When the Bidexit?

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

We have reached a strange impasse in the campaign in which weakness is seen as strength. The fact that Biden is cognitively impaired and hiding in his basement in virtual incommunicado is now seen as a valuable strategy, given that Trump is dealing with the virus, lockdowns, the economy, and a pandemic of lawlessness and chaos — and  down in the polls.

So Biden shows no sign of moving out, and we should expect that as long as he thinks — correctly for now — that it’s a winning strategy, he will offer no detailed agenda other than as the virtual non-Trump. His surrogates will begin a campaign to end the idea of debates. Mail-in balloting will become a test of whether or not one is a racist. A virtual Zoom candidacy is not an impossibility.

Biden seems to concede that to venture out is synonymous with illustrations of his own cognitive impairment. What might prompt his return to the aether?

One, if Trump’s aggregate polls inched back up from 42 or so to where they are usually after recovering from serial melodramas (Mueller, Ukraine, impeachment, COVID, lockdown, etc.) at around 45­47 approval, then at that point, Biden would move.

But to recover as he has in the past, Trump will have to end the current cultural revolution, by its traditional antidotes despite blue-state opposition and with no support from the Pentagon if the violence escalates: 1) Emasculate its Jacobin apparat by hundreds of indictments, reassert federal control of national parks and monuments, threaten states that deliberately do not enforce federal laws with a cut-off of federal funds, and file writs to protect the civil rights of those businesses and individuals threatened;

and 2) show the public that there will be a successful and concerted counterrevolution to name changing, statue toppling, canceling, doxxing, and police defunding, in other words reassure the people that the revolutionaries are going to lose and those engaged in criminal activities will rue it. The best way to convey all this is a sort of national-security task force analogous to the COVID-19 briefings, in which the president, Attorney General Barr, Homeland Security head Wolf, and National-Security Adviser O’Brien daily and briefly review federal indictments, efforts, and challenges; entertain brief questions; and inform the public of strategies and policies to come.

Trump also could issue a comprehensive second-term agenda that forces Biden to offer a counter-proposal: 300 more constructionist justices, 500 more miles of a border-security wall to enhance the 400-plus miles scheduled for completion at year’s end, a comprehensive plan to incentivize the return of critical U.S. medical supplies and drug manufacturing from China, in conjunction with a second-phase of re-industrialization, a comprehensive plan to address higher education (the font of the cultural revolution), whether having colleges assume the moral hazard of guaranteeing their own student loans, taxing endowments of, say, over $1 billion, and having a national exit test to certify basic competency upon graduation.

Meanwhile, as the viral death toll and fatality rate of the infected wane, the lockdown leaks, the recovery continues, a Durham reckoning follows, and the cultural revolution is extinguished, Biden most certainly will venture out — and that Bidexit will be one of the most interesting developments in recent election history.

 

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.