Trump is giving Biden all the ammunition to demolish him
Vowing to be a "dictator" destroying "vermin"--and Obamacare--Trump may be lulled by polling. That's at his own peril.
If there’s a silver lining to all of the melodramatically-hyped polling about President Biden’s approval, his age, and his chances against Trump, it’s this: Donald Trump is more cocky and confident than ever, saying the quiet part out loud and with 40,000-watt speakers. And major media outlets have rightly been amplifying it further, warning of fascism and dictatorship—to the point where some of those around Trump, including in his campaign, are becoming concerned.
They have good reason. That polling, as I’ve said over and over, is next to meaningless a year out, and many of the polls have problems inherent to them that we’ve discussed many times. The actual elections that have taken place, particularly since the destruction of Roe v. Wade, tell a far different story. Progressive Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg put it best to Thomas Edsall at the New York Times this week:
The last four presidential elections have gone 51 percent-46 percent Democratic, best run for Dems since F.D.R.’s elections….
…Our performance since Dobbs remains remarkable and important. In 2022 we gained in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania over 2020, getting to 59 percent in Colorado, 57 percent in Pennsylvania, 55 percent in Michigan, 54 percent in New Hampshire in that “red wave” year. This year we’ve won and outperformed across the country in every kind of election, essentially leaving this a blue wave year.
We got to 56 percent in the Wisconsin SCOTUS race, 57 percent in Ohio, flipped Colorado Springs and Jacksonville, flipped the Virginia House. Kentucky governor, Andrew Beshear, grew his margin. We won mayoralties and school board races across the United States. Elections are about winning and losing, and we keep winning, and they keep losing.
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I should point out that in a large chunk of these races, there was melodramatically-hyped polling—certainly in 2022—showing the opposite was going to happen. Sure, there are unique aspects to a presidential race and unique issues affecting Biden and Democrats right now.
But it’s hard to believe that the outlier election is going to be the one in which the self-proclaimed “dictator” who already lost re-election is going to get many of those people who voted against him to suddenly vote for him—with Roe v. Wade now overturned, directly due to his presidency—or to just stay home, not worried about the threat to democracy or the right to their own bodies.
I realize nothing is completely out of the realm of possibility, so anything could happen, and none of us should rest. And yes, many people, including young people, appear angered about specific policies or are unenthused and are expressing that right now. But when it comes down to it, as in the past, it’s more than likely they will again focus on the stakes.
Trump, of course, revels in polling and promotes it fervently—when it favors him. He’s a narcissist who is intoxicated by the loyalty of his base. So we know he deeply believes in these polls and believes in their longevity, and that makes him believe he can say or do anything.
And right now, he’s saying more extreme things and vowing more extreme actions than ever. Much of this is born out of desperation, as he has no choice in his mind but to win the election or else he’s going to prison, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago. And he believes, because his base and the polling tell him, that the more extreme he is, the greater his chances are of winning.
But that has proven to be false in every election since 2016. With his extremist rhetoric and actions he caused a massive blue wave for Democrats in 2018, caused Republicans to lose governors’ races in red states like Louisiana and Kentucky, lost his own re-election in 2020, and halted a red wave for the GOP in 2022.
Now Democrats and the Biden campaign are homing in on Trump’s fascistic statements and the plans that he and his advisors have laid out, while the media is finally covering it within the context it deserves—as a turn to complete fascism. I’ve written a lot about the changes we’ve seen in much of the corporate media in recent weeks. There’s much more work to be done, but they are finally listening to criticism, and the “vermin” speech seems like it was a turning point for many journalists.
The New York Times, for example, has been revisiting Trump's statements and plans and the promotion of Project 2025, including this week, adding new context and facts, retelling the important aspects in a repetitive way that is necessary. We’ve seen the same with television networks, including broadcast networks that reach many more people than cable.
Every major media outlet has made the connections to Hitler and Mussolini, and, from the looks of it, they will continue to do so—particularly if we keep pressuring them. And the Biden campaign pounced on the “vermin” speech as it did weeks later when the cocky, impulsive Trump said he’d revisit stripping Obamacare.
