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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Why won’t Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden answer the simple question about whether he is in favor or opposed to packing the Supreme Court?

His team believes he shouldn’t answer the question because it would open up the remainder of the slightly crazed, poorly thought-out wish list from the left to more scrutiny than it can bear currently. Statehood for Puerto Rico? Yep. A $4 trillion tax increase? Absolutely.


Getting rid of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, on public lands and fossil fuels in general? Yes and yes. A $90 trillion Green New Deal that would make California’s electricity system and forest management look like success stories? Heck, yeah.

Open borders? Yes. A public “option” for health care? As soon as the opportunity presents itself. Letting Iran up off the canvas? Yes.

The problem is that once you start answering questions, it becomes very difficult to stop. The media has a bottomless appetite.

What the Biden crew fails to understand is that it doesn’t matter whether they answer the question about packing the Supreme Court or not, beyond saying he isn’t “a fan” of the strategy. Their opponent has an irresistible urge to make everything about himself. Even if Mr. Biden cops to wanting to expand the Supreme Court to 13 or 301 justices, no one would be able to make much of it because President Trump would no doubt pick that moment to talk, tweet or otherwise step on the story.

In short, Mr. Biden can say and has said pretty much say whatever he wants with impunity because Mr. Trump will always find a way to make the narrative about himself.

That is an advantage for Mr. Biden at the moment. Unfortunately, in the event that Mr. Biden should win, Mr. Trump would no longer be quite as visible (more on that later) and would be incapable of hijacking the entire narrative.

Without the distraction provided by Mr. Trump, a President Biden would be compelled to face the media and public on his own. All of his failings — emotional, mental, physical and ideological — would become grist for the media mill. Moreover, he would have to expose his own beliefs in unpopular ideas — such as packing the Supreme Court or raising taxes in a recession.

We are seeing some of that now in the media’s insistence that he answer their questions. They are trying to let him know that his free pass from them is about to expire.

By running a campaign that has steadfastly been about nothing, and focused almost entirely on saying nothing, Mr. Biden has set himself up for more or less immediate failure if he is elected president.

So, in a larger sense, it doesn’t matter if he answers the questions about packing the Supreme Court, or statehood, or open borders, or showing love to Iran, or whatever. He eventually would have to eventually answer all of those questions. If he gets around to those answers only after he takes office, he would own all of it and bear all the burden of condemnation from whichever side he disappoints, without any sort of cover from Mr. Trump’s verbal tic of talking all the time.

It would be a rude awakening for him.

• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.


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