Submitted by George Callaghan…
With 12 weeks to go the poll of polls shows Biden 9% ahead of Trump. Therefore, the likelihood is that Biden will win.
It is worth asking what would Biden do?
Biden has pledged to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran so long as the Iranians destroy their enriched uranium. The Iranian economy is cracking under the strain of renewed sanctions. They would probably jump at this chance to have sanctions lifted. They abided by JCPOA with scrupulosity as Trump himself twice certified and as the UN verified.
The US would avoid military action against Iran. As there would be a détente in the Persian Gulf and Iranian oil would be on the market this would lead to a drop in oil prices. That is good news for the US economy.
The United States would also be able to pivot militarily to other theatres.
US policy towards Russia would become more assertive. Joe Biden is a stalwart opponent of Russian policy in Ukraine. The United States would arm, fund and train the Ukrainian Army more than it is today. Ditto Georgia. Biden has an especial interest in Ukraine since his son Hunter worked there.
NATO would breathe a sight of relief. Biden is invested in NATO.
The CIA, FBI and NSA would welcome Biden’s election. Trump and his acolytes have spent a few years disparaging the intelligence community and publicly disbelieving whatever it says if this does not suit Trump’s agenda.
Biden would be in two minds about Syria. Does he totally disengage? Or on the other hand does he see it as a new Afghanistan? He might see it as a bear trap for Russia. By arming the Free Syria Army he might see this as a way to drain Russia’s manpower and treasure. This would be a deeply cynical policy. It would be prolonging a conflict that the US has no intention of trying to win. Some of the arms would end up in the hands of ISIS or the Al Nusra Front.
Arming the Kurdish peshmergas would infuriate the Turks. The US is keen to win Turkey over and prevent rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow. The United States agrees with Turkey on Libya. Therefore, it would have to be the FSA and not the Kurds whom the US assists in Syria. The Kurds are reluctant to fight in Syria. They prefer to maintain their statelet in northern Iraq and to fight Turkey if they have to.
In Libya the Americans would be more supportive of the government. The Government of National Accord has military assistance from the Turks. The GNA includes the Muslim Brotherhood. Neighbouring Egypt finds this unacceptable.
The Libyan National Army (LNA) is an insurgent group that controls the eastern half of the country. LNA has the backing of Qatar, Jordan, Egypt and Russia. LNA is led by a Libyan-American named Khalifa Haftar whom Trump has spoken to and not condemned despite Haftar leading a revolt against a pro-US government.
Biden might pressurise Jordan and Egypt into withdrawing support from the LNA. Both are recipients of US aid. Washington DC might have to offer a sop to Cairo such as the expulsion of the Muslim Brotherhood from the Libyan Government.
Wagner Group is fighting alongside the LNA. Wagner is a Russian private military company. Is that not a euphemism for mercenaries? Moscow denies all knowledge of Wagner despite sending them warplanes. As Russia says that Wagner combatants are not Russian soldiers then Biden might consider them fair game. It is true that Wagner fighters are not officially current Russian soldiers. Most are veterans of the Russian Army. Some are other nationalities particularly Serbian.
The US has killed Wagners operative in Syria. The same might happen in Libya. Putin might be irate but Washington could remind him that he said these men were not his troops.
Any US president is keen to burnish his Zionist credentials. It would be hard to match Trump for oppressing the Palestinians. Biden would kowtow to Tel Aviv. He would not want to be outflanked in Zionism. If he de-escalated the Iran issue this would irk the Israelis. Therefore, he would throw them red meat on other issues. The US Embassy was shifted to Jerusalem. Biden would probably not move it back to Tel Aviv. That would risk Zionist wrath.
The Palestinian cause is now a forlorn hope. They have been abandoned by their Arab brothers. The Saudis have prioritised a war of aggression against Iran over helping the illegally occupied Palestinians. But as Biden is not minded to start a totally avoidable war then Riyadh would be disappointed.
Biden would probably not give the Saudis such an easy ride. If tensions with Iran reduce there is less need to keep on the right side of Saudi Arabia.
On the domestic front Biden wants to reduce carbon emissions. He has his environmental plan to reduce fossil fuel usage. It is modest. Some environmentalists are disappointed he is not doing more for ecology.
Biden will have his work cut out on the economy. It will take a herculean effort to recover from the coronavirus economic downturn. He will probably raise the debt ceiling again.
A Biden Administration would reduce deportations. It would protect Dreamers. Dreamers and illegals would be offered a path to citizenship. They are mostly Latinos. As the Democrats are giving them citizenship which party are they most likely to vote for? Such a move by the Democrats would not be entirely altruistic. They would be enfranchising millions of their supporters.
