Leftist Robert Reich Says He's 'Worried' About Biden Debating Trump. He's Absolutely Right.

AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez

The year 2016 called and it wants its whiny op-ed about former President Donald Trump back. Leftist author Robert Reich wrote an op-ed in which he expressed fears over the upcoming debate between Trump and President Joe Biden.

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His fears are 100 percent valid, and he is likely speaking for many on the left with the possibility of the Orange Man What Is Bad™ winning the election looming large over 2024.

In the piece, Reich said he is “less worried that Joe Biden will suffer a mental lapse or physically stumble than I am that Biden will look weak and Donald Trump appear strong.”

One of Trump’s most successful ploys has been to frame the upcoming election as a contest between strength and weakness, and to convince many Americans that stridency and pugnacity are signs of strength while truth and humility signal weakness.

Reich then started caterwauling about character, which is yet another relic of the 2016 race. He savaged multiple Republican figures, accusing them of opportunistic fearmongering.

Which brings me back to character. Over 78 years, I’ve met or observed a small number of people in American public life whom I’d characterize as vile. Senator Joseph McCarthy, Governor George Wallace and Speaker Newt Gingrich come immediately to mind, along with Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes.

What made them vile to me was their cynical opportunism – the eagerness with which they exploited people’s fears to gain power or notoriety, or both. All had the character of barnyard bullies.

Donald Trump is the vilest by far.

Trump’s loathsomeness extends to every aspect of his being – his continuous stream of lies, the eagerness with which he seeks to turn Americans against each other, his scapegoating of immigrants, his demeaning of women and the disabled.

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Here’s the thing: You can’t bash conservatives for being fearmongers while ignoring the fact that Democrats are claiming the country will be destroyed if Trump wins. They took fearmongering to another level during this election cycle – claiming that he is a “threat to democracy.” 

Some journalists have even pretended to be afraid that Trump will target their jobs if he is elected. MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace literally speculated that if Trump wins, he will destroy the free press and she would be taken off the air:

The bottom line is fear is a part of politics and has been since the beginning of time. This is not some new phenomenon. Reich is 78 years old, which means he is fully aware of this. Yet, his partisan blinders will not allow him to see it.

However, when it comes to his fears over the debate, he is spot on. Despite both men being elderly, it is clear which contestant has the most vigor and which one struggles to remember what day it is.

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President Biden would have to pull off quite a miracle to come out of Thursday’s debate looking better than he does now. He projects anything but strength or confidence. However, Reich appears to be taking the wrong message from this.

In the piece, he recounted a conversation with a young conservative, in which Reich said the conservative argued that America needs an “odious thug” like Trump to stand up to the other “odious thugs” running other countries.

“Think of Putin, Xi, Kim, Ali Khamenei, Netanyahu – they’re all odious thugs,” he said. “We need our own odious thug to stand up to them.”

I demurred, saying that direct confrontation could lead to more bloodshed, even nuclear war.

He continued: “We need an odious thug to shake up Washington, stir up all the ossified bureaucracies now destroying America, do all the things no one has had the balls to do.”

When I looked skeptical, he charged: “We need someone to take control!”

As soon as he uttered those last words, he and I both knew the conversation was over. He had spilled the beans. He was impatient with the messiness and slowness of democracy. He wanted a dictator.

I’m not sure how many Americans attracted to Trump feel this way. It’s consistent with the strength-versus-weakness framework Trump is deploying.

Trump may be loathsome, they tell themselves, but at least he’s strong, and we need strength over weakness.

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This passage sounds an awful lot like opportunistic fearmongering, does it not? But contrary to Reich’s comments, most of Trump’s supporters are not looking for a dictator. They are looking for someone who can project strength on the world stage while addressing the problems Biden has failed, or refused, to solve.

It is for this reason that Trump showing strength during the debate is so dangerous for his opponent, who will be lucky if he can get through the proceedings without a gaffe or wandering off the stage.

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