What If It’s Scorched Earth?

I often think I learned more during the fifteen seasons I coached high school or college basketball than from my formal education. In coaching one of the keys to victory is to ascertain your opponent’s strategy. You assumed their goal was to win. Those lessons are applicable to politics and elections. What if your opponent is an incumbent who has decided they cannot win and therefore their goal is to destroy as much as possible on their way out the door? President Trump appears to be acting that way. Let’s explore.

Donald Trump has been acting irrationally since he took that escalator ride in 2015 but even more so last week. The kindest rational is that he is being impacted by the steroids. (I wonder if he knows one of the side effects is to shrink testicles.)

Last week he refused to debate Joe Biden under the new safety precautions the Debate Commission instituted. I have less than 100% confidence in the polls but any way you slice it Trump is behind at this point and he is “late in the game”. His first debate performance was disastrous but so (to a much lesser degree) were the first debate performances of several other recent incumbent presidents who were reelected. What Trump is doing is similar to a football team down by 20 in the fourth quarter running the ball between the tackles. Should he hit a home run or Biden stumbles badly in a debate he can gain ground.

Aside from an irrational stock market the economy is in terrible shape. Fair or not the president often receives blame or credit from the voters for the economy. For decades consumer demand has accounted for about 70% of total demand in the American economy. Many Americans are economically hurting. Late last week Tuesday afternoon Trump abruptly (and seemingly unilaterally) announced that negotiations were over and there would be no stimulus before Election Day. The biggest political short term beneficiary of another round of stimulus would be Trump. His action –which after the stock market did a nosedive and he was saved by the closing bell – Trump quickly reversed. Whether and when a deal can be reached is still very much an open question. Trump needs a deal to get reelected. Conversely, from a political standpoint the congressional Democrats might be in better shape without one before Election Day. The voters who have been adversely affected by the Trump Depression are much more likely to blame Trump than the Democrats.

The reality is that we cannot get straight answers from Trump, his physicians or spokespersons as to his health. With Trump’s track record the only logical conclusion is that he is hiding something. Monday, when he made his return to the White House and the only logical assumption was that he was still positive for the coronavirus, the first thing he did was take off his mask thereby endangering everyone he came into contact with. That is simply not the action of a sane, logical, responsible person!

As of this writing he has planned a Saturday afternoon White House event with hundreds in attendance. Trump reminds me of the band that has passed its peak. Instead of playing sold out stadiums and large arenas it is now playing bars drawing a few hundred instead of tens of thousands.

To date Trump has done staged and controlled “events” since returning to the White House from his six figure stay (which we paid for) at Walter Reed. He spent two hours on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. (Rush is well known to have his own controlled substance history.) He has also done remote interviews with friendly Fox hosts including Maria Bartiromo and his bedtime phone buddy, Sean Hannity.

Mr. Trump it’s a little late in the game to spend all your resources shoring up your base. There are still a few (in my opinion very few) undecided voters out there. You need to be targeting them and soft Biden supporters. If you don’t have all the racists, xenophobes, homophobes, misogynists and greedy wealthy people by now it’s too late.

Trump also attacked some of his top sycophants last week wondering aloud why Biden, his son Hunter, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama haven’t already been arrested and faced charges. (What the crimes are is another mystery matter of right wing mythology which I’m thankfully ignorant of. I have little time for fantasy.) Mr. Trump, Hunter is not and never has run for public office. It’s 2020, not 2016 and Hillary is not your opponents. Obama is retired from seeking public office. He achieved something you never will – he won the popular vote for president twice. You would serve yourself well by concentrating on your opponent!

In the increasingly likely scenario that Trump loses I still think that the remaining 11 week until the inauguration will be some of the most dangerous time in American history. One saving grace may be that the ensuing chaos will somewhat constrain Trump thereby shortening his “window of opportunity”. With the Proud Boys and other groups including the militias in Michigan – those not already in jail for plotting to kidnap and kill Governor Gretchen Whitmer that is – standing by expect violence and lawlessness.

You can be part of the best defense of democracy; VOTE!!!!!!

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One thought on “What If It’s Scorched Earth?”

  1. I worry profoundly for the safety of this country. You alluded to it at the top of your commentary. I fully expect Trump to take down as many of us as he can when he loses.

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