Mean beats crazy in presidential politics

John Fund of National Review Online takes stock of the 2020 presidential race.

This past week many Democrats began saying publicly what they have been agonizing about privately: It’s entirely possible Donald Trump could win reelection.

The odds are increasing that his opponent will end up being viewed as more extreme than Trump. “If it’s a race between ‘mean’ and ‘crazy,’ I fear mean wins hands down,” one former Democratic congressman told me. “As a young voter, I saw ‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon demolish a George McGovern who was tagged as being in favor of ‘acid, amnesty, and abortion.’”

That’s not all that Democrats have to worry about. Trump’s outré behavior has led many Democrats to obsess about him, overreact to every perceived outrage, and distract them to the point that they’ve allowed socialists and “woke” progressives to capture much of the party’s policy agenda.

“We spend too much time chasing whatever foolishness Trump throws out there, and he’s masterful at it,” Cornell Belcher, a veteran Democratic pollster, told the Washington Post. For example, Trump couldn’t have asked for a better overreaction to his State of the Union message than Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s dramatically tearing up the speech on national TV, standing on the podium right after he finished speaking. …

… According to Oval Office visitors, Trump privately chortles at the extent to which he lives rent-free in the heads of his opponents, thus discombobulating them. A new book entitled “A Very Stable Genius” recounts that former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, now a fierce Trump critic, once witnessed a classic over-the-top Trump riff in the Oval Office. Scaramucci then reportedly asked the president, “Are you an act?” Scaramucci says that Trump replied, “I’m a total act, and I don’t understand why people don’t get it.”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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