That was a stupid blunder on the part of Trump, who wrote in a Truth Social post that he would once again move to get rid of health care for millions—apparently after reading a Wall Street Journal article that inaccurately reported on costs. In truth, the Affordable Care Act, less inexpensive under Biden because of bills he and Democrats passed, is more popular than ever—more than 60% of Americans support it, and now 40 million people have Obamacare as opposed to the 20 million when Trump tried to kill it during his presidency—and that includes in deep red states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare via ballot initiatives, like Missouri and Idaho.
But now Trump has forced GOP House and Senate members to have to revisit something they hoped was over—a battle they lost time and again and will never win now.
Then came Trump’s statement to Sean Hannity in a town hall this week on Fox in which Hannity was trying to help Trump not appear as a dictator, but Trump wasn’t having it and blurted out that he “will be a dictator on day one”—while claiming he wouldn’t be a dictator after that, which is pretty laughable.
The Biden campaign was given another gift. As Politico stated in a headline today, “Trump’s ‘dictator’ remark puts the 2024 campaign right where Biden wants it.” Per the report:
Donald Trump keeps returning the 2024 presidential race to the ground where Joe Biden wants to fight it.
After Trump told a Fox News town hall he would not be a dictator upon returning to office “other than Day One,” the Biden campaign pounced. It highlighted Trump’s remarks as another moment in which the GOP frontrunner showcased his undemocratic and dangerous plans for a possible second term.
...After Trump’s town hall comment, the Biden campaign flooded social media with warnings and organized an event to bracket the GOP primary debate in Alabama that would include denouncements of the former president.
“It’s coming back full circle—that in the president’s mind, this is the moral authority for the race. This is an existential threat. This is the reason he ran initially, and the reason—with Donald Trump running—he's running again,” Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster for Biden’s campaign in 2020, told Politico.
It’s not just Trump, either, who is loudly blaring what he will do. Many of his advisors, like the white supremacist Stephen Miller, who crafted Trump’ inhumane immigration policy during his presidency, have been telling the media, including the New York Times, about the giant camps they will create and the mass deportations.
This week, Kash Patel, Trump’s acting secretary of defense after Mark Esper resigned as Trump was trying to overturn the election after January 6th, went on Steve Bannon’s podcast. He said he will likely be the CIA director in a new Trump presidency, and that the government will be arresting Trump’s enemies and going after the media too. ABC News reported on it:
We will go out and find the conspirators, not just in government but in the media. We're going to come after you, whether it's criminally or civilly. We'll figure that out.
The influential publication The Atlantic, meanwhile, devoted its entire new issue to the threat of a Trump presidency. It’s not a mass circulation publication, but it is one that TV news producers, editors, and reporters in the rest of the media follow. And its editors wound up all over cable and broadcast TV this week, talking about the threat of Trump.
All of this has clearly and rightly worried some in Trump’s campaign and other people around him. While obviously Trump himself and those like Miller and Patel are blabbing big time, others are trying to do damage control. It doesn’t seem there’s much discipline—of course there never is with Trump himself, but it’s really stupid of Patel and Miller to be putting these fascistic policy plans out there.
Trump’s campaign has challenged both the New York Times and the Washington Post several times over their deep dives on Trump’s 2025 plans or on Trump’s comments. They’ve attempted to distance Trump from the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025—telling the Times the outside groups are offering “merely suggestions” and not something they’re committed to—though Trump and these other aides have embraced Project 2025’s plans in words and deeds.
One campaign aide comically criticized analogies to Hitler and Mussolini regarding the “vermin” speech by saying to the Washington Post, “[T]hose who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and their entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House."
And just the fact that Sean Hannity tried as hard as he could in the town hall this week to get Trump to say he wouldn’t be a dictator—and failed—showed how much the reporting on Trump’s fascist impulses and plans has pierced the Fox bubble, too, and is worrying people like Hannity, who know this is something Biden will use to completely clobber Trump.
During the town hall Hannity lamented the media coverage depicting Trump “as a dictator” and asked Trump, "Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?" Trump of course didn’t take the opportunity—and Hannity in fact gave him two opportunities—to unequivocally say it was hogwash and he would not be a dictator and supported democracy, and instead said he’d be “a dictator on day one.”
The fact that those around Trump, like Hannity, are worried—and can’t seem to help Trump—shows how potent these issues are for Democrats and Biden. Trump won’t be able to stop. And we should definitely not let up on amplifying what he is saying as President Biden gears up for the campaign, using the threat to forcefully beat back Trump.