by Paul Moomjean
With only two months left until the 2020 U.S. presidential election, may we all prepare for the inevitable “October Surprise.” For those not up to par with political conspiracy theory lingo, an October Surprise is when a major revelation about a candidate or a major event takes place to sway an election. In 1980, many believed President Ronald Reagan’s people kept the 66 Iranian hostages captured until after the election, and in turn we provided them with weapons. In 2000, George W. Bush’s drunk-driving history magically showed up. In the 2012 election, Mitt Romney’s May speech about 47 percent of the country not paying federal taxes showed up in September, and of course in 2016 we got two whammies: Hillary Clinton’s email case being reopened by the FBI and President Trump’s “grab them by the p—y” leaked tape. With Labor Day behind us and the world ahead of us, what could possibly happen in the next six to eight weeks? My guess is Trump’s former lawyer and advisor Michael Cohen might know what we don’t.
Cohen is a rat, make no mistake. While other slimeballs like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn went down with some type of honor among thieves (Flynn was eventually exonerated), they didn’t try to take down the world with them. Cohen squealed like a pig. But the squealing rat-pig is still a man with particular insight into the game show host turned Commander in Chief.
After speaking to NBC, Cohen said, “…Donald Trump will do anything and everything within which to win. And I believe that includes manipulating the ballots.” Cohen also added, “I believe that he would even go so far as to start a war in order to prevent himself from being removed from office. My biggest fear is that there will not be a peaceful transition of power in 2020.”
While this theory completely contradicts the Trump Doctrine of no useless wars, the man who once paid porn stars to stay quiet about sexual encounters with the thrice-married man does know Trump’s playbook. After recently bragging that he stopped wars with North Korea, Trump could pull a “wag the dog,” and make it possible that the American people wouldn’t want to send a senile Joe Biden and relatively inexperienced Kamala Harris into the heart of a new American war.
All of this seems far fetched, but in a 2020 that brought everything from killer Asian hornets to eating outside in parking lots to prevent COVID-19, anything is possible. What we have learned about Trump is that he is impervious to scandal. No one is shocked by his bad behavior. Even with the fall of evangelical darling Jerry Falwell, Jr., do not expect the white evangelical base to depart with the possibility of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Clarence Thomas stepping down soon, creating a possible reversal of <em>Roe v. Wade.</em> Therefore, any “October Surprise” against Trump will fall on deaf ears.
With Trump trailing in swing states, he needs a way to rebuild his brand. That’s where he is shrewder than Joe Biden. Biden is running on the “decent man” campaign, which might win a few independents embarrassed by the crude tweets of a crude president, but doesn’t really win over voters. So, if Trump’s tax returns are revealed, unless it states he wrote off funding ISIS, nothing in his past will harm him. And even then, I’m not sure if him funding ISIS is a deal breaker.
Where the Democrats made a mistake is thinking that a moderate white candidate would win over voters from every possible camp. It doesn’t work. It didn’t work with Hillary Clinton, and it really isn’t working with Joe Biden. While he’s ahead in swing states, he’s still trailing behind Clinton’s numbers from four years ago. And we all saw how off that polling was.
With a few months left, don’t expect a controversy or Perry Mason-like twist as in past years. These are two 70+-year-old men who have already been vetted. The surprise coming will come from Trump. Maybe a war with a foreign country. Maybe a few missiles dropped from North Korea or Russia. A literal bomb, if you will.
Either way, be ready. Because if Trump knows one thing, it is how to get renewed for another season.