The Noise? After Biden picked Kamala Harris as his running mate, Trump resorted to one of his favorite insults against female opponents: “nasty.”
What an extraordinarily worn soundtrack he’s falling back on.
In 2016, when Trump called Hillary Clinton “nasty,” he was an outsider, a mold-breaker, a shock-jock-style entertainer, an alt-right punk, and didn’t yet have the responsibilities that come with political power.
In 2020, Trump is president, the man who is, at least ostensibly, in charge of this country—the leader who is supposed to craft grand coalitions, alliances, and brain trusts to beat back a pandemic and bring economic relief to the tens of millions of families at risk of destitution in the face of Covid-19.
At a Wednesday afternoon campaign event with Biden, Harris issued a full-throttle call to conscience against the Trump administration. She used her prosecutorial skills to construct what sounded almost like the introduction to a legal case against this corrupt, nepotistic, incompetent, and cruel administration. It was succinct and powerful—and, I suspect, an opening shot in a campaign that will use Harris to brutal effect to concisely and clearly detail Trump’s failings.
It strikes me that calling Harris “nasty” will neither get under her skin nor scare off potential Biden-Harris voters.
Which brings me to the Signal: Trump isn’t just going to lob juvenile insults and then retreat. The insults may get the attention, but the actions behind the scenes will be far more consequential. He’s going to resort to every dirty trick under the sun in the next 11 weeks to retain his hold on power.
Hence his campaign’s ludicrous efforts to help Kanye West get on the ballot in swing states, in the hope that he will siphon votes away from Biden. Jared Kushner has met with the rap star, and the two reportedly talk frequently to discuss strategy.
Hence the ratcheting up of Trump’s rhetoric against voting by mail. He has recently threatened to withhold federal funds from states that make it easier to vote by mail, and on Thursday he openly admitted that he refused to sign off on desperately needed funding to shore up the US Postal Service because he knew it would inhibit voting by mail. Trump has even alleged that household pets are being sent ballots in a nefarious animal-Democrat alliance to rob him of power.
Hence Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr.’s recycling of Russian-troll-generated misinformation about alleged Bible-burning episodes among Portland protesters.
Hence Trump’s overtly racist appeals to “suburban housewives,” whom he believes can be scared into supporting him if he tells them often enough that Biden wants poor Blacks to move into their neighborhoods. He’s upped the ante by averring that Senator Cory Booker (yes, a Black man, horrors!) might be put in charge of these alleged efforts to eviscerate the suburbs.
Meanwhile, as Trump fiddles and faffs, Rome continues to burn. Last week marked the 20th week in a row that more than 1 million Americans filed new unemployment claims. Trump has no coherent anti-poverty strategy, and no ability or desire to force the GOP-led Senate to negotiate with House Democrats to forge a relief package. What he does have, in abundance, is animus.
In addition to the funding crisis afflicting the Postal Service, an even bigger funding crisis is about to swamp USCIS, the agency responsible for passport, visa, and naturalization services. At month’s end, absent an injection of cash that the Senate and White House are in no hurry to grant, the agency is going to have to furlough more than half of its staff. Analysts predict the entire immigration system will grind to a halt—which would suit Trump, Stephen Miller, and the other anti-immigration hard-liners in their orbit just fine.
Want to renew that passport? Prepare for a months-long wait. Want to get that visa processed so you can visit loved ones or arrive in time to start work at your new job? Don’t hold your breath. Want to naturalize in time to vote in the election? That’s almost certainly not going to happen.
Meanwhile, the administration is mulling something extraordinary even by its debased standards: It wants to allow border officials discretion to deny entry into the country to any US citizen who officials believe might have been exposed to Covid-19.
Not surprisingly, their efforts are reportedly focused on the border with Mexico. As a result, hundreds of thousands of US citizens who live south of the border could find themselves at the mercy of officers at ports of entry.
Don’t get distracted by all the Noise. With the election barely 80 days away, this administration is pushing the legal limits, looking for any and every way to sabotage the election, and any and every way to both constrict the rights of immigrants and weaken the protections afforded US citizens.