How bad could tonight’s debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden be, really, compared to the last one? Remember that hot mess back in late September? Much of the news media, myself included, waxed ominous in the preamble about what would happen if Biden was unable to keep his cool in the face of the inevitable Trumpian onslaught.
Instead, Trump’s head exploded in a seemingly endless Möbius loop of rage gibberish as he thrashed about the stage like a boated swordfish. All Joe Biden had to do was look at the camera and smile, and that is largely what he did, and the polls rewarded him handsomely a few days later.
What’s been happening since then? Oh, nothing, except Trump caught COVID right after that first debate and went away for a week while they stuffed him with every anti-COVID medication available to science, and he lived, because of course he did, and now he thinks he’s invincible.
White House efforts to undermine the idea that the pandemic is deadly were doubled, and doubled again, as Trump moves from red state to red state holding maskless rallies that please his ego even as they infect his base.
Meanwhile, the rats are patting their pockets wondering where they left the keys to the outboard. Big-time Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who has been poisoning U.S. politics since the days of Ronald Reagan, just can’t even anymore. “It is the worst campaign I’ve ever seen,” Luntz snarled to The Hill, “and I’ve been watching them since 1980. They’re on the wrong issues. They’re on the wrong message. They’ve got their heads up their assess.”
No, Frank. They have their heads up Trump’s ass, which has been the problem from the jump.
Some have withdrawn from that odious orifice long enough to state, anonymously of course, that Trump is doomed and it’s all over but the shouty tantrum. Mitch McConnell, Ben Sasse and Susan Collins all spoke for the record when they said the hideous feces monster in the Oval Office could maybe try to be a better person, but an ever-increasing number of staffers and officials have begun croaking “Nevermore” from atop Trump’s chamber door… and you better believe he’s keeping tabs on all these goddamn birds in his belfry. “If you’re backing away from him now, don’t bother coming back for a favor when he wins,” says one whispered source.
Yeah, well, about that.
The debate tonight was thrown into temporary uncertainty a few days ago when Trump and his campaign abruptly attacked debate moderator Kristen Welker for being biased, while demanding the entire debate be focused on foreign policy. Attacking woman journalists is Trump’s ever-shabby default position, and his foreign policy debate threat soon withered once everyone simultaneously realized Trump probably couldn’t find the District of Columbia on a map, much less North Korea or Syria.
Besides, and not for nothing, but it was also just revealed that Trump has a secret bank account in China that he’s never disclosed before. From that account, he got up to who knows what shenanigans while paying upwards of $185,000 in Chinese taxes, compared to the $750 in taxes he’s paid to the U.S… so, yeah, secret Chinese bank account? Is he sure he wants to do foreign policy tonight?
Former President Obama was merciless in his withering fire on Wednesday: “Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election?” he asked a crowd in Philly. “They would’ve called me Beijing Barry.” The widely spread crowd swooned, and the clip played over and over on the news. If we know anything about Trump, it is that he hates being ridiculed, especially by Obama. Ridicule from that guy is one of the things that got this whole ball rolling nearly 10 years ago.
Trump also allegedly wants to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray, and maybe Attorney General Bill Barr, too, because neither have used the massive influence of their offices to bring Trump the skulls of his political enemies, so he might drink mead from those departed vessels by the firelight of his great hall… or something.
This from the guy who promised Jason Whitlock of Outtake on Thursday that Happy Donald is just waiting on the far side of victory. When asked if he might be kinder and/or gentler during a second term, he replied, “I think the answer is yes. I want the answer to be yes, but when I first came here, there was so much to do. I didn’t have time to be totally and politically correct. People don’t like me. But, you know, the softer side is good.”
I got nothing else. An earthquake is going to Nashville tonight to debate an elder statesman with more than a few weak spots of his own. For the most part, the poll numbers between Biden and Trump have not budged in months, even when explosive elements like Trump’s COVID diagnosis or the revelation of his tax documents have intervened. By the numbers, Trump is losing by a solid 10 points, and would need something truly remarkable to happen tonight in order to change that trajectory.
Meanwhile, there’s all this shit, this new shit stacked atop the yesterday shit that never quite seems to measure up to the grotesqueries of all the inevitable tomorrow shit. A debate moderator need only hold up the front page of any major daily in the country from any given day and say to Trump, “Dude, explain this,” and the night would collapse into yet another festival of self-serving glop.
I’m allergic to predictions, but this one seems safe: If Donald Trump vomits blue nuclear laser Godzilla fire on Joe Biden tonight, it might shake up the race. Otherwise, my simpler prediction is this: Biden keeps his head down and stays loose, while Trump rages futilely against the dying of the light, and the race, come the dawn, will be pretty much exactly where it stands right now.
Twelve days left.