As John Lennon sings of those who want a revolution, “We’d all love to see the plan.”
Well, we don’t have to wonder about Joe Biden’s plan to stop a revolution, or insurrection, depending on your point of view. His campaign has helpfully leaked it to the New York Times.
Most of it won’t surprise you; in fact it’s pretty well known. And why would the Biden camp want to give away its confidential strategy, so it could be read and countered by Donald Trump and his advisers?
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My take is that the leak is aimed at persuading the media that the president has a solid chance at keeping his job against the former president. Biden has abysmal poll numbers, he’s got the age issue, and Trump is edging him in a number of battleground state polls.
In short, he has to counter the narrative that he’s likely to lose in November, which could create a self-reinforcing death spiral.
It’s also a reminder that the president has sent two top White House officials, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon and Mike Donilon, to run the campaign from Wilmington – on Barack Obama’s advice. Maybe they are rejiggering what he plans to do.
There are obvious advantages to incumbency: You can fly around on Air Force One, take official actions that make big news and generally play the commander-in-chief card.
But there are serious disadvantages as well. Everything that goes wrong can be blamed on you, especially when the country is in an angry mood, as it is now.
When an Iran-backed group launched a drone strike that killed three American soldiers in Jordan, Biden vowed to retaliate. He also has to balance that against the risks of a wider war, but as each day goes by – and this is also true of the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea – he looks weaker.
Biden has done a very good job managing the Mideast war, but even that is hurting him with the left-wing segment of his party that opposes Israel and supports Hamas.
Then there’s the out-of-control border with a record-shattering number of illegal migrant crossings last month – a huge albatross for the president.
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Biden has been pushing a bipartisan border deal, in part to resume military aid to Israel and Ukraine, but Trump may have killed it by telling Republicans to hold off until he’s back in office, even boasting “blame me.”
Growing consumer confidence as inflation slows and the Dow zooms past 38,000 should also help the president, but most Americans are financially anxious and aren’t giving him credit.
Biden says if the measure passes he will use the authority to shut down the border when it is overwhelmed. But what’s to stop him from declaring a national emergency and doing that right now? Yes, he would give up his leverage on military aid, and yes, this has given the Democrats an argument that Trump would rather have the issue than a solution. But the president needs to do something dramatic.
Now for the leaked campaign plan:
The Biden camp wants to make Trump the issue – big surprise – by portraying him as “a mortal threat to American government and civil society.” There will be a “direct assault” on Trump (didn’t Biden already do that in a pair of speeches around the Jan. 6 anniversary?) and a “heavy emphasis on abortion rights” (which was launched last week with Kamala Harris making the TV rounds).
Campaign aides, says the Times, want to make the Capitol riot a “touchstone” (check), and “believe that the more the public sees and hears Mr. Trump, the less people will be inclined to vote for him” (maybe).
But there is one new strategy: Biden made an hour-long visit in North Carolina “to the home of a supporter who had his student loans canceled through a federal program. The man’s son later posted a video of Mr. Biden’s visit on TikTok, which drew millions of views – a template for how the campaign hopes to reach voters in new ways.”
Campaign officials are talking to “celebrities and social media stars” about promotions on Instagram and TikTok, with the president sometimes making the pitch.
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And here’s the zinger: the chatter around Taylor Swift “and the potential of reaching her 279 million Instagram followers.”
Biden wants her endorsement – she’s a Democrat, after all – but the idea that she would do it at the Super Bowl, since her boyfriend and the Kansas City Chiefs will be there, is ludicrous. Maybe later on they could sing a duet with Travis Kelce looking on (yeah, right).
The only reason I can see Taylor not endorsing is that she doesn’t want to deal with all the vitriol that would come from Trump supporters.
And by the way, even though the Swifties make the singer the most popular person in the world – and she’s Time’s person of the year – does anyone really believe she could steer a significant number of votes to Biden?
I’ve got better advice, but the president won’t take it. He should use the bully pulpit. He should do more interviews, and not just with friendly podcasters – take some tough questions and make some news. So what if he stumbles or slurs his words?
But his advisers are largely shielding the 81-year-old president from the press, except for a few shouted questions near the helicopter.
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Biden seems to be under the impression that putting out statements is enough, but television and the web thrive on video.
When the three American service members were killed, he should have gone before the cameras. When the economy grew at a 3.3% rate last quarter, he should have gone before the cameras.
I’m sure even Taylor Swift would approve.