If Biden were president there would probably be no more federal executions for a while. They are very rare anyway. They do not play well to his base.
With a Democrat in the White House the military budget might be trimmed. The cuts his party propose are a few %. Republicans would kick up a stink and say that this imperils national security.
Joe Biden has thus far not repeated Obama’s promise to bring the detenus in Guantanamo Bay to the United States to stand trial. These men have been held prisoner for 19 years in a rhadamanthine regime without trial. This is a screaming outrage in any country that regards itself as a rechtstaat. The Republican Party in its hysterical cowardice refused to fund the trials of these men. As though a few dozen unarmed broken men in Supermax are an existential threat to the mightiest power on earth. On the other hand, a deranged child with an assault rifle could never harm anyone. That is what the GOP believes at any rate.
Vice-President Biden if he becomes commander in chief would likely dial down the rhetoric on Venezuela. An invasion of that land is unlikely on his watch.
Obama normalised relations with Cuba. If Biden is in the White House he would probably restore diplomatic relations and trade.
Biden would probably have to appoint a new supreme court justice. Ruth Bader Ginsberg has cancer for the second time. Even if she survives, she might not be well enough to continue to serve. Joe Biden would clearly appoint a liberal. This person would be very pro-abortion. That is a litmus test for liberalism.
Much of the foregoing depends on what happens in Congress. It looks like the Democrats will strengthen their control of the House of Representatives and will win back the Senate narrowly.
Some Democrats want to reformulate the Second Amendment, bring in a new Voting Rights Act and abolish the Electoral College. The first and the last of these would involve changing the constitution. This would require a two-thirds majority of both houses. That is not going to happen. It has not happened since 1969.
Biden could get some of his agenda through. Do not expect anything epic.
Joe Biden wants more affordable healthcare. But he is opposed to Medicare for all. He would probably go back to the system that Obama introduced. This is increasingly popular.
A Biden presidency might try to return NAFTA to what it was. He might seek to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The United States would probably re-join the Paris Deal. This would win Biden plaudits from every other country. He would get the auto industry to reintroduce fuel efficiency standards which it agreed to under Barak H Obama.
China policy would probably not be very different. China is a bad actor and Biden has no illusions about that.
North Korea’s morbidly obese tyrant would not have Biden fawning over him. Kim Jong On would continue to fulminate and try to extend the range of his nuclear missiles. There is no magic bullet to deal with the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. North Korea has played cat and mouse with the US for decades. There will be concessions from North Korea in return for aid and trade. After a couple of years Pyongyang will amp up the bellicosity and trade will be cut off. So the cycle continues. Containment is the best that can be done. All the while North Korea’s missiles get a longer range. But this cannot be resolved without a ground war. China might well come in on North Korea’s side.
The tax cuts for the superrich that Trump brought in would be reversed. The debt ceiling would probably have to be raised again. The Republican Party has been fiscally irresponsible in the extreme. So much for their fiscal conservatism.
There will be howls of outrage from plutocrats if they are made to pay a decent amount in tax. They can never be farctated. Such utter avarice is repellent.
If there is a President Biden he would probably apologise for slavery. The BLM is demanding it. Moreover, it would play well with African-Americans whom he views as a vote bank. This would lead to calls for compensation. Biden would probably set up a presidential commission to conduct a feasibility study and to present him with recommendations.
Who Biden picks as a running mate will be of the utmost import. Biden would be the oldest president ever. He is in reasonable shape for a man his age. But no one of that age especially a male is in tip top condition. There is a considerable possibility that he would die in office or feel obliged to resign on the ground of infirmity. If he wins a second term the chance that he has to step aside mid term is even greater. Even if he sees out two terms it is probable that he would have to rely heavily on the vice-president.
The VP choice is therefore more consequential that perhaps ever before. Biden said he would select an ethnic minority person and probably a female. This person would likely have to go on more foreign trips to represent the US. I suppose that Biden would stay at home to conserve his strength and energy for occasions when his presence was absolutely indispensable.
The style of a Biden presidency would be very different. There would be no more twitter rages in the wee hours. No more incendiary comments would be spewed out. No more inflammatory insults expectorated at world leaders or demonisations of whole swathes of humanity. Placidity and reason would reign. Farewell the hubris and the histrionics.
Government under Biden would be conducted on a more heuristic basis. Trump always goes by gut instinct. Trump’s guileless nature probably explains his four bankruptcies. Yet he abundantly self-praises as a business guru.
The Biden Campaign is not making itself a hostage to fortune by providing detailed policy proposals. These could be picked apart. Republicans could misrepresent them. Biden’s big idea is that there is no big idea. It is about being managerial.
