A leftist opinion writer, who believes every lie about Trump, uses a strawman version of Trump to make the wacky argument that Trump fears Biden’s strength.
Before five minutes ago or so, I’d never heard of Windsor Mann. According to his Twitter bio, he’s a “Member of @USATODAY’s Board of Contributors, contributor to @TheWeek, editor of The Quotable Hitchens, are you bored yet?” Well, I’m only a little bored. If that was all there was to Mann, he would be a big “Whatever” (as the teens say).
What Mann’s bio doesn’t include is a statement that he doesn’t like President Trump. No, that’s too anodyne. He despises President Trump.
His hatred for Trump has led Mann to write an unintentionally funny essay at The Week entitled, “Why Trump fears Biden.” It is the political essay version of Mary McCarthy’s famous slam about Lillian Hellman, “I can’t stand her. I think every word she writes is false, including ‘and’ and ‘but.’”
When it comes to Donald Trump, Mann credulously believes every lie uttered about him. He probably still believes in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy too. This is a guy whose brain has never evolved beyond believing what other people tell him without any analysis or suspicion. Reagan said, “Trust but verify.” Mann says, “If it’s mean about Trump, it must be true.”
I thought it would be fun to fisk Mann’s essay because, really, what else can you do when a pundit says that one of the most effective American presidents ever fears a doddering career politician who is showing every sign of dementia? (I really don’t like The Intercept for the reasons Daniel Greenfield identifies, but Glenn Greenwald does a good job discussing Democrats concerns about Biden’s declining cognitive abilities.)
So, here goes. I’ll first quote Mann, and then I’ll explain where he gets it wrong:
President Trump is as scared of running against Joe Biden as he is of running. The question is, why? One reason he fears Biden is because Biden is like him. He’s old, gets confused, mispronounces words, forgets things, and makes gaffes. But attacking him for these things invites the obvious response: “He sounds a lot like you!”
Trump is five years young than Biden. There are two times in life when five years is the equivalent of five lifetimes: When we are very young and when we are very old. The difference between a newborn and a five-year-old is a vast chasm. The difference between a thirty-year-old and a forty-year-old is a hairline crack. And then, as people cross into old age, that five years matter again (although it’s not quite as consistent as it is with children).
At 70, people can still be vibrant; at 80, they’re old; at 90, they are ancient. And within those decades, the breakdowns happen very fast. Again, it’s not as consistent as it is with children but a vibrant 72-year-old who’s on top of the world, barely sleeps, and has endless energy is very different from a frail, confused 77-year-old whose face is beginning to take on the skeletal look of someone nearing the end of life.
As for those gaffes, anyone with a camera in his face 24/7 makes gaffes. But we can also recognize trends in those gaffes. Trump is defensive and, like the salesman he is, puffs. Obama was unbelievably ignorant. And Biden is loopy and lost. All gaffes are not created equal.
Indeed, Trump can’t attack Biden without attacking himself. Biden’s weaknesses magnify Trump’s, which are far worse. There’s nothing that Biden does that Trump doesn’t do worse. Biden has been touchy with women; Trump has been criminal with women. Biden has hair plugs; Trump has something worse. Biden said Barack Obama was “articulate.” Trump said Obama was Kenyan.
Biden has been touchy with little girls. That’s morally wrong even if he hasn’t crossed the line into illegality.
Trump has done nothing to women. All we know with certainty is that he stated a truth since time immemorial: If you’re rich and powerful, there are women who will give you physical access.
Biden definitely has hair plugs.
Trump has a funky combover. Which is worse is a matter of taste.
Biden also said Obama was clean. That’s really a nasty thing to say.
Obama said Obama was Kenyan, a fact stated in his (presumably approved) literary agent’s brochure, something that Obama changed only two months after announcing he was running for president.
Trump hasn’t addressed any of these yet. Instead, he is focusing on Biden’s mental acuity. “Sleepy Joe,” Trump saidlast week, “he doesn’t even know where he is or what he’s doing or what office he’s running for. Honestly, I don’t think he knows what office he’s running for.”
Honestly, Biden doesn’t know what office he’s running for nor does he know who he is:
My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. Look me over, if you like what you see, help out. If not, vote for the other Biden.
Trump never has that problem. Now, back to Mann:
In typical narcissistic fashion, Trump is projecting his flaws onto his opponent. He did this in 2016 when he attacked Hillary Clinton for running a fraudulent charity and risking state secrets. When Clinton said Trump was Vladimir Putin’s “puppet” in a debate, Trump shot back, “You’re the puppet!” Which was unconvincing. By parroting Clinton’s accusation, he effectively confirmed it. Trump’s team learned a valuable lesson from that: Always accuse your opponent of that which you are guilty — and do it before he or she accuses you. With Biden, Trump is shouting “You’re the puppet!” preemptively.
Hillary pocketed millions from the fake foundation and did worse in Haiti. Hillary was Putin’s puppet. First, nobody’s ever investigated the fact that, even as Hillary, while Secretary of State, was signing off on a corrupt Russian company’s purchase of 20% of America’s uranium, the Clinton Foundation made $145 million off of major players in the deal. Hmmm. Second, it was her campaign that bought dirty from the Russians to destroy Trump.
