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Biden can’t run on his record, so he’s running on Trump


Following months of wrangling over strategy, direction and messaging, President Biden’s campaign brain trust has seemingly settled on a re-election theme – if former President Trump returns to the White House, American democracy and all the inherent freedoms it guarantees will be destroyed.
The strategy is founded on the dark belief a Trump presidency will result in an autocratic government managed and administered by a band of revenge-driven extremists intent on pursuing perceived enemies and critics.
While there are undoubtedly many in the Biden campaign who believe – in the president’s words – “democracy is in the ballot,” the overriding political decision is calculated to shift the debate dynamic away from the traditional referendum on the incumbent and focus in what it argues is the existential threat to democracy posed by the challenger.
The president’s overall job performance dipped to 39 percent in recent surveys while he remains seriously underwater – as great as two to one – on his handling of virtually every issue of concern to the American people.
He’s fallen behind Trump in several matchup scenarios – albeit within the margin of error – but the mere fact that an incumbent president is in genuine danger of losing re-election to an opponent under four criminal indictments is a deeply concerning indication of his vulnerability.
In normal circumstances, a president’s re-election outlook turns on a four-year record of achievement and accomplishment, a litany of legislative and executive actions to assure the nation’s safety and security, its economic wellbeing, a guarantee of personal protections, and a devoted steward of taxpayers’ dollars.
Biden – much like President Jimmy Carter in 1980 – hasn’t yet shown he can make a compelling case for a second term.
Forty three years ago, when then challenger Ronald Reagan asked “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” it fell with devastating impact on Carter, who was unable to deal with double digit inflation and unemployment.
In the Real Clear Politics polling averages, if the identical question was posed to Biden today, it would be answered in this fashion:
By 67 to 24 percent, Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction while on his Administration’s handling of the economy, immigration, crime and foreign policy, his disapproval ranges from 58 to 67 percent.
The war between Israel and Hamas has exposed deep fractures in his own party, while continuing to pour billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine to continue its bloody two-year stalemate with Russia has encountered opposition.

Inflation has eased somewhat, falling from last year’s high of nine percent to just over three percent, while millions of American families continue to struggle with the high cost of everything from groceries to cars.
While “Bidenomics” has largely been a failure, control of illegal immigration at the southern border has been an unmitigated disaster.
The latter issue has emerged as a major concern while the administration seems disengaged from it, drawing serious criticism from big city mayors forced to allocate millions of local dollars to housing and providing services for the influx of tens of thousands of to the migrants.
The Biden team has been cautious in its campaign approach, maintaining a relatively light schedule, limiting presidential appearances to friendly audiences and keeping media interactions to a bare minimum.
Looming over their efforts, of course, is the unrelenting focus on the president’s age and health and whether he is physically capable of withstanding the rigors and pressures of a national campaign.
Concentrating on preserving democracy and keeping it free from Trump’s clutches will continue to be Biden’s dominant narrative.
To be sure, Trump has played into it with repeated incendiary comments, wild attacks and accusations – mostly unsupported or too bizarre to believe – and cringe worthy suggestions of his actions should he return to power.
Biden’s strategy has been criticized as an exercise in fearmongering and there is a hint of validity in that characterization.
His task is to convince the American people that he stands between the slight hint and perilous reality.

Copyright 2024 Carl Golden, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.