A Biden Administration would be fastidious in offering security briefings to the president. This is because Biden would actually listen unlike his predecessor. As an equanimous sort he would not explode at unwelcome news. Biden does not have an effulgent mind but neither is he dim.
An efficacious Trump briefing had to be very concise indeed, image laden and filled with his name. He has the concentration span of a May fly.
Trump has done almost nothing good for the US by any objective measure. The economy went well for while but not mainly due to him.
In July Trump said in a live on-air therapy session with Sean Hannity that ‘’I am gonna lose maybe.’’ It was the first time he acknowledged that openly.
Trump’s puckish style was refreshing to many in 2016. But many are jaded by it now. His flagship pledge to build a border wall helped propel him to victory in 2016. It might sink him now. Just as Bush senior in 1988 said read my lips no new taxes. It won him election but lost him re-election.
By telling thousands of proven lies on camera Trump has powerfully made the case for his own defeat. His twitter storms, emotional incontinence, pig ignorance, lechery, lethargy, spite, pettiness, inattention and treachery are all disqualifications from the job.
President Trump dismissed his campaign manager. It is changing deckchairs on the Titanic. He did nothing to tackle the underlying problems.
The president patently anticipates defeat on 3 November. That is why is getting excuses in early. He is drilling his base on lines to take. On twitter he says that mail in ballots are fraudulent. That is despite him voting by mail in Florida. Was that a fraud? If he loses he shall bogusly claim that millions of non-citizens voted. He shall say this in the absence of any evidence. He will also claim that it is definite these votes went to his opponent.
Other countries have probed states’ electoral computer systems. They could easily interfere and add millions of votes here or there to skew the election. Bad actors could play havoc with the election. Even if this does not come to pass a hostile intelligence agency could gravely under American faith in the integrity of the election.
This is blowback since the CIA so often meddled in foreign elections. The US illegally funded right wing and religious fundamentalist parties in other countries. The US also certified flagrantly false electoral data in pro-US regimes.
Biden has his debilities. He is forgetful and sometimes fluffs his lines. He has inadvertently offended people. A woman said that he molested her years ago. Others have accused him of touching them inappropriately but stopped short of saying it was sexual assault. Even if all these allegations are Gospel truth he is still an angel compared to Trump.
Though there has been cognitive decline in Biden his mind is trenchant compared to that of his competitor. He has said unwise things and been accused of wandering hands. He is so old not that amatory accusations ring hollow.
Despite this he claimed to be the healthiest president ever. Trump at 70 was healthier than JFK at 43? That is risible. Obama played basketball daily but Trump is in ruder health? George W Bush was in the top 1% of health for males his age but Trump claimed to be in the pink by comparison. There is a possibility that Trump might die before the election. Even if he simply collapses on stage this would spell finis to his presidency. Yet if this does not happen he is still becoming more of a malapert and a moron by the day due to cognitive declension.
When Trump burst onto the political scene in 2015 he seemed jocular and unspun to some. Some found this a breath of fresh air after the bland and overly circumspect triangulations of career politicians. His bold and brash style was eye catching. His defamatory assaults on other Republicans met with ululations of approval from the Neanderthal wing of the party. Others thought Trump invidious and irksome. He was insidious to the base and insolent towards the Republican establishment.
Trump is blessed with boundless self-belief. He blatantly does not suffer from atychiphobia which is why he went for the presidency despite being a political ingenue. His overconfidence led him to many mistakes once he was ensconced in the Oval Office.
If Pence had to take over from a moribund Trump this might not be a game changer. Mike Pence is not such a pathological liar, a pervert, a thief or a race baiter. That is probably why he does not inspire such fanatical devotion among the Republican base. Pence is not as loathsome but nor will be galvanise people the way the Donald did. Trump’s heteropraxy never put off the evangelical Christians in significant numbers. This was one of the most revealing and nauseating things about 2016. Trump never went near a church except for a wedding or a funeral. He was an unconvincing man of God. The serial impenitent adulterer and fraudster nevertheless won the enthusiastic backing of the most judgmental Christian fundamentalists simply by pretending to be anti-abortion. It looks as though he paid for his children by his mistresses to be aborted. This vulgarian was never contrite for his manifold transgressions. His lalochezia when he orated should have horrified the Christian constituency: ‘’I am gonna cut your taxes motherfuckers.’’
Those who looked to the polls and forecast a Clinton victory in 2016 were called morosophs afterwards. The polls got it right almost every other time. Even in 2016 the polls were only 2% out. Trump was just very lucky with the efficient distribution of his vote.
