McCain and Behar finally agree: Biden needs to get nasty with Trump

I don’t think McCain’s formally endorsed Uncle Joe yet, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, but the fist-bump she gives Behar here over the prospect of Biden street-fighting with POTUS might as well be an endorsement. A weird but true fact in light of recent history: Given that they each love Joe Biden and detest Trump more than they detest each other, Meg and Joy are more likely to spend the bulk of 2020 as fierce *allies* rather than as enemies.

The consensus on today’s panel is that Biden should fight but fight classy. Like … this, I guess?

“The single most important right you have as an American is the right to vote,” he told an audience in Columbia, South Carolina. “The right to vote. Folks, last year, 24 states introduced or enacted at least 70 bills to curtail the right to vote. And guess what? Mostly directed at, quote, people of color. You see it. We’ve got Jim Crow sneaking back in. No, I mean it.”

Nice old Uncle Joe is happy to engage in nuclear-grade racial demagoguery when black votes are on the line, and by no means does he reserve that tactic for the likes of Trump.

Anyway, as usual when partisans demand that their heroes “fight” more passionately, it’s left unclear what specifically they have in mind. Meg seems to embrace an “anything goes” approach: “You gotta play dirty to get dirty,” she says at one point, although her dad never fought particularly dirty with his political opponents. Even with Trump, I can’t recall him saying anything as cutting about POTUS as Trump said about him in questioning his war heroism. So what does she mean? Does she want Biden to bring up the Stormy Daniels matter and call Trump an adulterous sleazebag? A draft dodger because he didn’t serve in Vietnam? A racist — which he’s already sort of done by referencing Charlottesville in the clip that launched his campaign? A Putin stooge?

Would any of those attacks marginally increase Biden’s chances of winning? They’re all well-known criticisms, presumably long ago priced into Trump’s electoral stock.

But that’s probably the wrong way to think about this. When a partisan says of their political leader, “I want him to fight,” they’re not thinking about winning over swing voters. They’re thinking about themselves and wanting to know that their leadership hates the other side as much as they do. McCain and Behar aren’t demanding “counterpunching” because they think it’s the key to the Rust Belt or anything, they’re demanding it because they loathe Trump viscerally and it would gratify them to see it happen. They want the bully to get punched in the face. And if Biden does it, and does it effectively, that may turn out more voters *on his own side.* Swing voters won’t care, but it ain’t just swing voters who decide an election, is it?