For those who suspected the US President cares for nobody but himself, all doubt has now been erased. In an interview with Reuters last Wednesday, he blamed China for his diabolical polling and says Beijing “will do anything they can” to see he loses the race. Tone deaf much? By November, there will be 2-3 million infected and at least 100,000 dead, but screw that, it’s all about Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. No wonder it’s only the rabid extremists at the far right-wing of his supporter base that aren’t having misgivings about his performance. And let’s face it, neo-Nazis and fundamentalist Christians won’t win him the vote no matter how he rigs it.
But China-blaming is problematic for Trump, because he needs Xi Jinping in his corner to kickstart the US economy. He knows an economic bounce quick on the heels of his Make America Work Again campaign will be his ticket to success, but he can’t achieve that without profitable trade relations with China. Emperor Xi has him over a barrel. Maybe that explains Trump’s reticence in publicly joining Australia’s call for a COVID-19 investigation into China’s culpability. Instead, Trump whines about his dismal ratings, and mutters sulkily about making the PRC pay. The Mexicans didn’t pay for Trump’s wall, nor will Beijing pay America’s medical bills. As I’ve said before, China created the virus, but Trump is to blame for letting it spread.
So what can we expect? A vicious anti-China campaign; not just the dog-whistle politics we know and love, but a concerted push to demonise Biden as ‘soft on China’ and outright denial that Trump ever said or did anything that might be characterised the same. We know this with certainty because the Republican’s one-note campaign plan was leaked (here) and can be summarised in a single entence: blame China for everything, and hope to God nobody notices our incompetence. This will appeal to some, but I say again, neo-Nazi’s and Christian fundamentalists will not win the election for him no matter how he rigs it.
While one Communist state might enjoy seeing the US displaced, its matriarch may not approve. Especially given how hard it was for the Russians to get Trump elected in the first place. Therein arises a fascinating dynamic. You won’t get better examples of the modern cult of personality than Putin and Xi. While Trump is a muppet to many of us, he’s a puppet to these men. I’ve always wondered what they call the room in the heart of the Forbidden City where Xi receives his soul-brother. That silent space surrounded by a nightingale floor where they’re carving the world between them? It would aggravate Vladdy no end that he’s not the dominant player in this alliance, but I have no doubt he’ll make his moves like a grandmaster, sacrificing where he must. But is Trump a king, or a pawn?
Personally, I don’t think it advances the interests of China or the Soviets for Trump to be displaced by a Democrat. While I’d love to see him thrashed into obscurity like the cowardly hyena he is, by fair means or (most likley) foul, he may yet prevail. I was wrong last time because I believed the candidate who gets the most votes wins. Not well-versed in the bullshittery of the Electoral College system, I’ve educated myself a bit more since then, and while I hope that anger, disgust and grief will motivate enough Americans to cast this evil man from the parapets, if China makes a show of cowing to Trump and provides him with the stimulus to reignite the US economy, then brace yourself for four more years of this.
I suspect we’re on the brink of interesting times. It sure wouldn’t hurt to remember as you’re gorging on the prolefeed via @realdonaldtrump, that somebody is about to reject our reality and substitute their own.