Thursday, March 22, 2018


This makes me sad:
President Donald Trump on Thursday called Joe Biden “weak, both mentally and physically,” suggesting he could easily beat up the former vice president, in response to Biden’s comment that he would have sought to fight Trump over his remarks about women if the two were in high school together.
I'm sure you saw the tweet:

It was in response to this assertion in a Biden speech to students at the University of Miami on Tuesday:
"A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, 'I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'" Biden said. "They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said 'no.' I said, 'If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'"

"I've been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life," Biden continued. "I'm a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room."
On Biden's remarks, I agree with Esquire's Jack Holmes:
This is cringeworthy rhetoric from the former vice president of the United States.... This kind of toxic, performed masculinity is all too common in politics, but it's discouraging to see it at the highest levels of leadership. We expect little more from the president.... But Biden ought to be different.

When he first big-talked Trump, Biden began with an incisive, impassioned salvo about why the Mobile Locker Room tape was so disgusting. The next part wasn't necessary:

I think that's exactly right. Biden is terrific in that earlier clip -- up to the point where he talks about beating up (then-candidate) Trump. Keep the denunciations of sexual assault, Joe. Lose the rest.

This, by the way, is presumably what Philippe Reines wants in 2020. Remember that his advice to Democrats seeking to defeat Trump included the following:
●Go high when you can. But when he goes low, take advantage of the kneeling to knock his block off....

●Boast. Gloat. About your accomplishments. Your biceps. Your everything.
I said it before and I'm sticking with this: You won't beat Trump by being Trump. Trump will always be better at this particular form of gutter politics than anyone else. You'll beat Trump by being cooler than Trump, by making him (and his bluster) seem pathetic and uncool. Barack Obama could have done it, as could Bill Clinton in his prime. I hope the next Democrat can do it. This won't do it.

But let's go back to Trump's tweet. Chris Cillizza says it shows that Trump "sees himself as a street fighter." I think it shows that Trump wants to be seen as a street fighter. A lot of people buy his act, but I don't. And do you know who else doesn't fully buy it?

Trump himself.

I see a lot of worried projection in that tweet. "Actually, [Biden] is weak, both mentally and physically" -- what evidence is there of that? On the other hand, Trump has been accused of both lately -- a while back, many people expressed skepticism about the glowing words of the doctor who conducted Trump's physical, and there's been a lot of speculation about Trump's mental acuity, which some observers think is in serious decline. These words in the Trump tweet seem as desperate to me as "No puppet. You're the puppet" -- Trump's I'm-rubber-you're-glue denial in a presidential debate of a subservient relationship to Vladimir Putin.

"He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way," Trump writes, because he can't bear to lose. He has to insist that he'd win, and not only win, but swiftly and decisively. He can't tolerate the thought that someone would even assert that he'd lose -- even that is shameful to him.

The voices from his childhood still tell him that he has to be tough all the time. They'll never let go of him.

A mature person -- certainly a mature president -- would have ignored Biden's provocation, especially given the fact that no such fight will ever take place, as Trump and Biden both know. But Trump can't ignore Biden. That isn't because he's a tough guy -- it's because the voices won't stop.

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