Wednesday, May 22, 2019


A couple of days ago, during a Pennsylvania rally, President Trump tried out a ridiculous new line of attack on Joe Biden:
“He's not from Pennsylvania,” Trump said. “I guess he was born here, but he left you folks. He left you for another state. Remember that, please....He left you for another state, and he didn't take care of you, because he didn't take care of your jobs. He let other countries come in and rip off America. That doesn't happen anymore."
It's ridiculous because Biden left the state with his family when he was ten years old. That's not a difficult fact to unearth -- it's right there on Biden's Wikipedia page. (I know Trump doesn't know how to use a Web browser, but surely someone who works for him does.)

Yesterday Biden fired back:
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday responded to President Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine his ties to Pennsylvania by playing up his connection to another key voting bloc: the working class.

“Yesterday, Trump tried to attack me at his campaign rally by saying I abandoned Pennsylvania. I’ve never forgotten where I came from,” Biden, the Democratic primary front-runner, wrote on Twitter.


I have a couple of thoughts about this.

First this was a terrible, embarrassing gaffe on the president's part -- or at least it should have been seen that way. In reality, the next time we get a "news analysis" of Trump's attack rhetoric, we'll be told, as we always are, that he's awesomely brilliant at demeaning nicknames and other insults. We'll be told that every critic and potential 2020 opponent fears the mighty power of Trump's putdowns. And it's not true. In this case, Trump faceplanted. No one quotes his "Alfred E. Neuman" insult for Pete Buttigieg. No one outside the right-wing fever swamps has picked up on catchphrases Trump loves and regularly repeats, such as "presidential harassment," or "18 angry Democrats" for the Mueller team.

So, as I've said a few times here, maybe Trump isn't really good at this. But no pundit will ever question his skills.

My other thought is that, while I don't appreciate Joe Biden's "fever will break" notion of Trump as an aberration, I'm grateful that he takes the fight to Trump. I hope he's inspired other 2020 Democrats to do the same.

Before Biden entered the race, the conventional wisdom was that Democratic presidential hopefuls shouldn't focus on Trump -- they should talk about issues, because that's what worked for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms.

But there's a difference between the midterms and the 2020 presidential election: the midterm Democrats weren't running for Trump's job. The 2020 hopefuls are literally running to defeat Trump. Maybe Biden is leading, at least in part, because, more than the other candidates, he seems ready to confront the guy he's running against. Maybe the other candidates took the wrong lesson from the midterms.

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