The Impresario President Will Get an Encore

For anyone with any perspective on American elections, it is clear that the polls do not entitle us to predict with any confidence the outcome of the current campaign. Many of the polls included in the average of polls on aggregator sites are really just the products of Democratic Party front organizations, such as VoxPolitico, Quinnipiac, Monmouth, and others whose chief function is to facilitate the Democratic media locker room cry that they’ve already won and the counting of the votes is practically superfluous. Open the beer kegs! The Trump tyranny is already over. 

Trafalgar, the only poll that showed Trump winning four years ago, shows him winning again this year. And the next most accurate of polls that covered the 2016 campaign and are doing so again is Rasmussen, which has fluctuated and briefly joined the ranks of the Biden victory celebration squad two weeks ago but now has Trump’s approval rating back at 48 percent. 

All polls that put the question receive the answer that people think the majority of their neighbors will vote for Trump, and all polls of Trump voters indicate that they decline to discuss politics candidly with strangers.

There are constant arcane debates between pollsters about the accuracy of the echelon of people whom they poll. Most polls are of “registered voters” and this cohort, generally, is unlikely to bear much resemblance to the functioning electorate. And many polls consist of multiple questions posed on the telephone at inconvenient hours and are responded to only by underactive or unusually politically zealous people. 

There is ample evidence that Donald Trump, in both his elections, has brought out large numbers of people who have not been in the habit of voting since Reagan, and that he is pulling large numbers of working-class Democrats into his camp. 

Of course, there are apparent slippages in all directions in traditional voting blocs. Suburban women who were comfortable with GOP Democratic look-alikes such as the Bushes, John McCain, and Mitt Romney have been tempted by recent Democrats. A good many wealthy voters—not just the Hollywood and Silicon Valley communities who fancy themselves the cutting edge of American thought and civilization—are reliable and often financially generous Democrats. Their money undoubtedly helps their party. The implicit suggestion that because they are competent actors or computer geeks, they are necessarily astute political scientists, is demonstrable nonsense and such pretensions are nauseating to large numbers of voters. 

A greater source of funds for the Democrats is a large delegation of Wall Street denizens whose antipathy to Trump is somewhat counterintuitive. Some are offended by his garish behavior; some are critics going back to the days of Trump’s involvement in the junk-bond-financed casino business; some resent his frequent almost Sanders-like references to the tax breaks the Wall Street high flyers enjoy (which Trump did not attempt to repeal in his tax reform of 2018); some are heavily invested in China and are concerned about his policy toward that country. And some, in the highest traditions of the avarice of the ultra-wealthy, are simply envious of Trump’s money, his lifestyle of almost oriental opulence (replete with a plethora of startlingly attractive women), and above all of his astonishing achievement in translating wide but often negative celebrity into his election as the 43rd direct successor of General George Washington at the headship of the United States of America.

The whereabouts of the American voter just two weeks from the election is made more of a mystery by the overwhelming and unprecedented partisanship of the national political media. All independent surveys and the experience of every media reader, viewer, and listener confirms that over 90 percent of the national political media are not only opposed to Trump but go to the dangerously unprofessional lengths of suppressing negative information about his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Moreover, they deliberately propagate false or insignificant allegations about the president that can have no other object but to weaken him in the eyes of the voters at the approach of election day. Almost the entire media joined the great majority of the political establishment—Trump-hating Democrats and NeverTrump Republicans together—in saturating the news and attempting to brainwash the country into believing that Trump had colluded criminally and perhaps treasonably with the Russian government in producing the astounding results of the 2016 election. 

Almost the same cast of influencers relentlessly attached unjustified credence to the spurious impeachment of the president over an unexceptionable telephone call that he made to the president of Ukraine. It will not be the least irony of the Trump era that if the facts can ever be unearthed, i.e. if special counsel John Durham can use his broad subpoena and investigative powers to produce enough facts to clarify what happened in the murky but almost certainly illegal confection of the Trump-Russia investigation before he is shot down by a succeeding administration, it will be clear that it was Trump’s opponents who were in league with disreputable Russian elements, and it is also now fairly clear that if anyone had criminal or impeachable relations with Ukraine it was the Biden family and not Trump.   

If Trump were not mortally threatening almost the entire bipartisan post-Reagan political establishment—not only with the loss of position but in many cases with legitimate criminal prosecution—he would be facing a much less solid wall of determination to drive him from office. If he were not so gratuitously obnoxious at times, many more people would rally to the natural desire to support the country’s leader. 

The undoubted disaster of his belligerent interruptions of Biden in their debate, when the moderator, Chris Wallace, though clearly no chum of the president, was in the act of forcing answers from Biden that he would have had a great difficulty giving, drove many to to decide to vote for the alternative no matter how implausible he is. Trump then reinforced that feeling in them by saying that he was debating both Biden and Wallace and that he was absolutely right to interrupt the interchanges between the other two. It is this compulsive bellicosity with more than a hint of self-adulation, as well as the psychotic fear he has generated in the bipartisan political class, that threatens the president’s reelection. 

In the economy, immigration, the environment, nuclear nonproliferation, taxes, deregulation, recognition of the Chinese challenge, progress in the Middle East, shaping up the Western alliance, strengthening the judiciary and the national defense, and managing the COVID crisis, this president has had one of the most outstanding first presidential terms in the country’s history. It is his populist assault on the ruling class in Washington and the vagaries of his personality that will deny him the victory on the scale of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard M. Nixon seeking their second terms. Both men won 60 percent of the vote, and 46 of 48 states in 1936 and 49 of 50 in 1972, and except for the factors named Trump would do the same.

He will not, and much will ride on the last debate on Thursday and on public response to the media’s efforts to suppress the revelations of the Bidens’ skulduggery with Ukraine, Russia, and China. But it is objectively unlikely that so accomplished a president and so incomparably more forceful and capable a candidate will be turned out of office. The whole world has not followed an American election with such ardor since FDR ran for a third term in 1940 promising “All aid short of war” for the democracies against Hitler and Mussolini. At the least, Donald Trump, impresario and showman par excellence, is conducting the greatest spectacle in American history.

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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.

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