Karl Rove has advised Trump that he is late going negative on Biden. Some Trump aides (eg. Kellyanne Conway) reportedly disagree — they argue for laying off Biden during the pandemic. This is a false choice! Alert kausfiles reader MG has what seems a better idea. Go negative on Biden's VP pick. Before that person has been chosen. The gist of the campaign, in MG’s words (slightly modified by me) would be something like:
Joe Biden is not mentally competent. I’m really running against (Kamala/Amy). At the right time, Joe will have to step down. Or they will find one more Tara Reade and force him out. Voters should be able to choose (Kamala/Amy) or me.
This would have a number of virtues, from Trump's point of view (in addition to the gratuitous virtue of possibly being true):
1) It would highlight Biden's weakness without otherwise attacking his integrity or character. Nothing more emasculating than being ignored.
2) It would force Democrats to rally around Biden, thereby assuring that he -- and not a stronger candidate -- will actually be Trump's opponent.
3) It could put the focus on the larger Democratic party of which Biden’s a part — and on the unpopular Democratic party positions Biden would inevitably carry into power, from woke madness to loose borders to race preferences to support for a $72,000 a year (for a family of 3) no-strings cash dole (UBI) even after the pandemic ends.
4) It lets Trump pick and choose the VP candidates to attack and on what grounds -- Stacey Abrams, currently being worshipped in the press, is one easy target (her possible selection tacitly raises the race-preference issue — and, like Beto, she lost a state-wide race and decided that meant she’s ready to be president). Kamala Harris (Bring Back Busing! Even Democratic primary voters got a good look at her and decided they didn’t like her)? Amy Klobuchar (secretly mean, pro-amnesty, ready to be America’s assemblywoman)? Etc. .
4) It could dramatically complicate Biden's selection process -- maybe even giving Trump a bit of control over who Biden's choice is. If Trump attacks someone effectively, that could discourage Biden from picking them. If he attacks someone ineffectively, that might elevate their profile and give them a boost ...
The strategy seems so obvious now I’m annoyed I didn’t think of it.
GAP U: I was talking with a friend whose daughter, a senior in high school, was trying to pick her college. Does she even want to go next year? Even if the colleges reopen, the experience will almost certainly be degraded. At worst, her parents will be charged full tuition for a bunch of courses taught entirely online. Seems like a good time for her to take a "gap year"--the walkabout break originally designed to let kids find themselves but now rutinized as party of the admissions process.
I suspect there are many high school seniors -- and parents -- in the same boat. Their kids are about to take gap years that are, realistically, entirely caused by the pandemic. A gap year explosion. Which raises the issue: What to do in that year? Just waste it? How do you make sure that whatever skills were learned in high school don't atrophy? Who’s going to teach you? You've already graduated high school. Your parents are sick of home schooling.
Here’s the oppportunity in this crisis: Gap Year University. An instant institution, entirely online, created by a consortium of colleges and designed to let kids learn during this otherwise lost year. Collect good lecturers and volunteer teachers. Stick to the basics you'd want freshmen in college to learn (or have learned before they show up): Math, Philosophy, Physics, the equivalent of Columbia University's famous “Contemporary Civilization” curriculum.
How would this be different from the Khan Academy, which already offers a variety of online courses? In concept, it wouldn’t be. But it would have been set up by the universities these students were planning to attend, and represent what those universities think their students should bring to campus when they (finally) arrive. Because of this pedigree (and implied threat!) there’d be a greater chance students would actually participate.
Because Gap U. would be on the Web, there's no reason to charge more than a couple hundred bucks. No need for grades--maybe a pass fail certificate if a student wanted it. Gap U could be invisible to the the meritocracy. Nobody's life would be changed by their scores or class rank. No sorting. The kids would already have been sorted — i.e. they’ve gotten into this college or that. It would also, one hopes, be relatively invisible to the forces of both academic specialization and political correctness, which seek to substitute professorial specialties and gender studies for the basics. There’s a crisis, after all. Plenty of time for gender studies when college actually starts.
When (if) the pandemic fades enough for colleges to get back to near-normal, Gap U could disappear like Brigadoon. This would eliminate the sinister possibility that it would threaten the status quo by doing its job too well.
Esprit de Bob: I gave a … less than complete answer on bloggingheads.tv when Bob Wright asked me if the pandemic hadn’t given the lie to my hopes for preserving social equality (in the middle of rising income inequality). After all, rich people are hiving off with their laptops while regular workers have to do their jobs and risk getting sick, etc. . A fuller answer is 1) The test of social equality — at least my test — is whether we are “equal in the eyes of each other,” as Reagan put it; 2) Sure, the extra covid segregation (on top of any pre-existing “secession of the successful”) increases the risk that this traditional American sense will erode; 3) But the pandemic will end, and it creates a countervailing pro-equality imperative, namely that we’re all terrified of getting the virus; 4) I do not sense that rich Americans in their bubbles are looking at “essential workers” — or, for that matter, non-essential workers like gardeners and home improvement contractors — and seeing them as more unequal. Or that those on the other end are feeling somehow subservient. On the contrary, the people who still have to go to work, and who do so, are publicly and privately celebrated as heroes. The affluent (along with everyone else) need them and they know it.
(That doesn’t mean there’s no resentment. Resentment is something else. Millennials resent Boomers — but that doesn’t mean there’s less social equality. On the contrary, the Millennial beef is that they’re social equals, but getting screwed.)
Pictures at A Degradation: This is — or, rather, was — the parking lot of Rancho Park, a big, popular municipal park in mostly prosperous West LA. It's now completely filled with RV trailers as far as the eye can see. This is one of the places where they’re now trying to put the homeless. Plenty that could go wrong — e.g. the RV village could become a nursing-home like center of infection in the middle of a highly populated area. Meanwhile, they’ve degraded an important public space used by rich and poor. It’s not clear when the camp will be dismantled.