Friday, October 23, 2020

Day 228 Nat'l Emergency: Biden Opens a Door

 Did Joe Biden’s devotion to talking policy over polemics provide Donald Trump a path to election victory during an otherwise nothing-new debate Thursday night?

Trump pounced on Biden’s admission that his ultimate, though distant, goal for the United Stars is to transition from reliance on oil and other fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources. Biden said he would eliminate oil industry subsidies.

Trump seized the moment by noting key states like Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio (states Biden is hoping to win) and Oklahoma are populated by many whose jobs are dependent on oil production. By the time you read this Trump most probably will already have rolled out ads asserting Biden is out to take away their jobs.

Biden’s defense of his position made sense to anyone who carefully listened and, more importantly, cares about global warming and the need to undertake seismic shifts away from carbon gas production. But pitting the planet’s future against the specter of losing one’s job is a hard sell.

Though The New York Times observed that “Significantly, Mr. Biden made no serious error of the sort that could haunt him in the final days of a race in which he’s leading,” I am not so confident. 

Trump will mercilessly exploit the opportunity presented to him. He has to because he failed Thursday night to provide assurance or empathy in his approach to handling the surging coronavirus or his thoughts on how he would unite the country during a second term. Biden did.

The election is 11 days away. Few undecided voters remain. As we saw in 2016, elections via the Electoral College can be won by a sliver of votes in key states, among them Pennsylvania, Ohio and even Texas. 

Biden will be forced to play damage control in those states. He has cast this election as a vote for the soul, character and future of the country. He must hope voters in fossil fuel producing states see beyond their immediate paychecks.