Who is worse for America : Trump or Biden?

July 04, 2024 21:53

So many questions, so few answers. The million-dollar question: who will win the 2024 US election? No one knows. Is the late British Prime Minister Harold Wilson's famous 1960s quote that a week is a long time in politics still valid? Yes and no. Can just one day make a huge political difference? Definitely.

US President Joe Biden realized that on June 27 2024 when he debated his Republican challenger former President Donald Trump on live TV. Biden had a moderate chance of being re-elected before the 90-minute debate. But when it ended, his chance of winning a second term as president sank to near zero.

I was in Atlanta, where the debate took place on CNN, and watched it live. It was a sad day for America. The 50 million Americans who watched it saw an old and frail man instead of a president capable of running their country. Blank stares, incoherent answers, unfinished sentences, loss of focus, and a failure to challenge Trump's torrent of lies. That was the Biden viewers saw.

The 81-year-old Biden's top task in that first of two debates with Trump was to show voters he is not too old to be president for another four years. Instead, he self-destructed and embarrassed his country on the world stage so much that Trump, who is just three years younger, looked presidential even though fact-checking showed he lied more than 30 times during the debate.

My first thought as an American was that people everywhere must be wondering why the world's preeminent economic and military superpower has sunk so low that the next US President will either be someone bordering on dementia, or a criminal convicted of fraud to cover up a sex scandal.

Biden, a Democrat, has served his country for nearly 50 years as a senator, vice president, and president. Democrats admire him for being neither too radical nor too right-wing. But the debate will be remembered as the worst moment in his political career.

Trump, a businessman turned politician, is a skilled demagogue with so strong a hold on his many millions of loyal supporters that they will believe anything he says. About 70 percent of Republicans believe his claim that election fraud caused him to lose the 2020 election to Biden even though every court ruling rejected this.

The world is anxiously watching and waiting to see who becomes the next US President in this era of great power rivalry. China, and Hong Kong by extension, will be in the trickiest position whoever wins. China was mentioned only briefly during the debate when Trump accused Biden of fearing Beijing.

But Republican and Democrat leaders alike consider China as a far bigger threat to the US than Russia. Many in Congress are convinced a new, but low key, Cold War is already underway with China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea on one side and the Western democracies on the other.

Biden, who kept Trump's China trade tariffs, imposed new ones on electric vehicles and other imports, and banned the sale of cutting-edge US technologies, will likely toughen his China policy further if re-elected. He has yet to sign off on promised visa restrictions against Hong Kong officials responsible for the Article 23 national security law but is facing Congressional pressure to do so.

Trump is so unpredictable that guessing his China policy if elected is pointless. But he has said he wants to increase tariffs to reduce America's trade deficit with China. He quickly sanctioned 11 Hong Kong and mainland officials in 2020, including then Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and current Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, after Beijing imposed its national security law on Hong Kong.

People Trump appoints to his inner circle will largely influence his China policy. There is talk he may name Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a fierce China critic, as his running mate for vice president. Trump's former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also a China hawk who initiated sanctions against Carrie Lam and others, has said he hopes to rejoin the government if Trump wins.

Many grassroots Democrats want Biden to step aside for a younger candidate who is more able to challenge Trump, but party leaders oppose that. They believe Biden can recover, especially if he does well in his second debate with Trump in September.

The US Supreme Court's July 1 ruling by a 6-3 majority, just five days after Biden's disastrous debate, that presidents, including Trump, cannot be prosecuted for official acts even though they may be considered criminal, could change the election outcome.

The six judges who sided with Trump, making it nearly impossible to prosecute him for alleged crimes such as his role in the storming of Congress after his 2020 election loss to Biden, were all appointed by Republican presidents, including three by Trump.

Biden attacked the ruling within hours, accusing the Supreme Court of destroying America's core value that no one is above the law. The unprecedented ruling could make undecided voters angry enough to join Democrats to make sure Trump loses.

But there are still four months before the November 5 election. Is a week a long time in politics, as the late Harold Wilson said? Will American voters forget about Biden's disastrous debate, Trump's lies, and the Supreme Court ruling? More million-dollar questions.

A Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London.