The Day – Clarence Page: An autumn of discontent for Joe Biden and Donald Trump


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With all of his talk about the “wrong”, “biased”, “dishonest”, “corrupt” and “left” media, I know that Donald Trump loves us. He really does. It feeds on our attention. His insults are just his way of showing love.

Or maybe that’s just my cheerful journalist’s view of his recent attempt to move into what sounded like an endorsement by Democratic icon Stacey Abrams to replace Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

“Having you, I think, is maybe better than your current governor, if you want to know what I’m thinking,” Trump told a MAGA crowd in Perry, Georgia, who sounded unsure for a moment whether they were booing, cheering, or … Laugh. He had to be kidding, right?

But no, he underlined his supposed seriousness with “Stacey, would you like to take his place?

To the right. Abrams is a former state lawmaker who lost a narrow gubernatorial race in 2018 when she was all-out slammed by Trump. She is not even in the running for the record this time.

But that speech offered Trumpian justice for a moment. Kemp, who was all around Trump in 2018, has since committed the unforgivable sin in Trump World of refusing to support Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to overturn the 2020 Peach State election results that didn’t seem to Trump.

Trump may be particularly upset that some Georgia GOP agents tell reporters that Kemp’s boldly conservative positions on issues of culture war and “electoral integrity,” which Abrams’ side calls “voter suppression,” have kept him in good favor with his supporters.

If Kemp survives politically, his perseverance in the face of Trump’s wrath could serve as a model for other contested Republicans like Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney or Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who face stiff headwinds in the Grand Old Party after voting with eight other Republicans for Trump’s impeachment.

But on the Democratic side, with apologies to Shakespeare, this looks even more like an autumn of discontent.

Rifts between democratic moderates and progressives are exposed, as is the Grand Canyon.

President Joe Biden’s approval ratings have fallen, even in traditionally loyal Democratic constituencies such as women, African Americans, senior voters and working-class whites.

His honeymoon is long gone, as evidenced by his party’s tough struggle to bridge the internal rifts in Congress to pass two popular infrastructure laws.

That came after the chaotic retreat from the 20-year war in Afghanistan, which didn’t help its ratings either. Neither did the ugly news scenes of Haitian refugees being roughly crammed together and deported from our border with Mexico.

Is it too early to say that Donald Trump plans to run for president and that he has remarkably good odds? Again?

I’m not saying this because I vote for it, but because I’m a realist who, after winning in 2016, decided that I would never again underestimate Trump or his supporters. His base is still strong. So does his influence on most of the GOP, as shown in their unilateral platform for 2020, which announced the party’s decision not to have a platform:

“The RNC (Republican National Committee), if the Platform Committee could meet in 2020,” some said, “would undoubtedly have unanimously agreed to reaffirm the party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his administration.”

Translation, the party believes whatever Trump says – it believes. We keep seeing why Trump, as President, got along much happier with autocrats than with leaders who were forced by their democratic governments to actually answer to ordinary voters.

Of course, it’s important to remember that Biden and other Dems can still recover. The 2024 presidential elections are still a long way off. But first come next year’s midterm elections, in which the voting card heavily favors Republicans and threatens the wafer-thin majority of Democrats in both houses of Congress.

Perhaps the biggest gaps that the Biden White House has to worry about right now are the enthusiasm gap. In late September, Nate Cohn, poll correspondent for the New York Times, wrote that Biden’s ratings fell lower than all presidents except for two at similar times in their term in office – Gerald Ford and Donald Trump.

Republican Ford was defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980. Trump is still waiting, possibly to try again. Democrats examining their own internal divisions would do well to recall a question Trump asked famous black voters in 2016:

What do you have to lose?

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