The news that the president and first lady have tested positive for coronavirus and will now be under quarantine has ramifications which have yet to be sorted out.
However, it seems clear that the mass rallies (a trademark of this president) will thus cease.
This president has sought to take his message directly to the people, and this will now be more difficult, since the mass (opposition) media, with the exception of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, have been uniformly opposed to him, and his administration.
It's remarkable that Donald J. Trump has done as well as he has, considering that he faced something close to an attempted coup against him, orchestrated by elements of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and sympathetic operatives in both the FBI and CIA.
We are not likely to know the details of that effort because the report that was expected from John Durham, the attorney appointed by U.S. Atty. Gen. William "Bill" Barr, to investigate it, may not soon be released, because of what appears to be a decision taken by the Justice Department to refrain from potential election influence.
This is frustrating.
The American people ought to be entitled to know whether the Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden, was involved in the planning of that project to undermine the Trump administration.
It now appears that it may have been Biden who came up with the idea of neutralizing the president’s incoming national security advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, by prosecuting him under an obscure federal statute, the Logan Act, which, until that time, had never actually resulted in a criminal conviction, and which, to this day, has still mired Flynn in a Kafka-esque travesty of justice.
Mr. Trump’s unfair treatment is one of two things explaining the president’s rather startling behavior at the first of the presidential debates last Tuesday evening, when he began to interrupt and badger his opponent, Biden.
The president concluded that the discourse was stacked against him after only a few minutes, when it appeared that Chris Wallace, the moderator, was aligned against him, and that, in fact, he was debating two adversaries rather than one.
This may not have been Wallace’s intent, as he claims he diligently prepared for the debate, had sought carefully to organize it by topic, and had a binder of prepared questions, but had difficulty getting Mr. Trump (and Mr. Biden) to stick to the script.
Still, some, if not most, of the queries Wallace sought to make seemed designed to fit favored Democratic Party narratives — that Mr. Trump was a racist who believed that there were "good people" who were white supremacists, or that in two years he paid only $750 in federal income taxes, for example — narratives demonstrably false.
For Mr. Trump, then, it was reasonable to believe that he faced the classic "When did you stop beating your wife?" kind of inquiry, which assumes the existence of facts clearly not established, and is designed to put a target in an indefensible position.
Post-debate, the effort of the media and the Democrats continued in this vein, as Trump and his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, were continually badgered to denounce "white supremacy," even though Trump had done so twice in the debate, and the president had on many more occasions even more emphatically made such forceful denials.
The white supremacy press feeding frenzy seemed perplexing, in light of the president’s previous and many denials, although Rush Limbaugh sensibly theorized that it might be explainable by the fact that president’s polling among African Americans was high for a Republican, and Democrats realized that unless Trump’s support from that group were reduced, Biden would lose the election.
A second reason for the president’s aggressive behavior in the debate was that it was designed to replicate the tactics used by none other than Mr. Biden himself, in his 2016 debate with Paul Ryan, when the then vice president quite successfully serially interrupted Ryan, smirking and insulting him in a manner that did result in Biden being perceived as the stronger debater and the winner of that contest.
The president appeared pleased with his Tuesday performance, and declared on Wednesday that "Last night, I did what the corrupt media has refused to do. I held Joe Biden accountable for his 47 years of lies, 47 years of betrayal, and 47 years of failure. I held Joe accountable for shipping your jobs and dreams abroad, and for bowing to the violent mob at home."
This was at what may turn out to be one of the president’s last campaign rallies, and the fact that he will now undergo quarantine in this most crucial part of the run-up to the election may be the severest challenge he has faced.
Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. Read Stephen B. Presser's Reports — More Here.
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