Rogan is a Bernie fan, famously. Reportedly it was Team Sanders’s willingness to accept Rogan’s endorsement that drove a wedge between AOC and the campaign some months ago.
Even so, he may be right about Trump “eating Biden alive.” The scenes lately from Joe’s Andy-Rooney-ish coronavirus bunker do not inspire confidence. And Biden has two problems that are likely to persist for weeks or months:
The first is how can he actually do any events outside of his basement that will get attention and coverage? The second is what can he say about Trump now? This is a new problem for Democrats. Ever since he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015 to announce his campaign, there has been absolutely no hesitation by any Democrat to attack Trump. Sometimes in the primaries this year candidates would make a point of emphasizing that they were more interested in explaining their policies rather than ripping into the president. But that’s only because there was a shared understanding between voters and Democratic candidates that Trump was irredeemable in every way.
Now, for the first time, some Democrats are wondering whether there could be a cost to pillorying the president.
“Biden has a thin line,” the outside adviser to Biden said. “As much as I dislike Trump and think what a bad job he’s doing, there’s a danger now that attacking him can backfire on you if you get too far out there. I don’t think the public wants to hear criticism of Trump right now.”
What Democrats need is a nominee who’s out in front of the public every day and has moral license to lay into the commander-in-chief in the middle of a national crisis. A guy like…
Some Democrats are openly talking up New York governor Andrew Cuomo, whose profile has soared during the crisis, as a Biden stand-in. Yesterday, a Draft Cuomo 2020 account on Twitter announced that “Times have changed & we need Gov. Cuomo to be the nominee. Our next POTUS must be one w/an ability to lead thru this crisis.”
Charles Pierce, the politics blogger for Esquire magazine, wrote a piece headlined “With Two Words, Andrew Cuomo Established Himself as the Leader This Country Needs Now.” He enthused that Cuomo’s news conference last Friday “essentially (shutting) down the economy of his state . . . was a master class in leveling with the public.”
If I were Biden, I’d appoint a “shadow cabinet” early. That would serve two purposes. First, it’d extend his media reach by deputizing knowledgeable surrogates who could fan out and saturate media outlets. I’m thinking of the video he posted a few days ago featuring Obama’s “Ebola czar,” Ron Klain, explaining the coronavirus crisis. If Biden said publicly that he’ll nominate Klain to lead a new pandemic response agency, the press would have a news hook to put Klain on TV as often as they want to criticize the latest failings of the Trump administration on managing COVID-19. The smarter Klain sounds in diagnosing problems in Team Trump’s response, the more reason viewers would have to hand the reins to Biden in November.
The other virtue of a “shadow cabinet” is that it would signal to voters that Biden will be something of a figurehead as president. “Don’t think of your vote for me this fall a vote for me,” he’ll say (implicitly). “Think of it as a vote for a very capable team of people with years of experience in their fields, who’ll run rings around the amateurs that have botched the Trump administration’s attempt at mitigating coronavirus.” Rogan’s right that Biden is destined to have plenty of “huh?” moments in interviews over the next seven months. Those moments are potential dealbreakers for voters if they come away concluding that he’s senile and can’t be trusted with the job. If the choice is between a semi-coherent Trump and a mostly incoherent Biden, they’ll go with semi-coherent. If, however, the choice is between “Trump’s incompetent team” and “Biden’s very competent team,” Biden can win that. He should make his campaign a “team” effort right now. The better his shadow cabinet sounds in interviews, the less voters will care if/when Biden can’t remember his own name.
Having said that, I think it’s risky for Republicans to keep hyping Biden’s mental deterioration. He’s survived multiple Democratic debates, including a one-on-one with Bernie, and hasn’t said anything so disjointed as to prevent him from running away with the nomination. Democratic voters clearly want to beat Trump so badly that they’re willing to nominate Joe, senility or no senility, as the most familiar “electable” option. If Biden sounds coherent in the debates this fall, when swing voters finally start paying attention, the entire narrative that he’s lost a step could deflate. The lower GOPers set the bar, the easier it is for Biden to clear it.
And let’s be real. Biden’s not the guy who said last night he had a “feeling” we don’t need 40,000 ventilators, only to turn around this morning and start screaming at GM about where his 40,000 ventilators are. Democrats will have tons of ammo this fall about how “erratic” Trump is too. Will voters care more about Biden’s verbal gaffes or Trump urging Pence not to talk to the governors of Washington and Michigan are about desperately needed coronavirus supplies because they’re not appreciative?
Trump characterizes Gov. Whitmer as “the woman in Michigan” and says that he’s urged Pence not to call her pic.twitter.com/YoJRW7wCWH
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 27, 2020
Here’s Rogan. There’s some profanity in the clip.
Joe Rogan on Joe Biden: “Trump is going to eat him alive. He’s going to eat that guy alive. The guy can barely remember what he’s talking about while he’s talking. … His skin is all pulled tight like a lizard.” https://t.co/FybJds8Oz6
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) March 27, 2020