If Donald Trump is going to defeat Joe Biden he’s going to have to define Joe Biden. It’s not looking good right now.
It’s forgotten now, but there was a time when some of the crazier right-wing types thought President Dwight Eisenhower was a Soviet agent. The idea was popularized by the John Birch Society, which was sort of the QAnon of its day. When asked about this nutty theory, Russell Kirk, a renowned conservative intellectual, famously responded, “Ike’s not a communist, he’s a golfer.”
In fairness to Ike, he was also one of the most successful military leaders in world history, successfully overseeing the invasion of Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany, among other resume highlights. But Kirk’s quip captured the otherworldliness of the idea that President Eisenhower—who worked assiduously to fortify the NATO alliance against the Soviet Union—was really a pawn of Stalin.
We’re in a somewhat similar moment these days. The Trump campaign recently released an ad claiming that Joe Biden was “Endorsed by Osama Bin Laden.” Put aside the fact that Bin Laden was unavailable for comment since he’s been dead for a while—killed on the orders of the Obama administration in which Biden served. The Trump campaign’s defense of the ad revolves around the fact that bin Laden apparently thought it would be good if al-Qaeda could kill Obama, putting Biden in charge.