Biden's Closing Message Has Been There All Along

[ Posted Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 – 15:04 UTC ]

This is the phase of the presidential election when all the pundits start talking about what the candidates' "closing message" either is, will be, or should be. For Joe Biden, the closing message really should be one that has been there all along. In fact, it's the underpinning of pretty much everything Biden has campaigned on, whether explicit or merely implied. It's also easy to state and it is already on the minds and lips of voters everywhere. It is such a simple message that I identified it long before Joe Biden even became the Democratic nominee.

Here's how I put it back then -- in July of 2019, no less:

I realize that we are still in the midst of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, but today I'd like to leap forward to present a very simple (and, to me, obvious) strategy for whomever secures the Democratic nomination and has to take on Donald Trump in next year's general election. Because I think I've come up with an all-encompassing campaign slogan that will stand the test of both time and Trump. It cuts to the very heart of the argument that a Democrat -- any Democrat, in fact -- would be miles better than what we've got now. Picture the presidential nominee repeating at every rally next summer the following line: "Do we really want this for the next four years?!?"

Its generic nature is its strength. You can either spell out in great detail what "this" refers to, or you can just let it hang and allow the voters to fill in that blank. Either way, it asks voters a very basic question -- do they want to spend the next four years the way we've all spent the past two and a half?

The non-specificity also has another built-in advantage: it never gets old. Trump will provide the fodder on a weekly (if not daily, or hourly) basis for what "this" refers to. Last week, obviously, "this" would have meant "blatant racism from the president of the United States." This week, it might mean something entirely different (the week is young...). Next week, it will doubtlessly have moved on to some fresh outrage from the Oval Office. But the slogan doesn't need to change, because the exasperation it expresses covers all of Trump's excesses, in one tidy package.

As I said, this one simple thought is already at the core of pretty much any Biden policy position or campaign argument you can point to. But I would urge Biden to make it a lot more central an argument. Because, as I predicted, it has already become the motivating factor for millions of voters. Here's what I woke up and read this morning in Politico, by way of proof:

[I]f Trump loses, the biggest factor won't be COVID-19 or the economic meltdown or the social unrest. It will be his unlikability.

As I wrote last week in a dispatch from Arizona, sometimes you hear a voter say something "so basic, so one-dimensional, that you're inclined to dismiss it until you hear it for the thousandth time." That's the story of this election: All across America, in conversations with voters about their choices this November, I've been hearing the same thing over and over again: "I don't like Trump." (Sometimes there's a slight variation: "I'm so tired of this guy," "I can't handle another four years of this," etc. The remarkable thing? Many of these conversations never even turn to Biden; in Phoenix, several people who had just voted for the Democratic nominee did not so much as mention his name in explaining their preference for president.

Generations of pollsters and journalists have fixated on the question of which candidate voters would rather have a beer with -- a window into how personality translates into political success. Here's the thing: Americans have been having a beer with Trump for the past four years -- every morning, every afternoon, every evening. He has made himself more accessible than any president in history, using the White House as a performance stage and Twitter as a real-time diary for all to read. Like the drunk at the bar, he won't shut up.

Whatever appeal his unfiltered thoughts once held has now worn off. Americans are tired of having beers with Trump. His own supporters are tired of having beers with Trump. In hundreds of interviews this year with MAGA loyalists, I have noted only a handful in which the person did not, unsolicited, point to the president's behavior as exhausting and inappropriate. Strip away all the policy fights, all the administrative action (or inaction), all the culture war politics, and the decision for many people comes down to a basic conclusion: They just do not approve of the president as a human being.

I'm reminded of a recent conversation I had with Dan Crenshaw, the Republican congressman from Texas. He shared how in Harris County -- particularly in some of the affluent suburbs -- many voters he encountered, including center-right Republicans, are refusing to support Trump's reelection. I asked him why.

"They have a personal dislike for him. It's just that simple," Crenshaw said.

