In 2019, Donald Trump tried to derail Joe Biden’s candidacy by secretly coercing Ukraine into announcing an investigation into him and his son. Since it backfired and got him impeached, Trump has appeared focused on trying to warn America about Biden’s verbal gaffes in the hope that voters will conclude they are frighteningly disqualifying.
After Biden once mistakenly referred to Super Tuesday as “Super Thursday,” Trump claimed at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina that if Biden is elected, “super-left radical crazies” will run the country after they “put him into a home.” Biden then scored a huge victory, prompting Trump to visit Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania and ramp up attacks at a Fox News town hall. Trump again complained about how Biden called it “Super Thursday,” and, after highlighting two more recent gaffes, insisted that “there’s something going on.”
Given all this, it was a little surprising to hear Trump speak so cordially about Biden at Monday evening’s White House coronavirus task force briefing. Trump brought up his recent phone conversation with Biden about the coronavirus pandemic, saying “we had a really wonderful, warm conversation. It was a nice conversation… a very friendly conversation… it was really good, really nice. I think it was, very much.” Trump added that he “fully understood” Biden’s point of view and “so I appreciate his calling.”
A bit later, Trump even went so far as to compliment Biden, telling a reporter, “I think he’s a nice man. I’ve always thought he’s a nice man.” Was Trump playing nice in order to save face after Biden called Kellyanne Conway’s bluff after she demanded that he call? Or was Trump’s conciliatory tone perhaps a weird attempt to attract independents and disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters?
Whatever Trump’s motive, he proved that he lacked the discipline to keep up the charade for long. A little over an hour into the briefing, Trump said, “Take a look at the swine flu, H1N1.” He then slowed down, as if to arouse suspicion. “It’s not the other way around. You know what I mean by that.” In this subtle, coded way, Trump blew his cover and returned to insulting Biden for his gaffes, as he was clearly referencing the time Biden said “N1H1” at the recent one-on-one presidential primary debate in Washington.
This November, we can vote for someone who once switched the order of the characters in a disease’s name, or a racist fearmonger who repeatedly called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” even as it triggered hate crimes against Americans. There is no such thing as a flawless president of the United States, but a respectable, intelligent, and empathetic president is, fortunately, a possibility for 2021. America must elect Joe Biden, gaffes and all.