Election 2024 /

WSJ: Who’s to Blame for Trump Redux? The Biden re-election strategy is a world-class self-own, but credit the press too.

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Who’s to Blame for Trump Redux?

The Biden re-election strategy is a world-class self-own, but credit the press too. 

The Wall Street Journal’s upset with the Return of Trump continues.  Jenkins writes:

“I spiked a satirical Christmas column on the uncanny, magical power of the Joe Biden re-election strategy—its uncanny power, that is, to boost Donald Trump.

Donald Trump – WSJ Spotlight Coverage, Recent News

Donald Trump was the 45th president of the U.S. and is running again in 2024 for the Republican presidential nom…

Too soon. The joke seemed a wee bit avant-garde. Not anymore. Democrats can still take comfort in an unusually polarizing opponent, which will keep Mr. Biden in the race. But talk about miscalculations. 

It was Mr. Biden who lobbied for the Trump prosecutions. They blew up in Mr. Biden’s face when his own document problems emerged. In setting this ball rolling, he set up his own shaky encounter with special counsel Robert Hur, who panicked Democrats with his picture of a confused, forgetful president, which Mr. Biden’s attorney general allowed to be shared with the world.

This pratfall the president invites over and over by seeking re-election when even a majority of Democrats are telling him he’s too old. If NBC is right, Mr. Hur didn’t sandbag Mr. Biden with a question about the year of his son Beau’s death. Mr. Biden brought it up. 

The prosecutions Mr. Biden sought lofted Mr. Trump not only to the GOP nomination, as desired, but seemingly right past Mr. Biden in the national polls. Anti-Trump focus-group guru Sarah Longwell notes that Mr. Trump’s legal troubles have been especially helpful to him with black voters.

Mr. Biden abetted Hunter’s influence peddling, then publicly declared Hunter did nothing wrong. More pratfalls: First whistleblowers emerged to thwart a Justice Department effort to let Hunter off completely, then Hunter himself thwarted a plea deal meant to spare him jail.

Still to come: a Hunter trial plus the trial of a formerly trusted FBI informant charged with lying about a Ukrainian payoff to Hunter’s dad. The allegation is implausible and I said so, but it never would have been entertained if Hunter hadn’t taken a no-show job with a scandal-plagued Ukrainian company while Joe was running the Obama administration’s Ukraine portfolio.

Add Joe’s phony promise of moderation; add his decision to let the border collapse to prove his anti-Trump bona fides. And yet, in creating the Trump redux moment, Mr. Biden’s miscalculations pale next to the press’s. Apparent now, in Technicolor, was the essential short-termism of its 2016 decision to abandon objectivity in favor of anti-Trump propaganda.

This made it easier for a cable newshound to get through his stand-up, a pundit to churn out his screed, and all concerned to get clicks. But over time it discredited the press, not Mr. Trump. 

It’s embarrassing that a representative of the media has to say it, but the truth has a weight too. Somebody at America’s 100 million dinner tables might still say Trump was a Russian agent, Jan. 6 was an organized insurrection, the Hunter Biden laptop was fake, Hunter and Joe did nothing wrong, Trump called neo-Nazis fine people. But now somebody else can say, “Did you know?” and point to multiple government investigations by the Justice Department inspector general and special counsels. They can point to videos and transcripts online of Mr. Trump’s undistorted, unmisrepresented words. 

Mr. Trump’s cheerful resilience in the face of calumny registers with voters, but so does his practice, when reeling off favorable polls or news, of saying, “I wouldn’t be telling you this if it wasn’t good for me.”

Proving wit isn’t dead in our industry, a Long Island Newsday headline writer called it “transparency you can see through.”

Bingo. By telling voters he’s “playing the game,” he suggests the media is merely playing the game when it attacks him, even if the attacks are richly deserved.

This enables the impossible lift, the true Trumpian innovation: His voters see the irrepressibly tactless entertainer in front of them simultaneously as someone capable of being a responsible and pragmatic president.

Let’s end with gobsmacking contrasts that register with half of America, give or take the 100,000 who may well decide the 2024 race.

Mr. Trump openly and forthrightly promoted to the courts and public self-serving, evidence-free claims of a stolen 2020 election.

Democrats secretly and unforthrightly peddled fabricated evidence of their own creation of an election stolen by Russia in 2016.

Mr. Trump, on a call with half his government’s foreign-policy bureaucracy listening in, sought Ukraine’s cooperation in an official U.S. investigation of Biden activities in Ukraine.

Mr. Biden’s campaign, including his future secretary of state, secretly and underhandedly schemed with intelligence officials falsely to tar a foreign government to cover up the Hunter laptop.

Who is a more cynical violator of political norms, the singular, free-booting Mr. Trump or a uniformly hostile establishment? Who is more responsible for leading America into an abyss of intolerance, a loss of democratic equanimity in the face of mere differences of opinion?

After nine years and three presidential campaigns, Mr. Trump for the first time consistently leads one of his Democratic opponents in the polls. He can thank his enemies. My Christmas column would have begun: All through the White House not a creature was stirring, except Jill Biden, wrestling with a strange, unexplained urge to vote for Donald Trump.”

To write of  “a uniformly hostile establishment” is to express exactly what millions of Americans believe they have seen in the Trump era. Which is key to understanding why they support him.