Crenshaw is right. If Trump loses, history will record any number of contributing factors to his political demise. But it should place them all in the context of that "simple" underlying reality.

That simple underlying reality should also be placed squarely at the center of Joe Biden's closing message. It's already there, in many forms, in fact. Biden has indeed been drawing a clear comparison between Trump's endless juvenile antics and how an adult should behave in the Oval Office. Biden makes this comparison in many ways on many issues, in fact. But he should give at least one speech (perhaps his closing argument at Thursday's debate might be a good time?) that strips away all the boring policy arguments and just speaks directly to the Trump fatigue that virtually all voters have been feeling for the past four years.

Here is the speech I suggested last July, which (due to its generic nature) doesn't need one word changed to be just as effective now (...well... OK, it would require one number to be changed, as Trump has now lied over 20,000 times). It ends with a slam on Trump's disaster responses, but please remember that this was written a full six months before anyone had heard the terms "COVID-19" or "novel coronavirus." Here is what I would love to hear Joe Biden say this Thursday night:

Do you really want this for the next four years? Is this really the best America can do? Do you really want to keep having to explain to your children why the president of the United States can get away with saying things that a kindergartener would get punished for? Do you really want to continue having to come up with an excuse for why the president is allowed to tweet things that would get your own teenager kicked off Twitter? Do you really want to have to excuse the fact that the president lies on a daily basis -- over 10,000 lies and counting?

Do you really want this for the next four years? Do you want to continue to wake up each morning dreading seeing what is in the news that day because you just know there will be a fresh, brand-new embarrassment from the president that everyone's talking about? Do we really want to continue to be the laughingstock of the world on a daily basis?

Wouldn't you rather have a president who is fully capable of constructing a sentence in the English language that a fifth-grade teacher wouldn't have to heavily mark up with a red pen? Or that knows how to spell -- or at the very least knows how to use a spell-checker? Someone who doesn't randomly capitalize words for no reason? Wouldn't things be a lot better if the president were able to sit through a briefing with his aides and not have everything presented as pictures and cartoons? I don't know about you, but I'd rather have someone who was mentally capable of reading an entire briefing book rather than only having the mental focus to digest a single-page dumbed-down follow-the-arrows caricature of a briefing.

I for one am ready for a president who doesn't run America's foreign policy solely on how much foreign leaders fawn over him or her. I'm ready for someone to actually tackle the problem of North Korea's nukes rather than falling in love with a brutal dictator who executed a member of his family with an anti-aircraft gun. Because we can do better than this. We can do better than someone who has to have the concept of a tariff being a tax on American farmers explained to him over and over and over again.

Do you really want this for the next four years? Or wouldn't you rather go to sleep each night secure in the knowledge that our president won't have picked some meaningless bullying fight with some random entertainer or sports figure during the wee hours of the morning when he's bored and nobody's monitoring his Twitter output? Wouldn't you rather have a First Lady or Gentleman who understood the cruel irony of trying to champion an anti-bullying campaign while her husband is the worst possible example of online bullying imaginable?

Do you really want to suffer through this for the next four years? Or how about having a president without crippling insecurities that drive him to bizarre and hateful statements on a regular basis? How about a president who understands that the term "genius" -- like the word "hero" -- is only really valid when other people say it about you rather than when you desperately try to claim the mantle for your own? And I would really like to see a president in the Oval Office for the next four years with a measurable degree of human empathy, who doesn't visit disaster areas as if he's on a school field trip. Or even one who focuses the attention on the disaster victims themselves instead of always on his own big fat ego?

That, to me, is the best argument for voting against Donald Trump. It hasn't changed at all. It's been there all along. Do you really want this for the next four years? Or can we as a nation do better? It really is that simple.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


25 Comments on “Biden's Closing Message Has Been There All Along”

  1. [1] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Agreed. I remember a co-worker of mine complaining about how she was so tired of BHO 5 or 6 years ago. She was not an Obama hater.

