Rich Lowry / Oct. 9, 2020

Trump Is Letting Down His Side

If Trump loses, the story isn't going to be what was done to him, rather what he did to himself.

If this is the most important election of our lifetimes, is it too much to ask that the president of the United States act like it?

The president’s most devoted backers talk about the election in apocalyptic terms — Michael Anton of Hillsdale College, author of the famous “The Flight 93 Election” essay in 2016, is the unsurpassed master of the genre.

The stakes are undoubtedly huge. The policy swing from a President Donald Trump to a President Joe Biden alone would be massive, and progressives are talking about adding states for more Democratic Senate seats and packing the Supreme Court — changes meant to shift the balance of American government enduringly in their direction.

The warnings from the right about the potentially existential stakes of 2020 often inveigh against Republican pundits critical of Trump, yet never get around to urging any correction on the president’s part. Indeed, even as Trump, too, talks in dire tones about the consequences of a Biden victory, he doesn’t seem to have absorbed the message.

If the existence of the country itself is on the ballot, why not prepare better for debates? Why not use Twitter exclusively for messages that advance his cause rather than detract from them? Why waste any time on petty animosities and distractions? Why not write down a health care plan and a COVID-19 plan to blunt Biden’s most potent issues?

Why not, in short, do a few things that are uncomfortable or unnatural in the cause of, you know, saving the country from imminent political destruction?

Of course, by this point, even asking these questions seem naive, although there were times in 2016 when Trump modulated his behavior enough to make a difference.

Prior to the first Trump-Biden debate, journalist Ryan Lizza looked back at the 2016 Trump-Hillary clashes and made the case that Trump was relatively disciplined and kept coming back to his central themes.

In his first clash with Biden, in contrast, an out-of-control Trump blew himself up in the course of trying to demolish the former vice president. If Biden was calculatedly evasive and canned, Trump was profligate and underprepared — the way he almost always is.

As my colleague, Ramesh Ponnuru points out, in 2016 Trump fastened on underappreciated issues that voters cared about — trade, immigration and PC. This time, he’s focused on matters that obsess him, not the average voter.

The sources of the Russia investigation should, as a matter of basic accountability, be established and disclosed. But no one who is not already a Trump voter cares about dubious investigatory decisions from four years ago.

Nor is anyone as exercised as the president about critical things said about him on cable TV programs.

Trump has waged a low intensity campaign against masks, for no good reason. By setting himself against them, largely on aesthetic grounds, Trump further opened himself up to charges that he doesn’t take the virus seriously — even before his illness and the White House outbreak.

Consider, on the other side of the ledger, how Trump, by and large, leads on the top issue of the election, the economy. Still, there has been no sustained case against Biden’s economic program. On what should be his foremost advantage, Trump has turned the famous James Carville adage on its head, “It’s everything else, stupid.”

If the time eventually comes for recriminations after a defeat in November (not a certainty, even at this late date), Trump’s hardcore supporters will have plenty of places to point — a once-in-a-century pandemic and an overwhelmingly hostile media, among other things.

Be that as it may, Trump won’t have been stabbed in the back; he will have committed a form of political hara-kiri because he found it easier and more enjoyable than exercising a modicum of self-discipline.

If Trump loses, the story isn’t going to be what was done to him, rather what he did to himself.

© 2020 by King Features Syndicate

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.