By Larry Levine –
“Trump’s approval is up and (Vice President Joe) Biden is sinking like a rock.” So wrote a Biden for President supporter in a comment on a Facebook page this week.
“Joe Biden is Wasting a Crisis” That was the headline on an opinion piece in The New Republic this week.
From The Guardian: “Where is Joe: Biden Campaign Tries to Stay Relevant”
Slate: “His (Biden’s) disappearance, it’s said, has allowed Donald Trump to dominate the crisis narrative and somehow possibly to put himself in a position to win an election by belatedly semi-fixing a problem he created himself.”
Some of this is driven by well-intentioned concern that Trump might be re-elected. Some by nervousness. And some by the simple need to generate content for print and cable space.
To all of you, I have a simple message: EGBOK. Yes, EGBOK, a phrase coined by two Los Angeles talk radio hosts in the 1980s. EGBOK: Everything’s Gonna Be OK.
The worst thing Biden could do now would appear to be politicizing this situation. The non-religious part of The Serenity Prayer is his best friend: the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
There are times in electoral politics when the best thing to do is let the other side keep digging. Hand them a shovel if you have a chance. But don’t get in the way.
In the situation at hand, all you could accomplish by jumping into the fray is to be dismissed as “just another politician.” To be accused of “politics and usual” and trying to “capitalize on a national crisis” would be it’s own kind of political disaster and run counter to the public perception of candidate Biden.
So, while you are anxiously wringing your hands, ask yourself what it is you would have Biden do? He doesn’t need to criticize Trump more than he already is. The media is doing that all day, every day. He doesn’t poses some magic potion to cure the disease or prevent it. He can’t go out into the world and “be Joe” by interacting with the ill and the families of the dead or to show support for the nurses, doctors and others on the frontlines. And the legislative arena is being directed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and to the extend that he can minority leader Chuck Schumer.
At the same time, the wiser political minds around Trump can’t be happy with what’s happening, much of it coming right out of their guy’s own mouth and being preserved to reappear in TV commercials this fall. The nation has been taught that we are in this fix largely because of Trump’s early denial of the problem and the fix is getting worse because of the persistent leadership vacuum at the top. Day by day, his mismanagement and braggadocio play out in the news in ways that defy logic and in the case of anyone other than Donald Trump would defy belief.
Sure, there are those who think he is doing a good job. They will never shrink in their support for him. So what? You don’t need all the votes to win an election just the most votes, or the most electoral college votes. And that’s the path the Biden campaign remains on today.
Biden is ahead in the polls in every one of the key states that will decide the November election. Trump got a “leadership bounce” in polls but it was not as large as the bounce other presidents got in a crisis. It wasn’t enough to overtake Biden in head-to-head polls nationally or in any key state. It didn’t last long and his overall job approval ratings didn’t improve.
“Wasting a crisis”? The cynicism of that headline is the very reason why Biden should be seen as doing what is best and most responsible now. Be seen as taking advantage of a crisis and the public will abandon you in an instant. Many see Trump’s interference in the daily coronavirus briefings as just that. In the meantime governors across the nation, including some Republican governors, are making the case that Trump is incompetent and has abandoned the people in time of need.
Those in the media who shout of trouble in the Biden campaign because of the way he is handling the current crisis and those among his supporters who fret over what they see as a strategic error should remember these headlines from the not too distant past.
CNN (Feb. 5) – “Joe Biden may be in more trouble than you think”
Time (Feb. 13) – “Joe Biden Says It’s Not Time to Panic. But His Campaign is in Trouble”
Fivethirtyeight.com (Feb. 27) – “Could Joe Biden be in Trouble in South Carolina?”
Remember, a lot of the current speculation stems from the fact that pundits are being paid a lot of money to comment and analyze. Silence is not an option.
As for concerns about the Biden strategy, it’s not a strategy anyone would have chosen. It’s the cards he was dealt. He’s playing them well and he’s ahead. So, remember you Biden backers: EGBOK.