Via Mediaite, we should seize this opportunity to game out how a Biden presidency might be delegtimized by the right if he succeeds in knocking off Trump next year. It’s a cinch to happen, since it’s happened with every president dating back to Bush 41. Clinton didn’t win a majority of the popular vote; Dubya lost the popular vote, then got reelected thanks to Diebold!!1!; Obama wasn’t a natural-born citizen; Trump lost the popular vote and had help from Putin (and James Comey). Those are the narratives, never mind that there’s no evidence that John Podesta’s emails or the Kremlin’s Facebook ads moved votes in meaningful numbers, certainly no evidence that Russia rigged the vote totals, and no charges pending against Trump or anyone else involving a conspiracy with Russia after two years of investigation. There’ll be a narrative for President Biden too. What’s it most likely to be?
Something cobbled together from his son’s business in Ukraine, maybe? If not, a conspiracy theory about millions of illegal aliens voting will do. He’ll have to be delegitimized somehow, as that’s the only way activists on either side can cope mentally anymore with the reality of their party losing a national election.
This is the second time in 10 days that a very high-ranking cabinet member in the Obama administration has questioned Trump’s right to hold the office that he holds. Hillary Clinton did it last week. Previously James Clapper had suggested that Russia’s interference was decisive while acknowledging that he had no empirical reason to believe that, and of course John Brennan has accused Trump of outright treason. Meanwhile, Stacey Abrams has convinced the entirety of the Democratic Party that she’s the rightful winner of Georgia’s gubernatorial race last year, with no one daring to contradict her and risk being accused of callousness towards voter suppression. The media routinely beats on Trump for his forays into conspiracy theorizing, from questioning Obama’s birth certificate to claiming during the campaign that the system was rigged for a Clinton win to blaming her popular-vote victory afterwards on the illegal-immigrant vote. He’s undermining the legitimacy of our institutions, we’re told, with reason. Now here’s the other party in the person of Obama’s former VP essentially claiming that he’s exercising power illegally, with hardly a peep of objection.
I flagged this last week in a post about Abrams but it’s worth noting the numbers again:
67 percent of Democrats believe it is "definitely true" or "probably true" that "Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected." There is no evidence of Russia tampering with vote tallies. pic.twitter.com/mgSx3MEtnQ
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) November 18, 2018
How far does election trutherism among Democrats need to spread before this starts “undermining our institutions” too? Is the current Democratic frontrunner far enough?
Trump’s alleged illegitimacy isn’t the only subject about which Biden was confused today. I can’t believe that he really might believe this:
Presidential hopeful Joe Biden said Tuesday he believes Republicans will have an “epiphany” and be more willing to work with Democrats when President Trump leaves office.
“I just think there is a way, and the thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House — not a joke — you will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends,” the former vice president said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, adding that the GOP feels “intimidated” by Trump.
“If we can’t change, we’re in trouble. This nation cannot function without generating consensus. It can’t do it,” he continued, according to several media outlets.
He’s getting creamed on social media by progressives for that comment, and rightly so. Obama used to say, naively, during his first term that he thought the “fever” of Republican opposition to him would break once he was reelected. They couldn’t refuse to deal with him forever! Within a few years Republicans were in total charge of Congress and he was signing dubious executive amnesties into law because he couldn’t get anything done legislatively. Even now, some Democrats might be inclined to agree with Biden in the belief that GOP obstinacy towards Obama was racially driven, a condition that wouldn’t obtain if Uncle Joe were president. But of course they’re wrong: In a party like the GOP that now lacks any dominant governing philosophy beyond “whatever Trump wants to do today,” negative partisanship will fill the vacuum. And the core of negative partisanship is defeating the aims of a president from the other party. That may be even stronger with Biden in office than with Obama there, in fact, since (a) Biden will have committed the mortal sin of ending Trump’s populist revolution and (b) a post-Trump GOP will be completely without ideological direction. “STOP BIDEN” might be the only thing holding the party together.
Benjy Sarlin makes a fair point too. Even if the GOP establishment regained control over the party after Trump’s defeat, that might make them less likely to compromise with Democrats, not more. It’s a strange irony of the Trump era that he has a greater willingness and ability to strike grand compromises with the left than many of his Republican predecessors. Republicans since Reagan have been *a little bit* constrained by concerns about federal spending, but not Trump. He can throw however much money he likes at a problem and the populist right will roll over for belly rubs. He’s not constrained by ideology either: Trump is no dogmatist about limiting the proper roles of government, to put it mildly. If he fades from the scene and suddenly Mitch McConnell is the most powerful Republican in Washington again, the new Democratic president will meet more resistance from the GOP on expanding government than Pelosi and Schumer would meet now from Trump. (They recently agreed to a $2 trillion infrastructure outline with him, did they not?) Biden’s actually guilty of a Trumpian misconception here, believing that his good personal relationships with Republican senators will lead to productive deals. Tain’t necessarily so, especially with Republicans eager to use the new Democratic administration as an excuse to reestablish what’s left of their credibility as, ahem, “fiscal conservatives.”
Exit question: Does Obama think Trump is an “illegitimate” president? Someone in the media class who’s concerned with Trump eroding the legitimacy of institutions should ask him.