What usually happens during a presidential election is that the candidates articulate their vision for the country and back that up with a series of proposals outlining what they would do if elected. On the Democratic side, that is exactly what Joe Biden has done. You can go to his website and see the list of issues he wants to address and how he proposes to do so.
Donald Trump has no such list. His campaign website is nothing more than a place to buy merchandise and contribute money. Other than slogans like “Keep America Great” printed on the items for sale, it says nothing about what the president wants to accomplish during a second term.
To demonstrate what Trump is focused on these days, Gabriel Sherman reports that the president isn’t happy with his campaign team.
During a week when America’s COVID-19 death toll approached 90,000, Trump allies floated smears that Biden was a tool of China, an invalid eating from a spoon, and even a pedophile, none of which caused damage. Sources close to Trump said the president has vented to friends about the lack of focused firepower coming out of the campaign. “There is deep frustration that there is no overarching message,” an unofficial campaign adviser told me… According to sources, Trump believes the answer to the message weakness is to declare all-out war on Biden’s former boss: Barack Obama.
Apparently Trump is so determined to “declare all-out war” on Obama that he is thinking about breaking up with loyalist Senator Lindsey Graham.
Trump has been leaning on powerful Republicans to join his war on Obama, sources told me. Last Thursday, Trump tweeted at Senate Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham, saying that Graham needed to call Obama to testify at hearings on Michael Flynn’s unmasking and the origin of the Russia probe. Graham rejected the request. “Trump thinks Lindsey isn’t doing anything on Flynn,” a former White House official said. According to the former official, Trump recently asked prominent allies to tweet negative things about Graham, and he has been complaining that Graham is a hanger-on. “Trump has said, ‘Since [John] McCain died, Lindsey follows me around and shows up to play golf and I don’t even invite him,’” according to the source briefed on the conversation.
It is becoming clear that Trump and his campaign can’t agree on who to attack—the Democratic nominee or the president’s predecessor. But beyond that, what all of this signifies is that the president doesn’t have a platform of issues that he wants to run on. His plan for re-election is focused entirely on motivating his base by attacking his enemies.
The deeper issue at play here is that Donald Trump doesn’t really want to be president. For quite a while now we’ve known that he spends very little of his time addressing the issues we face as Americans. Instead, he devotes most of his day to watching Fox News and rage-tweeting.
When it comes to the election in November, Tony Schwartz captured the one thing that drives everything Trump does.
To survive, I concluded from our conversations, Trump felt compelled to go to war with the world. It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it… Trump grew up fighting for his life and taking no prisoners. In countless conversations, he made clear to me that he treated every encounter as a contest he had to win, because the only other option from his perspective was to lose, and that was the equivalent of obliteration.
The president is petrified of the obliteration he associates with losing. That’s why Trump has no plan for what he would do if re-elected. He doesn’t really want to be president—he simply wants to win.