Monday, May 18, 2020

Day 67 of Nat'l Emergency: Joe Misspeaks, Trump Stumbles Toward a New China Relationship

What should we make of Uncle Joe’s latest humdinger (latest being very transient and perhaps overtaken by a new faux pas by the time this gets posted).

Sure, the 77-year-old presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee last week mixed up statistics about the devastation of the coronavirus. Joe Biden said 85,000 people were out of work and millions had died. 

Poor Joe, his mouth and mind do not always work in sync. But who among us has not conflated statistics when making public, even personal, observations. 

Of course, we hold our politicians, especially those who seek the presidency, to a higher standard, at least if those pols are Democrats. 

Republicans, on the other hand, have long abandoned any fealty to facts if the spigot of wisdom is Donald Trump. They only care for truth if a Democrat speaks, much the same way they railed against budget deficits by Democrats with nary a word of dissent when Republican presidents catapulted the national debt to the stratosphere.

Though Biden’s misspeaks provide fodder for ridicule from the insulter-in-chief, they have also generated an undercurrent of belief that Democrats should dump him in favor of a younger, more verbally adept candidate who would be able to stand up to Trump during debates. 

My response is Democrats should not panic. While not a perfect candidate, Biden, by all thoughtful accounts, is the lesser of what many call evils. Would the public rather have a candidate who misaligns statistics about the number who are dead with the number who have lost jobs, or would it prefer an incumbent who tells people to swig some Clorox, or who disdains the advice of scientists not only on COVID-19 but on climate change and relaxes EPA rules that further endanger our citizens and planet? 

The election is more than five months away. Only political junkies are tuned in to every word Biden utters. As for Trump, we are forced to hear or read about his latest delusional ravings because the media focuses on them as he is president. Several studies have shown that the more he rants and raves, the more votes from Independents and Never Trump Republicans he is sending Biden’s way.

Consider Trump’s latest barrage against what he calls Obamagate. He wants the former president investigated and charged for what he says was a conspiracy to topple his presidency. A heinous crime, if true. But Justin A. Horwitz, in a Facebook post, posed an interesting question: “If the president has absolute immunity like Trump says, how can Obama be guilty of ‘crimes’ committed as president?”

As the Shakespearean saying goes, “Hoisted by one’s own petard!” (D’ya think Trump ever read “Hamlet?”)

Deuces Wild: There are two wild cards when it comes to the election. First, the status of COVID-19 infections and its impact on the economy. Second, our relationship with China.

Trump realizes he will be held responsible if business does not return to a semblance of normalcy with lots of people returning safely to work. He’s pushing for a quick return so five months from now voters will not hold him accountable for the loss of at least 100,000 lives because of his inaction in February and March to prepare the country for the pandemic.

China is a more vexing issue. The Donald thought he could sweet talk Xi Jinping into economic concessions. But the novel coronavirus outbreak shattered their bonhomie. Trump now is playing a blame, and race, game against the Chinese. 

A winning strategy might be to base his reelection on changing our relationship with China. China, not North Korea or Iran, is more of an existential threat to our way of life than any other country, even Russia, given our reliance on China for much of our consumer and healthcare products and even strategic technical and military equipment. 

But to change that relationship Trump must educate the American public and convince it that it is in their best interests to pay a little more for all the products that China produces cheaply for us. In addition,  U.S. companies must abandon their manufacturing plants in China and build them either in America or in countries that are not as competitive with us for world domination. They might also have to forego the Chinese consumer market which would sharply slow their growth rates. That wouldn’t sit well with too many farmers who export soy beans, hogs and other foodstuffs to China. 

If Trump had developed a rapport with more than just the hotheads who follow him blindly this strategy might work, but I doubt he could pull it off. Besides, he’d first have to convince Ivanka to give up her China trade.