Biden and the Rope-A-Dope Defense

Are you excited about Joe Biden? No, me either.

Don’t get me wrong — he seems like a nice guy, someone I’d enjoy having lunch or a few beers with. He has lots of government experience, and he comes across as the calm eye in a Trumpian hurricane.

If you’re as old as I am and a sports fan, you may remember boxing champion Muhammad Ali’s “rope-a-dope” defense, used most famously against George Foreman in the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle.” Early in the fight, Ali simply lay back against the ropes, kept his hands up to protect his face and body, and allowed Foreman to pound away on him while the elasticity of the ropes absorbed much of the impact. After a few rounds of this, Foreman became almost too tired to hold his own hands up, and Ali knocked him out in the eighth round.

That seems to be the tactic Biden is using against Trump. As the time before the presidential election grows short and the odds against Trump grow longer, the incumbent is becoming more and more and manic and outrageous (“Kamala Harris is a monster!” “Bill Barr needs to have my opponent arrested!”) Biden, meanwhile, just keeps a low profile and lets Trump punch himself out. It’s almost too easy.

To be fair, Biden has some groundbreaking — even semi-audacious — ideas listed on his website. Out on the campaign trail, however, what we seem to be hearing from him is essentially, “My opponent is crazy, and I’m not. And by the way, he totally mishandled the coronavirus pandemic.”

This could earn him the presidency, but then what? Trump will leave the Oval office (eventually), and the virus will ultimately be contained. But Biden hasn’t done much to publicly promote the ideas on his website to voters, possibly for fear of alienating middle-of-the-road moderates, so he will have to start from ground zero comes to trying to implement them.

Of course, there are very few middle-of-the-road moderates left this time around — a pizza delivery man could be heading up the Democratic ticket without changing the demographics all that much. The question before the voters is basically this: More Trump or no more Trump.

Yet every four years, politicians and the media tell us what the primary issues in the presidential campaign should be. This time around, it’s Donald Trump, the virus, and healthcare, with the latest Supreme Court nomination thrown in at the margins. Yet once again, some important things aren’t being talked about very much, if at all. Such as:

The erosion of our democracy. We’ve come to a place where Congress enthusiastically passes measures that 60 percent of the voters oppose. Supreme Court justices vow to strike down laws not because they are unconstitutional but simply because they don’t like them. Thanks to the seniority system, a cadre of grumpy senior citizens in Congress calls all the shots. The Electoral College is still hanging around, even though it no longer makes sense.

Climate change. Can’t we stop treating this as a political issue? We need to find if it’s real, how much of it stems from human activity, and the best way to combat it while giving all sides with a stake in the discussion a seat at the table.

Health care. Our healthcare system is in disarray, and not just because of the virus. If you’ve ever tried to find a place for someone in a nursing home, you’ve probably encountered a Medicaid application littered with financial land mines. In New York, where I live, the average nursing home costs $100,00 a year, but I’ve never heard a presidential candidate talk about this (I have a 96-year-old mother, so this is personal).

Guns are out of control. The current “open carry” laws, no doubt passed to appease the NRA crowd, are lunacy. I’m all for the right to keep and bear arms, but that doesn’t make me feel good about armed and angry people stalking around in public with high-powered weapons, spouting political slogans. Somehow, I don’t think the framers of the Second Amendment envisioned allowing someone to walk into a bar carrying an AR-15.

And so on –I’m sure you have your own list. Maybe those of us who simply watch from the sidelines every four years need to get in the game.

The first half of Darrell Laurant’s new book, “What Holds Us Back,” can be read for free on the Website blessedbetheundiscovered.com.

* Notes from the executive team: Darrell has been a regular correspondent for the Commoner since the organization’s founding. We encourage our readers to download his new book before the election. The book provides insights into the American political system and American culture, so it will be a valuable resource to any voter in 2020. What Holds Us Back is free to download and it is an incredibly informative read. *

Darrell Laurant
Founder at | + posts

Darrell Laurant is a veteran journalist who previously worked at the News & Advance (Lynchburg). He published over 7,000 pieces in three decades. Darrell has covered papal visits, the Olympics, American sports, and political issues in Virginia. He has also written a variety of books, including "Inspiration Street: Two City Blocks that Helped Change America."

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