Between this stage in the electoral cycle and the election the polls shift on average 6%. Even if it shifted by that much in favour of Trump he would still lose by 3%. It is possible to lose the popular vote (as Trump did and as Bush Junior did in 2000) and win in the Electoral College. However, this has happened only twice in 150 years. Trump won by 80 000 votes in three swing states. Trump needs every vote he won last time. It is improbable that he will get them all. His supporters are older on average than his opponents. More of his supporters than his opponents have died in the last four years. He has also alienated some of his previous voters.
At the moment it looks propitious for Biden. Trump needs an unprecedently precipitate recovery to win. Biden is an adroit and seasoned politician. He has half a century of politics under his belt. Not all skill is experientially gained. Biden has his native good sense too. Trump is out of his depth and will not adhere to expert advice. That is why political experts who could guide him to victory will have their counsel disregarded.
Democrats are trying not to crow too soon. Do not count your chickens before you are hatched. Their worst enemy could be complacency. Some fear a Queensland scenario. In 1999 the Labor Party was ahead far ahead in the polls in Queensland, Australia. They were so far ahead that their victory was taken as read. This depressed turnout among Labor supporters so much that the opposing party won. Despite increasing buoyancy the Democrats are determined not to be smug. Trump could yet be re-elected. We could still hear a Republican gramercy in November.
To date Trump has been so obtuse as to aggravate coronavirus and the economic downturn. Many recognise him as a noxious influence on the economy and the Republic. A rapid and strict lockdown would have contained coronavirus and allowed a speedy reopening of the economy. He fiddled while Rome burned. Trump gave people false hope. He reassured them that the situation was under control when in truth it was not. The president said coronavirus was about to disappear. There were some missteps from Biden too but he was not getting expert briefings that Trump was.
Trump is parsimonious so will not hire decent campaign staffers. He claims to have ten billion dollars but is never munificent. His charities exist to buy things for himself.
Donald J has labelled his opponent ‘sleepy Joe.’ Yet this has not landed a glove on Biden. Joe Biden does not inspire the visceral odium that virago Hillary ‘’Rodham’’ Clinton did. Indeed, I have not heard a single person say that he or she detests Biden.
Biden has thus far held back from a withering critique of Trump. Mordant attacks on Trump might seem to sink to Trump’s level. Biden has been light on policy too. His sunny disposition is doing him favours. Biden’s persona is in marked contrast to Trumps ever more saturnine demeanour. For Trump there is a lot to frown about. Even Trump’s fans do not wheedle about him much now. Trump is becoming less voluble. Does even he sense that the less said the better? More sententious speeches would make him sink further in the polls. Trump is visibly tremulous. He is less strident at the moment. Yet the spasmodic screeds on Twitter could yet become more frequent nearer November. They will be ever more pernicious and petulant. All this does is to highlight how limpid Biden is. Where Trump is jejune Biden is judicious.
Because of Trump’s friable ego he indulges in incessant and undue self-laudation. He also demands and receives abasement from many Republicans. He does homage to tyrants. He is especially obsequious to one world leader.
Though Trump has not started a war neither has he ended any. His foreign policy cannot be called cautious. His word of words against Kim Jong On ended in Trump conciliating the tyrant. Biden would probably be more consistent and goal oriented in what he does. Unlike George W Bush he would not seek to refashion the world in America’s image.
Biden is taciturn. His strategy seems to be to play it safe. Allow Trump enough rope with which to hang himself. Every time Biden opens his mouth there is a risk of a foolish utterance. Excessive loquacity might be the death of Trump. Biden has learnt from this mistake. That is why there will be only a few scripted and choreographed appearances. He comes across as sagacious and ruminative in comparison to an ever more emotional and unwise Trump. The downside is that his public pronouncements are platitudinous. His banality and unthreatening nature make it possible for some never Trump Republicans to vote for him. That is why it is vital he avoids being bilious however strong the temptation.
The nefarious, clownish and minatory Trump Administration might soon be behind us. His foul rants at anyone who questions could be a thing of the past. Those who voted for him once will often have become fed up of his antics. There will be a lachrymose farewell from Trump cultists. The feckless Trump will probably still caustically say the election was rigged.
The day after Biden is inaugurated Trump might be arrested. There are endless things to charge him with. Breaching the emoluments clause, obstruction of justice, ignoring subpoenas, tax evasion, defalctation, revealing state secrets, campaign finance violations and high treason could be among the charges. The FBI does not charge sitting presidents.
A Biden Administration will not be animistic of the Obama years. Times have changed and there are new challenges to overcome.
None of this means that contumacious skies are ahead. The US has many grave problems to overcome after a calamitous few years. An Arcadian future could come but only if the US solves its many structural weaknesses. These are too numerous and sever to be dealt with in one term or even two.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.