    People are exhausted and sick of the orange one's omnipresence. American's generally don't pay a lot of attention to what the president does (or doesn't). The pandemic is an exception, though. It's also omnipresent.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "He's fleein' the interview. He's fleein' the interview!"

    The 60 Minutes interview is going to be sheer fun. :-)

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How much time does Biden get for a closing argument? Heh.

    Seriously, I hope he delivers that rant, too!

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    yeah, donald's inscription at yad vashem still sticks in my craw.


  5. [5] 
    John M wrote:

    What about Trump's recent rally in Erie, Pennsylvania? He actually told the crowd I don't want to have to be here in Erie talking to you people. Is Trump actually trying to deliberately make his loss bigger?

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    i love that quote. even better is frances mcdormand's delivery. for pete's sake.

  7. [7] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    John M [5]

    Donn Deutsch says the orange one is actually focused (consciously or not) on his next act. That will be his subscription TV channel.

  8. [8] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Older-than-Gawd evangelical TV grifter gargoyle Pat Robertson says that the certain re-election of Short Fingers will bring on the apocalypse again. Other good stuff like civil unrest, war with Israel, and the return of the zombie messiah will be featured. So by all means, get out there and vote. Let your voice be heard. Write that check.

    The End is near.

  9. [9] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Consider the selfish and bitter man. His selfishness and bitterness, like a fire, consume everything but his bitter selfishness. To accept God, one must turn from self-centeredness and live a life of self-denial. Infidels are selfish and selfishness is the seed of eternal ruin. The wicked must be separated from the righteous, but God is no sadist. God is not the tormentor in Hell. The Devil and his demons torment the lost.

    God is love.

  10. [10] 
    TheStig wrote:


    I think you are almost spot on with this closing statement. I would just Biden-ize it a bit more.

    "Come on people"....dismissive arm sweep directed at the Trump Podium..."Do we really want four more years of this?"

    Trump's face is to failed strong man leadership is as Chef Boyardee's face is to canned spaghetti.

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    failed strong man leadership? more like failed weak man leadership. he wishes he were andrew jackson, but he's really warren harding.

  12. [12] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Amy McGrath's latest campaign ad is wonderful. I wish I could believe that it'll make a difference. At one point in their one and only debate he said "her whole campaign is: she's a Marine, she's a mom, and I've been here for too long."

    The ad shows McConnell laughing at her in the debate as she talks about him refusing to do any pandemic relief. And then, at the end of the ad, the video just shows him saying "she's a Marine, she's a mom, and I've been here for too long."

    Ditch Mitch / Dump Trump

  13. [13] 
    SF Bear wrote:
  14. [14] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    nypoet22 [12] -

    he wishes he were andrew jackson, but he's really warren harding

    Oh, snap! I just love a good historical putdown.

    Well done! I doff my hat in your general direction...



  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Don Harris [6] -

    Hoo boy... "there's no difference between the two parties' candidates!"

    That takes me back to, like, the year 2000. Remember the Gore/Bush campaign and the naysayers then?

    Ah... nostalgia...


    Of course, today it's even less true than back then -- obviously -- but hey, nice to hear a blast from the past once in a while.


  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:



  18. [18] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: And I would really like to see a president in the Oval Office for the next four years with a measurable degree of human empathy, who doesn't visit disaster areas as if he's on a school field trip.

    And I would really like to see a president in the Oval Office for the next four years who isn't compromised and a counterintelligence risk to the United States because he has a secret bank account in China.

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller

    "He's fleein' the interview. He's fleein' the interview!"

