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!”
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.
Trump hasn’t addressed any of these yet. Instead, he is focusing on Biden’s mental acuity. “Sleepy Joe,” Trump said last 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.”
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.
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.
This is the downside to the preemptive strike: Every projection is a confession of guilt.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Have you ever seen a national candidate or nominee stumble over so many words and putting sentences together?” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) asked. “I think he’s really struggling. I think Trump will make mincemeat of him in a debate.”
Paul has a point. It’s hard to rebut Trump’s statements. That’s because it’s hard to understand them.