In an op-ed for the New York Times this Tuesday, Ross Douthat says that the Trump administration is beginning to see the writing on the wall as Election Day grows closer.
According to Douthat, Trump's 2020 campaign "has been stuck toggling back and forth between two very different narratives."
"One seeks to replay the last campaign, portraying Joe Biden as the embodiment of a failed establishment (hence all the references to his 47 years in Washington) who will sell out American interests to China as soon as he’s back in power," he writes.
The other is Trump's insistence in running against Joe Biden as if he's Bernie Sanders. While a skilled campaigner could have weaved these narratives together, their contradictions are more obvious when coming from Trump. "The resulting incoherence just feeds his tendency to return to old grudges and very online grievances, as though he’s running for the presidency of talk radio or his own Twitter feed," writes Douthat.
As Douthat points out, there are two main issues facing voters in November: the pandemic and the economy. While the obvious strategy would be to push more relief money into the economy while creating the image that he's taking the virus seriously, Trump is taking the opposite approach.
"...the retreat to corona-minimizing is a case study in how the Trump of 2020 has ceded his biggest general-election advantage from 2016 — his relative distance from the ideological rigidities of the anti-government right — and locked himself into a small box with flatterers and cranks."
Read his full op-ed over at The New York Times.