Commentary: No repeat history for Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump flouts the Hatch Act and delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House Aug. 27, 2020. Trump gave the speech in front of 1500 invited guests. Photo by Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump flouts the Hatch Act and delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House Aug. 27, 2020. Trump gave the speech in front of 1500 invited guests. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

How do you win an election for President and more importantly in 2020 for Donald Trump, how do you win two times in a row?

Predicting answers that favor Biden or Trump before the election is risky but let’s try. 

The first issue is why and how did Trump win in 2016?

Part of the answer is the Clinton team made mistakes and the random luck factor was all bad. They did not run a great or even excellent campaign. Give them C+ for creating a quasi-incumbent campaign with lots of money, lots of data, a capable staff with poor leadership at critical junctures, messages and speeches that had little emotional appeal, bad scheduling and budgeting at the end, and poor issue selection. 

The bad luck: then FBI Director James Comey pulled his own October Surprise announcement of a new email investigation against Clinton just days before the 2016 election and Putin’s Russian criminals tried hard to hurt her organization and her social media.

Trump won because:

  • He was an outsider shouting “drain the swamp” “lock her up”,  both threats calculated to enthuse anti-Hillary Clinton, anti-female and anti-government voters.
  • Trump was able to peddle and sell his self-created image of being a strong man. Remember Trump’s promise/threat, “I could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and get away with it.” It’s always a good campaign tactic to at least appear strong. For example, Michael Dukakis’s campaign never recovered after folks saw him looking weak in a tank.
  • He was slick  and slimy enough in his racist attitudes to enthuse his white racist base through birtherism — the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama wasn’t born in America — the allegation Mexicans are criminals, immigrants are animals and the promise of a ban on all Muslims. Trump was willing to shout outrageous fake facts and make scandalous claims to magnify his presence and grab almost all the free media publicity.
  • Trump was willing to promise anything whether related to reality or just wholly made up.  He solidified the wretches who watch and believe that reality shows are, well, real.
  • Trump was secretly Putin’s best friend and counted on Putin’s help to protect him by releasing Clinton’s emails which arrived the same day Trump’s boasts about assaulting women came to light.
  • His promise to pack the Supreme Court with conservative anarchists who only believe in following precedents when the precedents agree with their private political and personal beliefs.

The second issue is whether history is about to repeat itself with a Trump victory again in 2020.  The clear answer is no.

The Biden campaign has done their part well. Give them a B+. They have not made any major mistakes. 

The perpetual motion speeches rarely got out of hand, the age issue was nullified by Trump’s COVID-19 hospitalization, and with the pandemic threatening us, stalling our economy and jobs, voters have no interest in the usual Republican messages that Democrats are evil people in league with Satan to starve our dogs and cats, take our emojis away and steal our babies.

Biden has stayed on message that he will be a strong leader, will listen to medical doctors, will make controlling COVID-19 our first priority, and will restore civility and decency to our national leadership. That strong message, plus just plain soul weariness about Trump enthuses Democrats and makes them eager to vote.

Bottom line, Trump loses this time because:

  • Trump has demonstrated many times he is not an outsider, but instead a dishonest carnival barker desperate to take all the money he and his family can juice out of the Presidency. 
  • His vitriolic disdain for all women who do not adore and extol him plus his repeated snubs, slights, slander, barbs, bullying, abuse, and insults have totally flipped the large majority of the women’s vote to Biden.
  • Trump has destroyed his delusional image of strength with more fumbles, picks, and penalties than the very worst NFL quarterback.Clear now to many of his 2016 voters is that Trump is not on their side, is not capable of managing the government and does not care that his image has crumbled due to his ignorant and uncaring attitudes.
  • He has ramped up the hatred and bigotry and plays it for a joke. People know the soul of our great nation is in harm’s way.  His scurrilous remarks equating the George Floyd protestors with thugs and invitation to the white nationalist Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” make his bigotry plain.
  • Trump has been willing to continue to shout outrageous fake facts and make scandalous claims but many have tuned him out. It is incredible to imagine in 2020 with our almost magical communications and connections that we need to shelter from the daily rants of our own President.
  • He has confirmed time after time, he is Putin’s friend and ally.
  • Trump has packed the Supreme Court and his base loves it, but that period is over. The 2020 winner likely  gets no Supreme Court appointments in the next four years so the motivation for Trump’s single issue supporters to vote has gone away.