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Benefit of Clergy

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This is the kind of thing that can drive a blogger clear around the bend. From the Newspaper of Record:

Biden Campaign Ad Paints Trump as a Felon

President Biden’s campaign on Monday began its most aggressive effort to brand former President Donald J. Trump a felon, with the introduction of a new television advertisement that focuses on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s criminal conviction.

To “paint” or “brand” someone as being something normally means, in English, that there’s a genuine controversy about whether that person is that something. Whether someone is a felon is simply a social fact, like whether someone is a native-born citizen of the United States, or 78 years old. Donald Trump is a felon because he has been convicted of a felony, or more precisely 34 felonies. So “paints” in the headline should be “points out.”

Since Mr. Trump’s trial concluded last month, the president’s Democratic allies have been engaged in a broad discussion about how to use the New York jury’s decision in the campaign.

While Mr. Trump regularly bemoans his conviction in rally speeches and on his social media platform, Mr. Biden has for the most part avoided the subject, aside from an offhand remark at a Connecticut fund-raiser this month. He has not attacked Mr. Trump for his criminal conviction in front of television cameras, though surrogates such as Gov. JB Pritzker of Illinois have shown themselves to be far less reluctant to do so.

Now I’m no high-paid political consultant, but this “discussion” is incomprehensible to me. How the hell else do you think you’re going to reach the Ariana Grande voters? By talking about the specific eligibility rules and underlying macroeconomic justifications for discharging certain types of federal student debt?

That Biden doesn’t say at least once a day that we can’t have a convicted felon as president of the United States, so that we could at least get the Streisand effect of the media arguing nonstop about whether it’s kosher or cricket for the president of the United States to point out that his opponent is a convicted felon, is something I just don’t understand.

Also related from The Paper of Record this morning, on why Biden appears to be losing to Trump at present:

Some important context: The race is clearly tight, Biden has solid fund-raising, and he would win if he prevails in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. But I think the spring is ending as a missed opportunity for Biden to gain more ground on Trump, especially with Trump’s felony conviction. Based on Times polling and Times Opinion focus groups, many undecided and independent voters see Biden as ineffective on the economy, immigration and foreign wars, and too old for a second term.

That’s why, this week, Biden plans to spend a lot of time in debate prep. The reason he agreed to this unusually early debate against Trump, on June 27, is because he needs it: Look at his springtime performance and the swing state polls, and the election is slipping away from Biden right now. He needs to start persuading more people to want him for another four years — and that he’s up to the job. He has a lot to lose in this debate, but I think he was smart to take the gamble.

As for Trump, he’ll be campaigning in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania this week. Pennsylvania is shaping up to be the whole ballgame this fall: If Trump holds his lead in the Sun Belt states, all he needs is Pennsylvania to win. Trump isn’t doing much debate prep, according to my colleagues Shane Goldmacher and Reid J. Epstein, but the expectations for him are lower than for Biden. Many voters expect Trump to be the same unhinged guy he was in the 2020 debates, ranting and talking over Biden. Trump can afford to spend time in must-win Pennsylvania while Biden tries to ensure his summer is better than his spring.

It’s just tossed off here that of course Donald Trump is “unhinged,” but hey if more than half of the voting public is currently leaning toward electing a certifiably crazy person as president, well that’s just democracy for you so whattaya gonna do? Which also means, apparently, that nothing Trump can do during next week’s debate (good grief) can be interpreted as bad for him, since he’s being graded on the same curve he’s been graded on for his whole life, which is he gets an A for simply showing up.

Meanwhile, if Biden stumbles over a phrase we’ll just have to read a few more Ezra Klein columns about how Biden needs to withdraw from the race for the Good of the Nation, so we can have a Brokered Convention, even though that means that four hours in Ezra will have to be calling his doctor.

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