    Heh. :)

  20. [20] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    I'd like Biden to take a few moments to highlight Trump's myriad of dubious dealings while in office. A bit of blunt-force truth for Trump's hollow-head brigade to digest for a few days. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to think contestants in the game of Democracy should have to offer up explanations for some of the overtly repellant behaviour exhibited while on the taxpayer's dime. A fun segue into the 'scopolamine' segment of the night would be to answer any mention of The Ukraine with questions about Trump Tower Moscow and why Trump is now known colloquially as Mr. Unindited Co-Conspiritor! Or any queries about Hunter Biden in China with concerns about Don the Lesser's penchant for 3am drug-adled exhortations to arms on voting day. One could always weave in rhetorical quizzing about Chinese patents obtained by Ivanka, or the hitherto unknown Chinese bank account and few tons of cheaply made Sino-sofas and other assorted pieces of gaudy furniture that now sit in various Trump hotels, because America has no carpenters or upholsterers with which to make America great again... FFS, at this point, Biden could make up a few things, chances are Trump has shredded the laws or guidelines that has kept his predecessors off that particular lawn for a few centuries.

    I just need to see Biden give as well as he gets, Trump is probably the easiest person on earth to unhinge with whataboutisms and glass-house rock-throwing. I suspect Trump would whither to apoplexy after three minutes of well-executed shadowy thuths about his hypocrisy... Biden has the time to kill once he's outlined the few hundred reasons why Trump isn't fit to run a bath, let alone a country, and that leaving CV19 and a vibrant economy to Trump's supervision is akin to leaving your baby with a pack of hungry Dingoes while you nip down the pub for a swift half of Watney's Red Barrel and a packet of Pork Scratchings.

    It would beat 'that's a damn lie, man...'

    Chutzpah is required in any debate, more so when Trump is on the other side pushing for 21,000, and a new presidential record, heapings of manure from the undisputed 'stable genius'.

    PS. We can add ironic sarcasm to atheist on the light-list of Trump's positive attributes. Playing John Fogerty's Fortunate Son at rallies is definitely someone's idea of a brilliant chuckle.


  21. [21] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller

    The 60 Minutes interview is going to be sheer fun. :-)

    Heh. Poor Donald couldn't handle the questions, and he's intimidated by strong females so he walked out like a toddler:

    "Sir, you have no call to get snippy with me. I'm just doing my job here." ;)

  22. [22] 
    James T Canuck wrote:


    Are we to understand that you're pledging four more years of whatever it is that you seem hung up on in every thread since the before time, Don Harris?

    I have to admit, it's as consistent as it is banal in it's tireless quest for recognition herein, the land-o-Wegantia.

    Blessed be, the status quo.


  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Another great quote, Kick!

  24. [24] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    You wrote "But [Biden] should give at least one speech (perhaps his closing argument at Thursday's debate might be a good time?) that strips away all the boring policy arguments and just speaks directly to the Trump fatigue..."

    And your suggested closing argument does capture the emotions of so many non-Trump voters and citizens.

    One question. I'm not going to watch the debate, for obvious reasons, so maybe this question is out of place.

    But did the Debate Commission say that the two candidates would be on shut microphones during their opponent's 'closing arguments'? As I read it, the closed mics apply only to their two-minute answers to the host's prompt questions. Trump hates this, of course, and one can only imagine that the 'debate' on open mics after the two-minute questions will be non-stop Trump outbursts and disruptions of whatever Biden tries to say. Call me nutty, but I don't see the president suddenly and respectfully quieting down just because Uncle Joe is, at the end, delivering his "closing arguments".

    Do you really want this for the next four years? [YES, ALL REAL AMERICANS DO!] Is this really the best America can do? [LIKE YOU COULD DO BETTER, YOU LOSER!] Do you really want to keep having to explain to your children why the president of the United States can get away with saying things that a kindergartener would get punished for? [I'M NOT THE KIDNER .. KINDEG .. KINDER .. LITTLE KID -- YOU ARE!]

    Of course, this typical performance will tend to prove Joe's point, but it's not the Classical Oration that you have tried to postulate.

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, John, let's just say that the muted mikes worked. They worked very well, actually. And, there weren't really any closing arguments to speak of.

    Biden turned in his usual fine debate performance.

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