The Next 99 Days

Several stories we read on Sunday noted the presidential election was 100 days away, so by our calculations there are only 99 days to go. President Donald Trump spent much of Sunday golfing with former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, but starting today he should spend more time in the office.
The latest batch of public opinion polls were released on Saturday, and they’re even worse for Trump than the last batch, which were very bad. Trump can believe that each of the 19 polls released are “fake news,” but just in case they’re not he’ll need to deal effectively with very serious problems in the country.
The coronavirus will eventually “just go away,” as Trump has long promised, but it probably won’t happen in the 99 days. So far, with the death toll past 146,000 and cases spiking and hospital filling up in parts of the country he’ll need for reelection, the public seems unimpressed with his response. The states were the worst increases are occurring were states that Trump urged to fully reopen their economies earlier than health officials had advised, and all of their Republican governors are now restoring the measures and even ordering face masks in public, yet Trump continues to urge a laissez faire coronavirus response. The problem is bad enough that Trump reluctantly cancelled his convention in Florida, but he believes it not so bad that children can’t be back in school by mid-August, although most public health experts and the administration of the elite private school Trump sends his youngest son disagree.
So long as the coronavirus persists the economy will remain at its Great Depression level, and Trump seems indifferent to the tens of millions of unemployed who are set to lose the government largesse they’re counting on to pay rent and buy groceries. Nor does Trump want to offend the free market Republicans who are rightly worried about the exorbitant cost, although it probably won’t help the economy if tends of millions stop paying rent and buying groceries, and so he doesn’t have any alternative solutions to offer.
There’s also been outbreaks of rioting and looting and property destruction around, and although that would be bad news for most presidents in ordinary circumstances it actually gives Trump a glimmer of hope. He clearly intends to frighten the country to such an extent that they’ll turn to Trump, but that also carries political risks. Rioting and looting and property destruction are not at all popular, but sending militarized secret police units into cities where they are not wanted and beating and teargassing peaceful protests as well as violent rioters is also unpopular. Once again, Trump seems to have no middle-ground solution.
The president will probably spend most of the next 99 days trying to convince the public that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe is a greater threat than anything Trump is dealing with now. He’s already accused Biden of wanting to defund the police and hand the country to the “left wing mobs,” as we as wanting to “abolish the suburbs” and “ban windows” and “shut down” America’s energy industries except for those cancer-causing wind turbines, but it’s going to be a hard sell even for such a formidable salesman as Trump. “Sleepy Joe” has been Trump’s preferred taunting nickname, but it doesn’t sound very scary, and we expect that many Americans would now appreciate a president sleepier then Trump. Trump had also derided Biden as a “career politician,” which is true given his 40 years of public service in the Senate and as Vice President, but by now an experienced hand might seem appealing to a lot of Americans, and there’s nothing in that 40-year record that indicates he might turn America over to rampaging mobs or abolish the suburbs or ban windows and close a vital sector of the American economy.
Seventy-four-year-old Trump also likes to question the cognitive abilities of the 77-year-old Biden, but that would be more effective he stopped boasting about his ability to distinguish a lion from a camel and recited the words Person Woman Man Camera TV in order and count backward from 100 by seven. Biden has long been gaffe-prone, and will have many gaffes in the next 99 days, but none will probably be on the order of suggesting COVID-19 patients be injected with bleach or sending best wishes to an accused sex trafficker.
Trump still has 99 days, though, and he’s a resourceful fellow. Except that despite his best efforts to prevent early voting starts in early September in many states.
— Bud Norman

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