For weeks now, I’ve been worried about Joe Biden. Yes, the deadly coronavirus presents serious political problems for Donald Trump( despite his current glowing approval ratings, this crisis undermines the one thing he had going for him: a good economy ), but consider how quickly the pandemic killed the Joe-mentum.
It wasn’t that long ago that Joe , not COVID-1 9, was the talk of the town–and rightly so.
After a campaign season when Biden barely managed to tread water, and where reference is practically wrote him off on the ends of pathetic operations in Iowa and New Hampshire, suddenly Joe came hooting back with a surprising win in South Carolina that propelled him to a huge Super Tuesday.
The world was Joe’s oyster, baby–but that turned out to be a turning point in the news cycle. I know this because Super Tuesday was also the last time that I was invited to appear on cable word as a political commentator( in the Trump era, turns out, I should have become an FBI agent, lawyer … or a virologist ).
By the time Super Tuesday II( or whatever we’re order it) came along, Biden’s miraculous turnaround was already headline story number II, taking a backseat to( deservedly) breathless pandemic coverage.
By March 10, when Biden mashed Bernie Sanders in Michigan, Missouri, and elsewhere, out of the abundance of careful, he would be delivering his “victory” lectures to empty-bellied apartments.
Talk about anticlimactic. Biden had waited 22 times to acquire his first presidential primary on Feb. 29. For the first time in his life, he was a candidate for chairwoman who was generating excitement and interest. And that lasted about 15 minutes.
Emergencies vary everything. Despite the misinformation Donald Trump regularly spews, he is( by virtue of being president) relevant. So are heads. Every day they contain news conference and “make” news. They trot out experts and perform stats about the number of N9 5 respirators or surgical concealments they need–or they talk about exhausting their needed quantities from some( supernatural ?) sit called the” national stockpile .”
During an emergency, they don flak cases, NYPD baseball caps, or crisp polos with embroidered emergency emblems. You’ve probably heard the scuttlebutt about Andrew Cuomo replacing Biden on the Democratic ticket. At least half of that is attributable to his outfit.
So, while Trump and Cuomo were maintaining their daily press conferences, Biden was holed up( like the rest of us ), wearing a dark suit( unlike any of us ), staring cautiously into a computer camera( like the rest of us ), slotted bizarrely behind a podium( unlike … anyone ?).
And now, while the president and governors are out there being relevant, Joe Biden is( like the rest of us) desperately trying to promote a podcast.
At first glance, this seems a sad, if regrettable, developed for a guy who has been through so much and was apparently on the verge of parlaying his time into a move. But I’m starting to think that it might work out for him.
Initially, I thought social distancing would be politically salutary for Biden, and not just for the obvious reason that after the” rally around the flag” impression wears off, chairpeople are generally blamed for what happens on their watch, specially when their lack of experience or competence should contribute to a botched response and lots of people die. A quarantine, I supposed, would allow Biden to run a sort of front-porch campaign where he could present a highly ” curated”( spoke more coherent and robust) and choreographed likenes.
That theory previous a daytime or so. After that, I started to notice that Biden was becoming an afterthought. I became consider that he simply had to find ways to be in the news round every day. He could flow shadow instructions! He could words a darknes authority with a dark Dr. Fauci and a shadow Dr. Birx. He could wear his own” disaster casual” dres. He( kind of) tried some explanation of that. But where reference is faltered, it struck me as really more confirmation that” sleepy-eyed Joe” had “lost a step” and wasn’t capitalizing on the moment.
And then, it punched me. Joe Biden should social interval even more. He should wane into the background like Homer Simpson backing into the shrubs, exclusively to reemerge browned and rested after Labor Day.( As Andrew Card said, &# x27 ;&# x27; You don &# x27; t acquaint brand-new produces in August .”) He should hug The 4-Hour Work Week.
Now, I know that this thought process seems foolish. It has become axiomatic you should never pass up a chance to have sex or be on TV. It is increasingly becoming political profundity that you admit good-for-nothing. That you hustle. That( as Al Pacino might scream during a particularly motivational half-time speech ),” We can engage our path back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch at a time !” There is insight in that. But sometimes, like the bamboo, it’s wiser to go with the flow.
Yes, this theory of passive resistance leads against our human snobberies, which push us to believe that, by virtue of our efforts–our work–we have some appearance of dominance over our own fate. Like Boxer in Animal Farm , we want to believe that all our problems will be solved if we just work harder. What is more, it contradicts an assumption, which suggests media personalities and political leaders gain public support( and tending) by virtue of accretion and revelation. Like lifting forces to get stronger, we think that to become popular means you must put in the daily work and gradually amplification a fanbase.
But is this true?
Citing a decades-old observation called the Feiler faster thesis, my former peer Mickey Kaus recently quarrelled that information hertzs have sped up and that humans can treat info quicker than most people realize.” Biden can wait until September, or whenever the conventions are, and then, he can gin up a huge publicity’ Biden for chairman’ expedition ,” Kaus said.” He doesn’t have to be omnipresent in our attention now in order to do that, then .”
This reminds me of an old story. Heading into the 1968 Republican primary contest, Richard Nixon announced a six-month moratorium from politics. In 2014, former Nixon aide Pat Buchanan described it to me as an” need meets the heart grow fonder” approaching. Interestingly, the committee is also had the effect of overexposing Nixon’s antagonist, George Romney. When a skeptical Buchanan questioned Nixon on the prudence of this disappearing act, Nixon admonished:” Let[ the media] chew on[ Romney] for a little while .”
Kaus’s thought therefore seems that the Nixon example might now work in a general election. And in a macrocosm where conventional wisdom and historical precedent all seem so passe, he may well be correct. Certainly, the media aren’t averse to chewing on Trump. To be sure, a primary isn’t a general election–and George Romney ain’t Donald J. Trump. But the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder strategy is probably underrated and, principally, untried. So why not try it?
It is, perhaps, sardonic, but the Chinese motto about “crisis” also conveying “opportunity” seems apropos. Laying low-toned may be Joe Biden’s best strategy–and it’s one that wouldn’t be possible were it not for social distancing.
My best admonition for Joe may be this: Don’t time got something, stand there!