Fox News has a fever and the only prescription is ... Joe Biden?

Maybe Trump’s right.

Maybe Fox is Antifa now.

It wasn’t a surprise that the newsier side of the network thought last night’s acceptance speech was a hit:


It’s a little more surprising that the opinion side gave him his props:

Then again, what choice did Ingraham have? Like Wallace says, Trump’s campaign foolishly spent months lowering the bar for Biden by suggesting that his brain had turned to oatmeal when in reality it’s still … mostly non-oatmeal. No doubt there were casual voters who tuned in last night to see if what they’ve heard about him showing signs of cognitive decline is true. What impression do you think they came away with about the truth or falsity of that allegation?

The jury will remain out on his acuity until after the debates, but he helped himself last night. At this point Team Trump can either dial back the senility attacks on Biden to try to raise the bar before he gets onstage with Trump or, I guess, they can go all-in:


Go all-in and the bar will be on the floor on debate night. Biden would literally have to start asking the moderators what year it is to blow it.

Even so, I’m not convinced that the convention was a net gain for him. The last four days have been shockingly light on policy, which is consistent with the Democrats’ strategy all year but which leaves them exposed to a GOP offensive next week. From the start of the campaign, the Dems have wanted to turn this election into a referendum on Trump, not a choice between their vision for the country and his. He’s historically unpopular, never once polling above 50 percent job approval in RCP’s average, and he’s currently overseeing a six-figure pandemic death toll and an economic catastrophe. If you’re the opposition party in circumstances like that, your pitch is obvious: Elect us, we’re not the other guy. Factor in the special threat from a Trump second term and Democrats are content to ride voters’ antipathy to him all the way to Election Day. They have the perfect nominee for it too, one of the most generic members of the Democratic establishment, whose most noteworthy attribute is his ability to muster empathy for others. Even better, steering away from policy specifics helps smooth over the rift between progressives and neoliberals about the direction of the party, for now.


I doubt we’ve ever had an election where the challenger’s argument boiled down more clearly and simply to “Elect me, I’m not the other guy.” I mean, really:

“Here and now I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst,” the former vice president said from a crowd-free convention center in Delaware. “I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.”

The former vice president laid out a series of contrasts with Trump, vowing that “while I’ll be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I’ll work hard for those who didn’t support me, as hard for them as I did for those who did vote for me.”

He added: “That’s the job of a president, to represent all of us, not just our base or our party.”

I am good and he is evil, I will unite you while he tries to divide you. Is that enough for swing voters? Many Americans approach elections by asking the question, “What are you offering me, specifically?”, which is why the state of the economy almost always ranks as voters’ top priority.

What is Biden offering them, specifically? If you follow politics closely, if you worry about Trump’s conspiratorial mindset and authoritarian impulses about delaying the election, etc, then Biden’s offering you something: “I’m not Trump.” But what if you don’t follow politics or Trump’s day-to-day antics closely? What if you’re more worried about crime, or the feds taking a wrecking ball to your paycheck to fund new programs? Matthew Walther calls this week’s convention a “eulogy” for Biden in the sense that it was almost entirely focused on what a swell guy he is, to contrast him with Trump, rather than specifying what he plans to do for Americans:


Over and over again we were told about how Biden always calls, how he holds your hand, how that one time he said something that made you feel really good about yourself, how he remembers your name and buys you a cup of coffee for the train ride back, how he loves his children and grandchildren. I have previously described the last four days of the DNC as “funereal.” This was not accidental. The things former colleagues and opponents from the Democratic primaries have said about this year’s nominee were what one expects to hear at a wake. Biden’s flashes of anger during his own remarks might briefly have conveyed a sense of urgency and vitality. But the unmistakable impression made by the proceedings was one of impending death.

The rhetorical value of these obsequies is very much an open question. It is not clear to me that the current president’s supporters voted for him in 2016 because they thought he was a nice man or because they were hoping that one day he would tell them something that made their days better. In fact, it is the total absence of these qualities, Trump’s almost pathological inability to say something that is not either hyperbolic praise of himself and his accomplishments or a mean-spirited insult, that has endeared him to half the country.

Biden’s been in politics at the highest levels for nearly 50 years, notes Walther. How is it that we heard so little about his long, long, long record? Is it because Democrats were ashamed of too many parts of it to tout it, or is it because the more they focus on what Biden believes, the more it complicates their strategy to make the election a pure referendum on Trump?


Matthew Continetti calls it the “sleight-of-hand convention.” Watch the Democrats’ policy program vanish before your very eyes:

I watched all of the convention, and the word “China” was not uttered until 10:57 p.m. on Thursday. Nor did any of the Democrats mention the violence that has erupted in America’s cities after the protests against the killing of George Floyd. Biden talked about jobs, but the American worker made only guest appearances in the four days of programming.

If you are a Hispanic contractor or an Obama-Trump voter in the Midwest, was any of this convention relevant to you? No doubt Biden’s speech was affecting. But the Democrats were awfully vague about what they plan to do if they find themselves in power next year. Time and again, Americans have elected Democratic governments only to find themselves shocked and appalled two years later. The Democrats campaign as a worker’s party, but govern as a Bobo one. It happened to Bill Clinton. It happened to Obama. Is there any reason to think a Biden presidency will be different?

There’s an irony here. Because of the intense cult of personality that surrounds Trump, typically it’s the GOP that’s written off as being too focused on the persona of its leader and not focused enough on a policy program. It’s the Democrats, supposedly, who are the party of ideas — Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, gun regulation, amnesty for illegal immigrants, on and on. The Dems’ “referendum” strategy has flipped the script, though. Their core pitch to voters this years is to elect Biden because of his persona. And the GOP is likely to counter at next week’s convention with … not a policy program, exactly, but a laundry list of bona fide threats to voters that were glossed over by the DNC. We face an economic and geopolitical threat from China. Murder rates are rising and lefty radicals continue to run wild in Portland, months after unrest there began. Big Tech increasingly seems to have a monopoly of the information Americans consume. We’ve amassed an enormous amount of debt over the past six months and will need a solution to it after the pandemic abates. And of course we need a plan to help laid-off Americans get back on their feet once “normalcy” resumes.


That list is enormously complicated for Republicans by the fact that each of those threats has grown *during Trump’s presidency*, raising the question of why we should give him another term. But some voters may overlook that and reason, “At least the GOP is talking about the problems we face, not what a sweet old guy their nominee is.” Remember, the entire point of Biden’s campaign is that he’s planning to take us back to the less chaotic golden age of 2015. 2015 was so un-golden for so many people that the country ended up electing a game-show host president the following year.

We’ll see whether Biden or Trump ends up with the bigger convention bounce. I’ll leave you with this:

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