April 22nd, 2024


How to Save a Presidency

Josh Hammer

By Josh Hammer

Published March 20, 2020

How to Save a Presidency
Three weeks ago, President Donald Trump seemed poised for reelection this November. And then the world changed.

Coronavirus, the most ubiquitous and debilitating pandemic in a century, has already taken a crippling toll on our public health and economy alike. The stock market, which hit record highs just last month, has now effectively erased its Trump-era gains. Whether it's asset values plummeting, small businesses shuttering, unemployment spiking or our fellow Americans dying, things are tragically going to first get worse before they get better.

But there will be a nadir. We will hit rock bottom, and then we will convalesce. When that recovery begins, Trump will likely find himself an underdog for reelection.

Yet, Trump can still prevail against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and secure a second term. Indeed, there is a clear path. It involves making the 2020 presidential election a referendum on the virus's culprit, China — and the thuggish arch-foe that is the Chinese Communist Party.

Going back decades, to his days gracing the New York tabloid covers, there are relatively few political issues where Trump has been truly consistent. Hawkishness on China is one of them. This stance not only plays well for Trump's base; it will resonate with a recovering, post-coronavirus American people and paint a bold contrast with both Biden and the media elites all too eager to provide cover for ChiCom treachery.

While America's ruling class has long viewed liberalized relations with China as a positive good, Trump has stood out as a rare and vocal skeptic. More doubtful of free trade and a globalized economy than fellow travelers in his social stratum, Trump's nationalist economic message now perfectly dovetails with a compelling national security message.

China, an aspiring geopolitical hegemon that already spies on adversaries via Huawei equipment and pilfers American intellectual property to the cost of $225 billion-$600 billion annually, is now responsible for unleashing a disastrous epidemic upon the globe.

But anti-China political messaging and policies will not merely rally Trump's red hat-clad MAGA base. Following this horrific ordeal, such a platform will also appeal to the median American. And it will allow the president to frame the election in a way that undermines media credibility and imperils the ChiComs' favorite presidential contender: Biden.

The fourth estate, already unpopular for many Americans and a frequent target for Trump beratement, has beclowned itself in the early stages of the coronavirus. Let us state the obvious: There is nothing "racist" about calling this horrible disease, which allegedly emanated in an open-air Wuhan market, the "Wuhan virus" or "Chinese virus."

The Ebola, Zika and West Nile viruses all take their names from African geography. In crying "racism" over the president's accurate choice of virological nomenclature, our media betters are disseminating ChiCom propaganda. They deserve scorn for that.

But even more so than our hapless media, framing the 2020 election as a referendum would allow Trump to persuasively place Biden squarely in his crosshairs. Forbes ran a piece last year entitled "Joe Biden Is The Only Man Who Can Save China In 2020," and it did so for a very simple reason: The former vice president has spent his entire decades-long Washington career as a ChiCom sycophant. Back in the 1990s, Biden was instrumental in securing most-favored-nation trade status and World Trade Organization membership for China.

As veep, he praised Beijing as an American "partner." And on a personal level, Biden and his family have profited immensely from ChiCom contracts and capital infusion. Disgraced son Hunter owns a 10% stake in a Shanghai-based private equity firm — whose board he first joined after oddly accompanying his father to Beijing on a 2013 diplomatic trip.

The ancient Chinese military theorist Sun Tzu taught that before a battle even begins, it is won by choosing the terrain on which it will be fought. By choosing to make 2020 an election about who can best confront America's No. 1 geopolitical threat, Trump will maximize his chances of a second term.

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