While millions of Americans are thinking about stocking up on toilet paper and other necessities, or about the most convenient way to avoid millions of other Americans, those among us afflicted by the disease called politics are thinking about the electoral consequences of our national emergency.
Who comes out ahead in this crisis? Who comes out crippled? These are the real Corona questions that absorb the attention of politically obsessed people who are not personally affected by the virus. News is currently dominated by President Trump’s actions and remarks about the federal government’s actions and policies. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee might as well hibernate. This is not a criticism. In times of national emergency the nation’s chief executive becomes the focus of attention.
In times of crisis and anxiety most citizens look for strong leadership. Our Trump has made a lifelong career of projecting himself as an alpha male. He has the perfect state for exercising this talent. He performs as expected, dealing with the crisis on a daily basis, constantly the center of attention. Biden has attempted to call attention to himself by condemning the president’s quarantine decrees as xenophobic or, better yet, racist. This is hard to sustain with Italy ordering its cities and towns to erect quarantine barriers against each other, while Mexico and Canada develop mutual barriers with the United States. Good Ol’ Joe has also announced a new “Public Health Advisory Committee” which will advise him on plague policy. Or something. If he expected announcing the formation of a committee to generate a lot of excitement, he must be feeling a little disappointed. Nobody seems to care.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Schumer haven’t been getting a lot of attention either. They seem to be cooperating with the administration on devising an economic stimulus plan. Some conservatives accuse them of trying to insert a few liberal elements into the plan. Probably true, and so what? That’s how politics work. They reserve the right to criticize, but that is no substitute for the appearance of proactive leadership. They can’t take that away from the president any time soon.
Some liberal pundits have complained about the invisibility of the Democratic Party’s leadership but they have no solution. Pelosi, Schumer, and presumably Biden, know the risks of attacking Trump while Trump is attacking the pandemic. This inhibition does not affect the liberal “dark money” groups who see no risk in attacking Trump while he tries to calm public fears.
Pacronym, a liberal PAC, has announced plans to spend $5 million through July on negative ads on Trump’s handling of the crisis. Pacronym is affiliated with Acronym which has financial ties to the New Venture Fund, a nonprofit controlled by Arabella Advisors. Readers finding it difficult to disentangle all these organizations might find clarity if they keep in mind that, According to Susan Crabtree of Real Clear Politics, they were all started by Eric Kessler, who worked in the Clinton administration and was on the Clinton Global Initiative payroll before it went out of business.
American Bridge, founded by Hillary Clinton ally David Brock, is running corona virus-related ads in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and this week announced it would cut another one hitting Trump’s “incompetence” and feature clips of him “downplaying the crisis.”
Trump supporters seem to have decided to stick to a national unity strategy. Club for Growth has yanked ads attacking Biden and put them on hold. America First Action, a super PAC aligned with Trump, announced Feb. 26 its plans to target Trump’s “most likely Democratic challenger” with a “high-dollar digital television, and direct-mail blitz” in key battleground states. But the TV and digital ads have never appeared. No word on how long they planned to restrain themselves.
“His team is on it. They’ve been responsive,” Cuomo said at a press conference Tuesday. “I want to say thank you.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom has also warmly thanked the Republican president. Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Somali radical, has tweeted “@AyannaPressley always says, unprecedented times require unprecedented leadership and we are seeing that in our country right now. I have faith that we will survive this as a nation and build together.” And, “Finally, we should never let good politics get in the way of good policy. This is a great start and hope others will be part of a united front to push for good policies that will help us work through the economic anxiety the country is feeling right now.”
It appears that Trump’s advisers have put an indefinite hold on plans to bombard Joe Biden with negative ads. Their master’s self-indulgent combativeness and boastfulness may, however, undermine the effort to maintain his pose as a serious and solemn commander-in-chief. When asked about his handling of the crisis during a press conference he observed that “we have great approval numbers. People like the job I’m doing…I’m beating Sleepy Joe Biden by a lot in Florida and a lot of other states.”
Readers are attentive to news reports find that there both dire and optimistic predictions about the future of the pandemic. If the optimistic predictions come true before election day Trump will have a second term. It the problem gets worse or an end is not in sight, millions will blame him. A president gets credit for success ever if he had nothing to do with it. And he gets blame for failures that he had no hand making. In the meantime the hostile media will expose every error, exaggeration, and empty boast.
John Frary of Farmington, the GOP candidate for U.S. Congress in 2008, is a retired history professor, an emeritus Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United, a Maine Citizen’s Coalition Board member, and publisher of FraryHomeCompanion.com. He can be reached at [email protected]