Something occurred to me recently while watching a post-debate Frank Luntz focus group. Comprising undecided voters who liked neither Trump nor Biden, the participants nonetheless believed the president won the debate and most said they’d probably vote for him as “the lesser of two evils.” Their preference for him on policy overrode their higher estimation of Biden’s character.
If they were to read what follows, however, I think they might change that estimation. No, this won’t be about Burisma and the Ukraine and China and Russia and Hunter. It’s about something almost universally missed.
It was mentioned in Thursday’s debate how Trump called Flip-flop King Anthony Fauci an “idiot.” The president is known for sometimes hurling names (just ask Rosie O’Donnell), and perhaps those undecided voters and some others view him as being the bull in a china shop of human relations. But let’s talk about personal attacks.
Biden, “Lunch-bucket Joe,” has this “Aw, shucks!” image as a nice guy. But the 84-year-old retired farmer who questioned him at an event last year may not agree. He’s the guy Biden immediately got aggressive with, called a “damn liar,” appeared to call “fat” and — being the Izzy Mandelbaum of politics — challenged to a strength contest (video below).
Then there was the time, earlier this year, when Biden told a worker who questioned him on the Second Amendment, “You’re full of s***” (video below). Once again, instead of trying to explain why he thought the man was misinformed, Lunch-bucket Joe’s first instinct was to get nasty — really nasty.
Just in case you think such belligerence is explained by Biden’s early-stage dementia, know that it’s nothing new for him. Just consider how he challenged a man to an IQ contest at a 1987 rally after the fellow didn’t swallow hook, line, and sinker Biden’s Walter Mitty-version portrayal of his accomplishments. It’s classic Biden: When the “little people” don’t show the expected obeisance, he slaps them down hard.
This is the point: Trump does launch personal attacks at times, and they’re not always prudent. Yet they do always have one thing in common:
Trump attacks the powerful.
Biden aims his fire downwards. As for the powerful, he’s like most politicians: He panders to them. This is why even Tucker Carlson, normally a discerning fellow, has praised Biden as a nice guy.
This speaks volumes. The true measure of a man is how he treats the powerless, those who, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe put it, “can do nothing for him.”
It also is a metaphor for the larger picture and helps explain Trumpism. While the president is fabulously wealthy, he’s more Main Street than Wall Street. He has taken up the cudgels for the little guy, combating the big-money interests, establishment vultures, and foreign predators that have been raping the middle class and crushing the American dream.
In contrast, the Democrats claim to be the “party of the common man,” but, if anything, they are the party of the uncommon man. They, and the establishment in general, would open our borders to empower the Left with new voters and further enrich big business, would sacrifice American manufacturing on the altar of trade deals benefiting the 0.01 percent, and would rather keep their donors than the people happy. Heck, to many of them, as Biden has put it, America is just an “idea.” And why wouldn’t you sell out an idea for riches and power?
That Trump takes on with words those who can hurt him — and are trying mightily to do so — just reflects how he takes them on with deeds. How Biden sometimes attacks the powerless with words reflects how he has attacked them with deeds, and how he would in the future. There’s a reason why, after all, Forbes wrote last summer that “Joe Biden Is The Only Man Who Can Save China In 2020.” (And you don’t save the American middle class by saving China.)
Of course, neither Biden nor Trump is ready for beatification. But in the character department here, I’ll make my choice on how these men treat “the least among us.”© Selwyn Duke
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.