Are both presidential candidates trying to lose? Or at least pursuing campaign strategies which put them at grave risk of defeat?
Commentary by Michael Barone
Most Recent Releases
On Monday, Joe Biden finally broke his monthslong silence on court packing. Previously, he refused to take a stand -- "whatever position I take in that, that'll become the issue," he said in the Sept. 29 debate, said voters didn't "deserve to know" his position or would know it "when the election is over,"
Now that Donald Trump exited from Walter Reed Hospital and the vice presidential debate aired, let's turn to an apolitical analyst to understand what's happening. Vaclav Smil, 76, native of communist Czechoslovakia and former University of Manitoba professor for four decades, has written 39 books on energy, technology and demography. "Nobody," says Bill Gates, who has read every book, "sees the big picture with as wide an aperture as Vaclav Smil."
"Chaos." "Painful." "Dispiriting." "The worst presidential debate in American history." "The lowest point in American political culture in my lifetime."
Norms, we are told, matter. Violating norms, recklessly disregarding norms -- these are charges on which President Donald Trump is often arraigned in the court of public opinion.
What happens if, as seems much more likely now than it did a year or six months ago, Democrats overturn the Republican majority in the Senate?
Joe Biden just can't get his story straight on his green energy promises.
In Pittsburgh, in front of union workers last month, he declared: "I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking. No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me."
The presidential campaign is at knife's edge. Both parties' campaigns assume that patterns of support will closely resemble those in 2016. And both are making surprisingly little effort, considering how close that contest turned out to be, with the 46 crucial electoral votes decided by just 77,744 votes, to increase their levels of support.
To that nagging question, the answer increasingly seems to be yes.
You know the first two nights of the Republicans' virtual national convention have gone well when you see that Politico's morning Playbook leads with a lame joke about the U.S. Postal Service hiring a new lobbyist, aimed at reviving the post office non-scandal. Ho, ho, ho!
Give Politico's chief Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza, some credit. After Michelle Obama's speech capping the first night of the Democrats' virtual convention, he tweeted: "Story of an era in two convention speeches: Barack 04: 'There's not a black America and white America . ... there's the United States of America.' Michelle 20: 'my message won't be heard by some people' because 'we live in a nation that is deeply divided.'"
Just as Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his vice presidential nominee, and a week before the Democrats' virtual national convention is scheduled to begin at various sites, the basement strategy he's been pursuing, hailed as the political equivalent of "The Emperor's New Clothes," was starting to look tattered and torn.
If the presidential nominating process is the weakest part of our political system -- and, perhaps not coincidentally, one not referenced by the founders -- the vice presidential selection process comes solidly in second place. Some might even argue it's a contender for the top spot.
"Protestors in California," tweeted ABC News, about an incident in Oakland, "set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station and assaulted officers after a peaceful demonstration intensified."
If things had proceeded according to schedule, we'd be checking the polls this week to see if Joe Biden had gotten a bounce from his acceptance speech in Milwaukee. That's because the Democratic National Convention was originally scheduled for July 13-16.
You could say it's all Donald Trump's fault. His bad qualities -- his carelessness about facts, his obstinance about admitting error, his contempt for others' views -- have turned out to be contagious, to the point that you could argue they're more damaging to his opponents than to him.
"I don't think I've ever seen such dishonest and biased coverage of any event." That was Brit Hume, who has been covering events for more than 50 years for Fox News, ABC News and investigative reporter Jack Anderson.
Americans naturally tend to think of their presidents in terms of generations, like they do with their families. This may have started with the news that former Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, half a century to the day the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence they jointly drafted.
White college graduates have emerged from the last two decades of elections as an increasingly large and cohesive political bloc -- and one that poses problems for both political parties.
Back in the pre-COVID-19 era, their numbers augmented by recent products of woke campuses, they seemed the dominant force in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Success breeds failure. That's a lesson taught by America's current woes, the stumbling attempts to cope with the novel coronavirus, and the all-too-familiar scripts for responding to police misconduct and violent riots.