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The Coronavirus pandemic is a lucky break for Joe Biden

By Curt Anderson
April 15, 2020 5:18 pm
Category: Politics

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The Coronavirus pandemic is a lucky break for Joe Biden's presidential campaign. Not that Biden or anybody wishes anyone ill or worse, but the new reality created by COVID-19 helps Biden.

Because of this epidemic, Joe Biden won't be expected or even allowed to hold political rallies. That's a good thing for the gaffe-prone Biden. The less he has to speak off-the-cuff the better it is for him. Reporters won't be documenting his malaprops because he won't be on the stump uttering any. Reporters have a low tolerance for any misstatements that Biden might make. They certainly gleefully report them.

Trump Will Probably Lose A Political And Psychological Outlet
Unfortunately for Donald Trump, it's likely that he won't be able to hold his Nuremberg style MAGA rallies. Trump, who has the glibness and ethics of snake oil salesman, thrives in those rallies. Trump has an apparent psychological need for the vocal affirmation of his adoring red-hatted supporters. Rallies are his emotional support. Trump's fans don't mind when Trump fabricates preposterously, mangles words or digresses into nonsensical tangents. The Trump crowds expect hear his insult comic shtick. His self-aggrandizement is what they want to hear. In a bonus for Trump, his fans are also unlikely to read or believe any fact-checkers from the "fake news" media who refute Trump's claims.

Aside from the emotional boost that Trump gets from rallies, rallies are a way for the Trump campaign to collect names for fund-raising and get-out-the-vote efforts. That tool is probably gone or greatly curtailed.

Trump's Worst Impulses On Display
Trump's coronavirus press briefings are replacing his political rallies. From the perspective of Trump's campaign they are a highly inadequate substitute. Trump's worst impulses are on full display in these press briefings: his mendacity, his need for praise, his inflated ego, his ignorance, his vindictiveness, his unwillingness to accept responsibility, etc. In other words, his traits that garner applause at his MAGA rallies are judged harshly by a wider and more skeptical television audience. Making matters worse for Trump, cable news channels have taken to fact-checking him nearly in real time.

Trump is uncomfortable with reporters asking relevant (which are "horrid" in his estimation) questions. Trump becomes evasive and agitated. Which is precisely what a worried nation doesn't want. The usually friendly news outlets such as Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal have panned his COVID briefing performances. Even his Republican allies in Congress have asked that he tone it down and stick to the facts.

Biden's Electronic Front Porch Campaign
As for Joe Biden, instead of political rallies as a way of reaching voters, he can employ an updated version of a tried-and-true campaign strategy, namely the front porch campaign. A front porch campaign is a low-key electoral campaign used in American politics in which the candidate remains close to or at home to make speeches to supporters who come to visit. The candidate largely does not travel around or otherwise actively campaign. The successful presidential campaigns of James A. Garfield in 1880, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, William McKinley in 1896 and Warren Harding in 1920 are examples front porch campaigns. (Enlarge image below)

When radio was the dominant form of mass communication, Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his "fireside chats" in an update of the front porch speech. When television was new, Dwight D. Eisenhower made the first televised commercials by presidential candidate. They were collectively called "Eisenhower Answers America" and were the then modern version of the front porch campaign. (See YouTube below)

In keeping with today's technology, Joe Biden wouldn't be addressing admirers on his front lawn, but speaking to wider audience via the internet and through television.

Biden can take his time, remove his flubs, and relax in the laid back and more intimate format of well produced, electronically delivered "front porch campaign". The format works well with his strengths which include expressing empathy. Undoubtedly he will also do live interviews but from the comfort of his home. As a man of 77 years it also is less rigorous way of campaigning than hitting the road for a series of political rallies and stump speeches. Not to mention there is less chance of being infected with any virus.

He can use the electronic front porch format to make news by introducing his vice presidential choice and his "shadow cabinet" which in contrast with Trump's preference for sycophants will showcase Team Biden's competence.

COVID-19 is a lucky break for Biden. A social distant form of campaigning will be expected and perhaps a legal requirement, so Trump won't be able to effectively launch his "Sleepy Joe" attack or other gibes accusing Biden of lacking stamina. Sure, Biden will be staying home, but he'll be doing what good Americans are doing now to contain the virus.

The Political Theory Of Opposite Traits
Students of politics that Americans tend to replace a president with a candidate that exhibits the opposite traits of his predecessors most prominent and usually worst characteristic. The aloof George H. W. Bush was defeated by Bill "I feel your pain" Clinton. Bill Clinton's philandering was replaced with the religiosity and rectitude of George W. Bush. No Drama Obama was replaced with Donald Trump who provides constant drama to an exhausting degree. I mentioned Donald Trump's worst impulses above. Biden doesn't share Trump's character flaws or his personality disorders. He is close to being Trump's opposite. After the frenetic Trump years America will welcome a return to normalcy.




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