Everyone is in denial about November

All of these stories are interesting but nonetheless contain an air of unreality about them. They assume that the Trump campaign’s gambits can somehow alter the trajectory of the general-election campaign. The thing is, Biden is going to have a pretty easy rejoinder to Trump about being soft on China. Furthermore, as Martin and Haberman note in their story, “Eager to continue trade talks, uneasy about further rattling the markets and hungry to protect his relationship with President Xi Jinping … Mr. Trump has repeatedly muddied Republican efforts to fault China.”

Biden’s tactical response is not the important thing, however. The important thing is that campaign tactics are meaningless when the administration has bungled its pandemic response and the economy is cratering. As noted in this space last week, Trump is starting the fourth quarter of the campaign behind and with a lousy field position. Biden is beating him in the polls. Democrats have united behind their candidate. Trump cannot campaign on the economy. Attacking Biden on China is like trying to bail out the Titanic with a toy bucket.

Furthermore, spending two hours a day at a podium does not help Trump. His antics might appeal to his base, but there’s a reason other Republicans want him to cut down his appearances. They put all of his weaknesses on display. And for those who fear that this crowds out Biden, let me suggest that at this point in the race, the more Biden appears in the public mind as “Generic Democrat,” the better his chances for victory as the safer “not Trump” choice.

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