New York: Monday, July 15, 2024
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Politics: You Can’t Hold Us Citizens Hostage No Matter What

POLITICS: You can’t hold US Citizens hostage no matter what

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“Catastrophic” is the general view of Joe Biden’s debate performance last week.

Even the president has admitted to donors that he almost fell asleep on the stage.

His performance might have been better if he had. 

But because he had such a bad evening, almost nobody has focused on the other side: that Don­ald Trump had a good evening. 

Trump listened to the advice that many people gave him — which was to allow Biden to talk. 

The great flaw of the first debate in the 2020 election was that Trump kept interrupting Biden.

There is no need to interrupt Biden.

He constantly interrupts himself.

“C’mon,” “Anyway,” “Here’s the deal” and “You don’t want to hear about that” are the ways he tries to get on track whenever he loses his train of thought. 

This time, Trump was exceptionally disciplined.

He allowed Biden to talk, and wow did Biden fall into the trap. 

Trump’s skills 

Trump did a number of other skillful things.

One was to hold back on the nastiness.

Apart from the surreal argument at the end of the debate when the candidates traded blows over their golf swings, there was only one time Trump did a real body blow against Biden.

That was when Trump came up with that line: “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don’t think he knows what he said ­either.” 

If Biden was listening, that must have hurt.

But Trump held that side of things back.

There were plenty of other occasions in the debate when Trump could have been similarly withering. 

But in the main, he just looked quizzically at Biden, knowing that everyone else in the country who wasn’t watching the debate through their hands saw themselves in that look. 

It showed an important discipline.

Again — if your opponent is badly misstepping, you don’t need to tell people about it.

You just have to let them see it.

Which is what Trump allowed to happen. 

If he had kept stressing Biden’s inability to answer any question coherently, then the public may have felt more sympathy for Biden and distaste of Trump for being a bully.

By holding back, Trump did many things, but one of them was to show himself in a better light to those swing voters (particularly women) who do not appreciate his most aggressive side. 

As a result of those 90 minutes, the Democrats are now in the worst mess possible.

They cannot go into the election in November with Biden as their candidate.

It is impossible to imagine Biden in the Oval Office for another four months, let alone another four years. 

Nap time’s over 

Knowing now what his nap schedule is like and how few hours a day the president is mentally alert, there is no way this country can go on like this.

Perhaps some small island nation could get by with a leader who only works a few hours a day.

But the world’s superpower cannot.

And the world cannot afford it, ­either. 

And that brings me to the most important subject — which is the next debate.

Maybe it will be Biden onstage against Trump in September. 

Maybe the Dems will have ­decided to kill off their chances completely by putting Kamala Harris at the top of the ticket.

In a way, it doesn’t matter.

Because whomever the Democrats put up, Trump has a number of massive goals still to score. 

Obviously there is the border.

The inability of the Biden-Harris presidency to seal the border in any way is a national-security ­catastrophe as well as a social disaster.

Everyone can see how vulnerable Biden-Harris will be on that.

There is also much to say on the cost-of-living crisis, inflation and much more. 

But there is one message above all that Trump could concentrate on if he wants to win again.

That is the question of whether the world respects — and our ­enemies fear — America. 

There is a very good test of this.

One with a historical precedent. 

In the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan gained a great deal of traction by stressing the American-hostages issue.

It was a year ­earlier, during the Carter administration, that the Revolutionary Islamic Government seized power in Iran.

It also seized American hostages.

It was Reagan who saw the opportunity to make the election in part about that.

How dare any country seize Americans and get away with it? 

He famously insisted that on Day One of his administration the hostages would be returned.

The mullahs realized they were no longer dealing with a weak American leader and the hostages were duly brought home. 

Today we are in a similar situation.

Iran and Russia in particular are in an ugly citizen-bartering phase. 

Vladimir Putin has now held an American journalist (Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich) for more than a year.

Russia has invented charges against him and is clearly holding him to try to trade him at some point.

In a little-covered story, Putin’s friends in Iran recently stole two Swedish civilians in order to swap them for an Iranian war criminal held in a Swedish jail.

US citizen Robert Woodland was also recently detained in Russia.

Again most likely for a swap. 

But most appalling is the more than 100 hostages currently being held by Iran and Qatar’s proxy army in Gaza: Hamas.

These hostages include at least five Americans.

To the shame of Biden and Harris, these Americans have been utterly abandoned. 

Show some force 

And here is where Trump can step in.

He should explain that when he is back in charge, he expects all these hostages to be released.

All of them.

And that they better be in the best possible condition. Otherwise Russia, Qatar and Iran are going to pay big time. 

Countries like those mentioned do not respect weakness.

They respect force.

When Americans can be seized and held anywhere in the world, it is clear that America has lost that force and that respect.

It is time to get it back.

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