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Trump Needs a Villain to Demonize, and Joe Biden Aint It

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Batman needs the Joker, the Yankees need the Red Sox, and Donald Trump desperately needs another Hillary Clinton. But nobody hates Joe Biden.

JIm Watson/Getty

Hes got 99 problems, but this one strikes me as the most fundamental: Its impossible for Donald Trump to demonize Joe Biden.

ishonest No.232 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

No.232 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

Indeed, he should stop trying to make fetch happen. But I understand why hes reluctant to do so.

Unable (or unwilling) to appeal to voters outside his 40 percent-plus base (and lacking a strong third-party candidate to siphon some votes), the only tool left in Trumps toolbox involves dragging down his opponent. (OK, theres also voter suppression and the Kremlin, but Im talking about legitimate tools.)

But what do you do when said opponent wont cooperate with his own vilification?

In 2016, Hillary Clinton was the perfect foil, and Trump won big among people who disliked them both. This time around, Biden is winning with people who dont like either candidate.

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So why is Biden so hard to hate? Like Trump, Biden is an established brand with near 100 percent name recognition. We have lived with Biden for decades, and not just as a reality TV star. If he were going to do something either crazily radical or insanely corrupt, we figure, he would have done it already. Theyve thrown everything but the kitchen sink at him, but it has proven almost impossible to begrime the Biden brand.

Like Trump, Biden also benefits from the soft bigotry of low expectations. Mistakes that might sink another politician are chalked up to just Joe being Joe. In short, hes Teflon.

While were talking about double-standards, Biden probably also benefits from being an old white guy. Its harder for Trump to otherize him. Its harder for Trump to fearmonger him. While Biden appeals to African-Americans of a certain age (as demonstrated in the primaries), he doesnt scare Earl and Gertrude down the street.

But its not just race or sex. Biden also exudes an authentic working-class vibe. Hes comfortable in his skin. You cant teach that.

ishonest No.172 - Pre-Sun Exposure

No.172 - Pre-Sun Exposure

To be sure, there are plenty of white male candidates who could be mercilessly mocked, emasculated, and dominated by Trump (see the 2016 GOP primary). Unlike, say, Jeb Bush, though, Biden doesnt have to worry about competing with Trump in a universe where only Republican primary voters have a say. But thats not the only thing that makes Biden a uniquely tough adversary for Trump.

Have you ever noticed how bullies can immediately sniff out which middle- school victims to terrorize? Im not sure what it is about Bidenit could be a combination of his physical size, the alpha-dog swagger that comes from being at the highest levels of politics for decades, or those dark aviator shades he favorsbut he doesnt look like a guy who can be pushed around.

If Biden cant be pushed around, he cant be pushed to the left. As Trump admitted Saturday night in Oklahoma, Biden is also not radical left.

I dont think he knows what he is anymore, Trump continued, but he was never radical left, but hes controlled by the radical left

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Unable to cast Biden as out of the mainstream, Trump is instead forced to suggest that Biden will be a puppet of the left.

Will it work? In politics, if youre explaining, youre losing. It strikes me that there are too many degrees of separation for this attack to really resonate. And judging by the applause and visceral bloodlust coming from the Tulsa crowd when he referenced names like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar, juxtaposed with the crickets chirping that references to Biden elicited, Trump has his work cut out for him.

A more exciting and revolutionary Democrat probably wouldnt be dominating the polls like Biden. For Trump, who thrives on excitement and attention, being boring is akin to an unpardonable sin. For Biden, being boring is, ironically, a superpower.

The suggestion that Biden will be a puppet of the left is also contingent on the narrative that says Sleepy Joe has lost more than just a step. But this is undermined by the fact that Biden hasnt seemed especially sleepy, of late, and that Trump is the one who is seemingly unable to walk down a slippery ramp or hold a bottle of water in one hand.

Read more on: thedailybeast, villain, aint

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