The next debate, if it happens, on Thursday, October, 22nd, in Nashville, is the World Cup, World Series, and Super Bowl rolled into one for the president. If he does well, he has a chance in November. If he just holds his own or comes off as a blustering braggart, he loses and with his loss America slips into the potential grip of authoritarian socialism. The nation may not come out of that grip during our lifetimes.
The hard left, as it has done in many other countries, will try to institutionalize itself into the norm by a mixture of PC oppression and socialist giveaways. Think Venezuela. Much, if not most, of the American public will swallow this hook, line, and sinker. Why? Because like everybody everywhere, Americans like free stuff. But also like many people, it won’t look too closely at where that stuff came from.
How did we get here, campaign wise? Covid-19 and the president. The president would be cruising to an easy reelection without the virus. But it came and he crippled the economy by overemphasizing the medical aspects of the pandemic while underestimating the damage his virus policies did to the economy. The administration should have launched a targeted response, used a scalpel not a sledgehammer, like certain states did. They should have put their focus on coastal states, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions. If they had we wouldn’t still be economically limping and the president would be 8 points up in the polls. He listened too much to Fauci and not enough to Kudlow. But it was the president’s watch and thus his fault.
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And then there’s the Trump the man. While infinitely preferable as president in comparison with Joe Biden, Donald Trump is his own worst enemy. He picks fights he doesn’t have to. Yes, many of them have been clever distractions to control the news cycle. But some have not. Some have been ego over logic and petulant pique over smart tactics. If Gettysburg is the price the South paid for Robert E. Lee, as Shelby Foote said, then this aspect of Trump’s personality, the thin skin and braggadocio, is the price we pay for Donald Trump’s undeniable success as president. His foibles are worth it. After all, we’re electing a president, not a school marm or pastor.
So at the last debate, Trump has to nail Biden to the wall on the Burisma meeting. Biden will dismiss it as a smear campaign and Russian disinformation. If that doesn’t work he will hit Trump on targeting his family, specifically his son who has had so many personal problems. But Trump must be cool, calm, and relentless, like he was against Hillary, when Biden does that. It’s Trump’s best hope, maybe his last hope, for reelection. He still has time to pull it off. However, if he comes out of that debate without a decisive win, his time will have run out.