into him, and injecting into him. The best medical minds have optimized those drug cocktails to deliver peak Biden performance at precisely 9 p.m.
It is not easy to turn a nearly dead near-octogenarian into a walking, talking medical miracle, but I believe in medical science. I believe Biden will turn in the best debate performance of any zombie in any “Night of the Living Dead”–type film.
And just as James Garfield had the press shilling for him, our media is all-in on Biden. Biden unquestionably knows all the questions in advance. Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace, the “moderator,” probably spent many hours with Biden, coaching him and rehearsing the answers.
If Biden manages to string together a few sentences without veering off on tangents involving little children rubbing his leg hair or the joys of hair-sniffing, every talking head on TV will pronounce Biden the greatest orator since Demosthenes and Cicero, a modern-day reincarnation of John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Abraham Lincoln all rolled into one. He will be proclaimed a statesman whose stature compares only to Gaius Octavius Caesar or Winston Churchill. His “Night of the Living Dead” campaign will be declared strategically and tactically brilliant.
It’s hard to know what to believe any more about this election. In mid-August, I wrote about the scarcity of Biden yard signs in my deep blue neighborhood. With barely a month to go, they are still pretty scarce.