Matt, I don’t agree with you at all here. I genuinely hope to begin to persuade you — right now, in this post — that there is no comparison whatsoever between these 2 men, in terms of character and political ability.
Trump’s election was largely an historical fluke. It took a “perfect storm” combination of underlying, contextual, and campaign incidents for Trump to win. It wasn’t one thing, it was many. I won’t here detail the dozen or more factors. Suffice it to say that Trump’s accession to the American presidency through the electoral college was a world historical mistake — repeat: World Historical Mistake — of enormous consequences, both for Americans and people nearly the world over. Those consequences are now magnified by his total incompetence to deal with the pandemic.
Among other things — the list below is nowhere near complete — Trump is:
1. A sociopath. This is the single most important thing to understand about him. Not quite more important than all his other truly despicable characteristics combined, but the most important single thing. He is incapable of normal human empathy. He is incapable of admitting error. He is incapable of accepting responsibility. He lacks a conscience, and thus cannot feel guilt, shame, or remorse. He has an insatiable need to dominate others. He is delusional.
2. An extreme narcissist, totally self-absorbed and self-obsessed. Every waking minute of every day.
3. A pathological liar. He lies outrageously and matter-of-factly, every day.
4. Uninformed, lazy, and utterly uninterested in becoming informed about our Constitution, laws, political system. He does not read, will not read even pared-down papers on essential matters. He is not interested in learning about much of anything.
5. A scofflaw. He does not believe in the western world’s classical liberal (and therefore practically conservative) tradition of the rule of law. He knows absolutely nothing of this tradition.
6. A cheat. He has cheated people — banks, associates, workers — all his adult life. As a failed businessman — with a “reality TV” reputation as a brilliantly successful businessman — he has defaulted on loans over and over and over. He was “mentored” as a rising young man in New York by a vicious mob-thug named Roy Cohn (who was 2 decades earlier Joe McCarthy’s right-hand man). A couple of years ago Trump famously moaned, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He has found his modern Roy Cohn in none other than his Attorney General, William Barr. We now witness the astounding spectacle of the chief law enforcement officer of the US acting as a cultural warrior/mob-enforcer for a man who has neither understanding of nor respect for the law.
7. A racist. Trump was a leading proponent of “Birtherism,” re Obama’s place of birth. He offers up “dog whistles” regularly, the latest of which is his planned rally on June 19 in Tulsa. Both that date and that place resonate with powerful racial memories. For good reason, racists around the world think he’s one of them.
8. A fascist. He ran a fascist-themed campaign in 2016. Including: great nation in historical decline, national humiliation, fear of insidious Others (e.g., immigrants, Muslims), national rebirth project led by a strongman-leader. For good reason, fascists and neo-Nazis think he’s one of them.
9. An incompetent phony. He wants to play being the President. After more than 3 years in office, he has little idea of what leading entails.
10. An emotional toddler. We already know this from several inside accounts of his presidency. (Heck, we see it daily in his tweets.) We will learn more once he leaves office, in multiple forthcoming accounts of how multitudes of White House staff tried to anticipate and mollify his daily tantrums.
11. The list goes on and on.....
By contrast, Joe Biden. Biden is neither spineless nor inept. His greatest flaw is not a matter of character, but of personality. He’s sometimes an embarrassing “foot-in-motor-mouth,” unable to shut up. His gaffes are many. He screws up, says dumb, awkward things. Famously, or if you prefer, infamously so.
But he’s knowledgeable, competent, fair-minded, personable, empathic, genuinely warm-hearted.
To be clear, I so wish he were not the Democratic nominee. His floundering campaign was rescued by a single, influential black leader from South Carolina, and then propelled, near miraculously, by black voters in that state’s primary. Biden lucked out because of our strange, front-loaded primary system. I think very few Democrats think he’s best equipped to defeat Trump. But we’re stuck with him.
His foot-in-motor-mouth makes him, occasionally, seem inept, but he’s actually been an often-effective Senator for decades, works easily with colleagues across most of the political spectrum, has few enemies. Few, if any, of them think him spineless.
Indeed, in terms of character, personality, knowledge, experience, competence, stability, and trustworthiness, one could hardly find a more thoroughgoing contrast to that cretinous slug, our calamitous World Historical Mistake.