Top job contenders are dozing off at the wheel

By Peter Madeley | Politics | Published:

Roll up, roll up, for the greatest show on Earth is about to begin in earnest.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are aiming for the White House

After months of rather tepid, socially-distanced sparring the US presidential election campaign has clicked into gear, with two heavyweight candidates going all out in a race for the White House that will be like none that has come before it.

OK, so maybe I’m guilty of over-egging it slightly.

It could be argued that every presidential campaign is unique in its own special way, but circumstances have dictated that this one has an extra spark to it.

November’s poll comes against a backdrop of America suffering the highest Covid-19 death rate in the world, with a senior US government medical advisor last week describing the virus as now being “extraordinarily widespread”.

Some states are suffering unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression, and cities across the nation are reeling from the civil unrest that followed the killing of George Floyd, which saw shops looted, buildings set alight and violent clashes with police during mass protests.

So at a time when America badly needs strong leadership, what are the options?

The Democrats, tripping over themselves to be all ‘woke’ and desperate to secure the youth vote, managed to settle on Joe Biden, a 77-year-old career politician with an allegation of sexual assault hanging over him.

For the Grand Old Party it is of course Donald Trump, who is aiming for a second term in office to continue what he calls his “incredible work”.


Trump’s claim has certainly raised a few eyebrows.

Even his biggest supporters struggle to defend his handling of the pandemic, which he initially said was not as bad as the seasonal flu and would quickly disappear.

When it didn’t and thousands of people were dying, he came up with the utterly bonkers suggestion that Covid-19 could be cured by injecting disinfectant.

If Trump had been trying to do the worst job possible in order to ensure maximum damage to his country’s health and economy, he’d get a gold star.


After such a calamitous run you would expect his opponent to already have one foot in the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, yet with less than three months to go until the election the polls are still desperately close.

Biden is ahead, but not by the margin he probably should be at this stage.

This is partly because many Trump supporters are not overly fussed about his handling of Covid, but the standard of the opposition is also a major factor.

Presented with dozens of potential candidates, the Dems eventually settled on listless former VP Biden, who professes to be the most qualified person in the US to be president and has promised a return to the “sanity” of the Obama era.

Against his name he has an abundance of top level political experience, but his faults are many.

He’s been dubbed ‘Sleepy Joe’ by the Trump camp, due to an unfortunate habit of closing his eyes for long periods of time during interviews and public appearances.

When allegations of decidedly creepy behaviour against women came to light, the moniker was adapted to ‘Creepy Joe’.

Biden often struggles to answer the most straightforward questions – that’s not suggesting he dodges the issue, rather his responses can be garbled and at times, incoherent.

There are suggestions that he may be suffering from the early stages of senility.

Biden strenuously denies the claims, but his mental fortitude will undoubtedly be given a major test in the televised debates, which are due to start next month.

In 2016 these events provided us with some of the weirdest live television ever broadcast, with Trump seen prowling in and out of shot behind Hillary Clinton as she addressed the cameras.

Lord knows what awaits us this time. Trump launching his latest virus-denial tirade while Biden takes a nap on the sofa?

Maybe Biden will try and stick to his central campaign message of ‘vote for me because, hey, I’m not Donald Trump’?

Trump is clearly frustrated with the stunted progress of his campaign this year.

The virus (the one he insisted was going to “fade away”) has curtailed the mass rallies he is so fond of, and this month’s Republican National Convention in North Carolina has been drastically scaled down.

The President has even floated the idea of delaying the election, his questioning of the validity of postal voting coming across as a ready-made excuse should he taste defeat.

It leaves millions of non-partisan Americans facing a dilemma: more of the same, or a potentially devastating step into the unknown?

Trump has started trotting out his old line about making America great again. Biden has vowed to “build back better than ever”.

From the outside looking in, they both appear to be fast asleep at the wheel.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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