So after almost four years of bullshit, braggadocio and complete lies about Trump’s ability to make deals, today we learn that the governments of China and Iran are about to conclude a deal that could possibly remake the economic and military balance of the entire globe.
What China gets is preferential toeholds in various sectors of the Iranian economy – banking, telecommunications, infrastructure facilities – minor economic sectors like that. What Iran gets is a guaranteed market for oil exports for the next 25 years. The agreement will also initiate – ready? – joint military exercises covering training, weapons development, and intelligence-sharing.
Last week our fearless leader let it be known that any real trade deal with China was ‘dead.’ As for Iran, the so-called ‘maximum pressure’ strategy to force Iran to abandon its so-called nuclear strategy has achieved nothing at all. No, I take that back. What Trump has managed to do all by himself is help Iran see that its future lies with China, not with us.
Incidentally, if you want to see how and why our approach to both Iran and China have been so wrong, there’s a chapter about each country in John Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened. And what Bolton explains is how much Trump’s deal-making prowess did nothing to advance any kind of coherent foreign-policy strategy because there is no strategy.
The lack of any coherent plan is what explains the worsening numbers of Covid-19 infections in at least 34 states since the beginning of July. And by the way, 12 states are reporting double-digit infection rates (that’s not raw numbers, that’s rates) which is not because these states are doing more testing, it’s because the virus continues to spread.
Trump has ‘solved’ this problem by avoiding any discussions with the country’s chief infectious-disease expert, Anthony Fauci, since early June. When asked how come Fauci is no longer being consulted by the White House, here was Trump’s response: “Fauci’s a very nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes.” Fauci’s made mistakes?
Here’s the good news. Imagine if the virus had started spreading not in 2020, but in 2019. Imagine if right now we had to wait another 16 months to throw Trump out on his fat ass. Imagine how many more big deals Trump could screw up between now and then.
Here’s the better news. The national polling aggregated by RCP has Biden leading Trump by 9 points, the widest gap this year. Nate Silver has Biden ahead by 9.6 points, also the widest gap this year. Right now Trump leads Biden by 14 points in Alabama. Sounds impressive, right? In 2016, Trump took Alabama by – ready? – 28 points! Even in a dependable red state like Alabama, Trump’s numbers have been cut in half.
The Alabama numbers remind us to look at state-by-state totals because it’s the magic 270 number of electoral votes that really counts. Right now, Biden has 195 EV’s that he can’t lose no matter what; Trump’s safe EV number is 111, believe it or not. Biden has another 77 EV’s from states rated as ‘likely’ or ‘leaning,’ all the remaining 155 EV’s represent ‘toss-up’ states. Even if Trump won every, single toss-up state, and right now he’s trailing slightly in at least in 5 of those 11 states, Biden still ends up with 272 Electoral votes. Incidentally, 3 toss-up states – Georgia, Florida, Texas – are experiencing massive increases in Covid-19 rates.
As of yesterday, Florida confirmed 4,197 viral deaths. If the state continues its current no-lockdown policy without any change, the MIT Sloan-Analytic model finds that 50,000 Floridians will be dead by election time. Maybe Trump’s November strategy is based on the idea that everyone who catches the Covid-19 virus would have voted against him anyway. After all, he believes that wearing a mask is primarily to demonstrate that you’re against him.
You have to admit that Trump’s election strategy is a new and novel approach. But isn’t this what we should expect from a guy who wrote the book on how to make a deal?