Democratic presidential candidate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak to local residents during a bus tour stop at Water’s Edge Nature Center, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in Algona, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
A little over a week after the Trump campaign released a hard-hitting ad blasting Joe Biden for his and his son Hunter’s troubling China ties, the Biden campaign has responded by releasing one of their own, which makes some dubious media-driven claims about Trump’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak and his complicated relationship with China’s president Xi Jinping:
Donald Trump left our country unprepared and unprotected for the worst public health and economic crisis in our lifetime — and now we're paying the price. pic.twitter.com/aCxcqQqUqw
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 18, 2020
But unfortunately for Joe Biden, the ad has backfired spectacularly. Not just with the conservatives and Republicans who would understandably question what’s being alleged in the ad, but also among Democrats who are criticizing him by using the same “xenophobic” attack line Biden himself used on Trump after he implemented China travel restrictions in late January:
The ad, while praised among Biden supporters, was widely-criticized among left-leaning journalists and Twitter users.
The Intercept editor Glenn Greenwald suggested that the Democrats who previously denounced Trump’s rhetoric towards China as “racist” are now cheering on the same sentiment.
“Trump’s response to COVID-19 has been inept and self-serving, but wow this is some xenophobic messaging…” progressive journalist Walker Bragman reacted.
“It’s exhausting how people are praising a dog-whistling ad that leans on yellow peril narratives but I guess that’s what you have to do when your candidate has no intention of fixing the structural problems that got us into this mess to begin with,” Vulture senior writer E. Alex Jung wrote.
“Wow @JoeBiden. Already trying to out-Trump Trump. This kind of fearmongering is causing violent attacks on Asian Americans. If you are trying to reform your past history of racist policymaking, like your 1994 crime bill, you had better do some homework. This ain’t it,” civil rights lawyer Cecelia Wang tweeted.
There’s plenty more where that came from, too:
As a Chinese American who plans to vote for Biden, I find this ad dangerous to people like me. It doesn’t distinguish between “the Chinese“ and “China’s government“ in highlighting Trump’s praise.
— socially distant Tippi (@TrashFireT) April 18, 2020
After finally seeing Biden’s insane China-hawk ad I believe even more strongly than I did before that all talk of the Left being able to by some means influence Biden’s campaign is pointless. Biden is going to run a conservative campaign, this is a foregone conclusion
— Meagan Day (@meaganmday) April 19, 2020
Joe Biden is now running an ad saying Trump likes and trusts China too much. That ad would never exist if the outbreak started in England. In other words, he is now attacking Trump from the right on racism, xenophobia, and nationalism.
Remind me again why we should vote for him?
— Existential Comics (@existentialcoms) April 20, 2020
China-bashing ads by both Trump and Biden campaigns are not helpful either. They promote racism and xenophobia against Asian Americans, who were also critical of China's mishandling of #coronavirus pandemic but now find themselves unfairly blamed for #covid19. https://t.co/gKSA6QKUmo
— 𝖠𝗌𝗂𝖺𝗇 𝖠𝗆𝖾𝗋𝗂𝖼𝖺𝗇 𝖫𝖾𝗀𝖺𝗅 (@aaldef) April 19, 2020
Being accused of xenophobia doesn’t feel too good, does it, Joe Biden? Karma, buddy. Karma.
Beyond the outrage from the left over the ad, there were some problematic claims in it, as Joel Pollak pointed out here:
Aside from Biden's deep (and corrupt) ties to China, this ad fails to mention Biden's opposition to the travel ban, and pretends Trump wasn't trying to get the CDC into China. Also presents events in January as if they happened after events in late February. Total fraud by Biden. https://t.co/a0IaDYIOrT
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) April 19, 2020
While the ad is being criticized by people on both the left and the right, another thing it does do in Trump’s favor is show that Joe Biden has accepted the terms Trump has set up for the debate on China: That they can’t be trusted, and that they lied to the world about the Wuhan coronavirus.
This is a debate that is likely to not go well for Biden for a lot of reasons, but only time will tell on that front.