The President, trailing in his reelection race as time ticks away, is trying everything to lure the presumptive Democratic nominee into a fight. His team taunts Biden for hiding in his basement during lockdown, and blast the 77-year-old as senile while Trump, 74, boasts about acing cognitive tests. Republicans claim Biden is China's pocket and accuse him of leading (or being led) by leftist anarchists, as Trump stokes a backlash against Black Lives Matter. And now that Trump has finally worn a mask
, his flacks say he carries it off better than Biden, who's had one for weeks.
Presidents seeking reelection must disqualify their rival
as a potential replacement in the Oval Office. In 2012, Barack Obama's team went after Mitt Romney early and hard -- ruthlessly framing him as a heartless vulture capitalist -- an image the Republican later exacerbated with his own errors. George W. Bush eviscerated Democrat John Kerry as a ditherer, while allies shredded the Democrat's record as a Vietnam War hero, raising doubts about whether he was tough to lead a traumatized wartime nation only three years after 9/11.
But in the 2020 race, nothing seems to be sticking. Trump's mocking nickname for his foe -- "Sleepy Joe" -- is not cutting through like "Crooked Hillary," "Low Energy Jeb" and "Little Marco" did for rivals in 2016. And with Biden laying low, Trump is not getting the chance to weaken him: He needs the former vice president on TV all the time, making his signature verbal gaffes and stumbling into mistakes under the pressure.
Eventually, a shaky Biden debate performance could give Trump his opening -- but after so many accusations of doddering, even an average debate showing could exceed viewer expectations. And casting doubt on Biden's mental acuity might be more effective if Trump himself were not prone to misspelled Twitter rants or wondering out loud
whether injected disinfectant can cure Covid-19.
A tale of two magic kingdoms
Just a few days apart, Disney resorts in Florida and Hong Kong have taken radically different approaches to local coronavirus outbreaks. On July 11, Walt Disney World Resort (above) in Lake Buena Vista, Florida
, launched its phased reopening with a great deal of fanfare -- despite a virus surge
in the state that added 27,000 new cases that weekend alone.
On July 13, Hong Kong Disneyland
announced that it would shut down -- after an outbreak of just 52 new coronavirus cases prompted the territory to retighten social distancing measures.
The jilted doctor
Who would you trust for advice in the worst health crisis in 100 years? A world-renowned expert who helped beat back HIV/AIDS, Zika, Ebola and tuberculosis? Or the former host of "Love Connection,"
a 1980s dating game show?
Trump, for one, isn't talking to infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci anymore. The man came running for decades when presidents declared health emergencies, and earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush. His crime is pointing out the obvious truth:
that the pandemic isn't going well at all in the US. Trump is also jealous of Fauci's glowing press, sources tell CNN.
The President can't fire Fauci, technically
, but he is finding solace in new sources of information. On Monday, he made clear that a conspiracy theory from former "Love Connection" supremo Chuck Woolery, who has swapped matchmaking for a conservative podcast, had captured his heart.
'50 years from now, people are going to be reflecting historically on this'
On Monday, speaking during a webinar with the Stanford School of Medicine, Dr. Anthony Fauci called the global coronavirus pandemic an epidemiologist's "worst nightmare." "One thinks about the worst nightmare of an infectious disease person who's interested in global health and outbreaks -- is the combination of a new microbe that has [a] spectacular ... degree of capability of transmitting, and also has a considerable degree of morbidity and mortality -- and here it is, it's happened," he said. "I think 50 years from now, people are going to be reflecting historically on this, the way we used to reflect on the 1918 outbreak," he said.
Speaking of phased reopenings...