Trump began the week by tweeting, “The Obama/Biden Administration is the most corrupt Administration in the history of our Country!” To paraphrase Dragnet, the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
He tweeted that because an Obama Acting Inspector General for the DHS was indicted for allegedly stealing from and defrauding the government. Here’s a good, incredibly long, list of all the other naughty things and bad people from Obama’s time in the White House.
This is the downside to the preemptive strike: Every projection is a confession of guilt.
A meaningless statement given the facts.
The Republican Party is smearing Biden by likening him to Trump. Steve Guest, the RNC’s rapid response director, tweeted: “Joe Biden confuses who his wife is and who his sister is during Super Tuesday speech.” Unlike Trump, who confuses his daughter for his mistress.
Joe Biden was caught on film confusing his wife and his sister. Trump has always been proud of Ivanka. He’s talked about her beauty in crude terms, which is on him. However, he’s never lost sight of the fact that she’s his daughter. His incredible pride in her seems to be a form of narcissist projection – she’s mine, I made her – but it’s definitely not confusing her with someone else.
Donald Trump Jr. said that Biden’s “family fortunes” were “totally tied to him being in elected office.” The next day, he tweeted, “It’s almost like the whole Biden family is entity [sic] dependent on Joe holding public office?” It’s almost as if Donald Trump Jr. became a best-selling author because the RNC bought copies of his book in bulk during his father’s presidency.
Biden’s family fortunes are totally tied to him being in elected office. Except for Beau, who seems to have been the best of the bunch, all the others are grifters to whom Biden threw opportunities because of his political position.
While it’s true that Trump’s children work in the family business, they worked their way up and have been highly productive on their own. Donald Trump Jr. paid his bills before the RNC bought his book – and the RNC bought his book to use as a fundraiser, meaning they knew people would actually want it.
On Tuesday, Eric Trump said, “If my father was making the same gaffes as he was, they would literally invoke Article 25 of the uh,” by which he meant the U.S. Constitution.
What in the world does Eric Trump’s having a brain fart on the word “Constitution” have to do with Donald Trump? This isn’t an argument; it’s just an ad hominem attack.
This is the document Trump swore to uphold and hasn’t read. Among the parts he hasn’t read, he hasn’t read the impeachment clauses the most. At a rally in North Carolina this month, Trump said that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Pete Buttigieg “should be impeached.” Trump is the third president to be impeached and the first president who, after being impeached, doesn’t know how impeachment works.
Does Mann know that Senators can be impeached? Trump was saying that, because they were probably bought off by the Biden campaign, that could be a basis for impeachment. It’s certainly as strong a basis as it was for Trump’s faux impeachment, one that was so corrupt the public supported him more strongly afterward than they did before.
Trump reveals his ignorance every time he speaks, which is too often. Last year, he said, “When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose. It’s not a gaffe.” Two days later, Trump said that one of America’s “greatest strides” was the “abolition of civil rights.” It’s somehow just as unsettling for the president to declare his opposition to civil rights by accident as it is on purpose, and it’s equally plausible.
Considering that Trump’s policies have done more for blacks and other minorities than any other president since Abraham Lincoln, Mann again reveals that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Again, some gaffes are clearly just the tangled tongue of someone whose every utterance is recorded. Others, like Obama’s, reveal extraordinary ignorance. And still others, like Joe’s, reveal a mind in meltdown.
In an interview on Fox Business in 2017, Trump managed to recount the details of a cake he was eating while launching missiles, but not which country he was attacking. Trump, who claimed to have “one of the best memories in the world” and then forgot he said that, says Biden has a deficient memory.
Watch the video to which Mann linked and you’ll see that Trump probably said “Iraq” rather than “Syria,” because he’d just been speaking about Iraq. Maybe I’m forgiving because I have word problems like that as well. I always have had. There’s nothing in the narrative, though, that suggests that Trump doesn’t know precisely what he’s talking about.
He does. On Tuesday, Biden, discussing guns, mistakenly said “AR-14” instead of “AR-15.” This was the same day that Trump, asked about the coronavirus, said, “I’ve been briefed on every contingency you could possibly imagine. Many contingencies. A lot of positive. Different numbers. All different numbers. Very large numbers, and some small numbers too, by the way.”
As Mann says in the next paragraph, “that is how Trump speaks.” It’s a funny, telegraphic way that does take getting used to. As Scott Adams says, though, Trump’s manner of speaking is amazingly persuasive. He can be oblique when he doesn’t want to commit, but most of the time people take away his message.
When it comes to Biden, in addition to talking about AR-14s, he said that AR-15s were illegal (they’re not), that a voter was full of shit, and that he wanted to take the voter outside. During a recent debate, he said 150 million Americans (more than half the current American population) had died because of guns in the last 13 years. He talks about making kids listen to record players, can’t remember God’s name, doesn’t know what office he’s running for, and, significantly, gets worse as the evening progresses. These aren’t gaffes and these aren’t words intended to conceal or prod people’s emotions. This is confusion.
This is how Trump speaks: He uses a lot of words to say nothing at all. His mouth is always open and his mind is always closed.
Trump is the most effective conservative leader since . . . possibly ever. Mann may hate his policies but it’s impossible to argue that this man is stupid or senile. He’s too effective to be either.
So no, I’m pretty sure that Trump is not afraid of Joe Biden.