How Biden Is (Mostly) Staying Home and Still Winning the Campaign

He’s not hiding in a bunker. He’s doing what’s safest for him—and the country.

I get annoyed when the media perpetuate the idea that Joe Biden is hiding in his “basement” or his “cellar” or a “bunker.” He’s a 77-year-old man living in the midst of a global pandemic that targets the elderly and takes their lives. What Biden is doing is spending most of his time at his rather nice suburban home. It’s safer for him but also for his staff and his security detail.

But, as annoying as this narrative is, it’s Trump who carries the #BunkerBoy hashtag around like an anvil. That too, is unfair, since the right thing to do when the Secret Service asks you to head for the bomb shelter is to head for the bomb shelter.

Marc Caputo and Christopher Cadelago of Politico say that Democrats are “warming” to Biden’s “bunker strategy.” It would be a lot more accurate to say that Democrats have noticed that Biden is surging to a gigantic lead in both the national and the battleground polls. It’s possible to find cranks who insist he should be leading by more, but when the headlines say Biden is ahead by eleven points in Wisconsin and nine in North Carolina, it’s hard to be a convincing critic of his strategy.

There isn’t much to question anyway. He could have followed the Andrew Cuomo model and held dueling press conferences with the president, but that was a terrible idea and was rejected for obvious reasons. Biden doesn’t have access to all the data and cannot command the appearance of Anthony Fauci or Deborah Birx. Conducting a press conference by Zoom is never going to look as good as an appearance at the White House. Unlike Cuomo, Biden can’t actually make any command decisions, so all he’d be doing is trolling the president. Besides, Trump’s coronavirus briefings were completely self-injurious, and why would Biden want to distract attention from them?

It’s an article of faith on the right and among Trump’s campaign strategists that Biden is past his sell-by date and will make verbal gaffes and otherwise show his age if he spends more time talking to the press. But it’s Trump who struggles to drink a glass of water and walk down a slight incline in leather-soled shoes. Biden hasn’t suggested that we nuke a hurricane or publicly pondered why antibiotics won’t kill a virus. Everything Trump does seems to backfire, and all the bad things he wants people to believe about Biden, they are increasingly believing about him.

Biden isn’t hiding in a bunker, but he’s winning this campaign. Of course Democrats are okay with that.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com