NEW YORK – As the Presidential campaign heats up, on August 28 TNH Co-Editor and Publisher Eraklis Diamataris invited current TNH contributors, Former U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Patrick Theros and attorney, presidential historian, and political analyst Dino Scaros to the ‘TNH Discussion on U.S. Politics and Global Affairs’ on Facebook.
Diamataris launched the hourlong discussion by asking about the Republican and Democratic national conventions after noting Scaros’ new book, Trumped Up Charges, which he said contains “criticism of today’s media, particularly its treatment of Donald Trump.”
Scaros said, “I have never seen a bigger disparity in the effectiveness of conventions … the DNC was anemic and drab … whereas the RNC looked much more like normal convention.” So in his eyes, the Republicans won the all-important optics battle.
Theros agreed that “the RNC … did a better job of stirring up its base, but in today’s election I don’t think that is enough.”
Regarding the press, Theros said “I don’t have as dystopian view as my colleague of the press … its purpose is to express opinions as well as report,” to which Scaros responded that good journalists “know where to keep the news and where to keep their opinions.”
Diamataris noted that for first time in history the Republicans did not have a platform and Scaros said “I didn’t hear tremendous details on policy at either convention … the big theme for the Democrats is that Donald Trump is this monster and Joe Biden is a decent, compassionate, human being … and Republicans did the same thing.”
Scaros seems to have his finger on the pulse of the people who voted Trump in 2016, including non-Republicans. After saying “I have no problem with Joe per se … or with Biden of ten years ago being president,” Scaros said, “I don’t believe this election is Donald Trump against Joe Biden … I believe it’s about Trump vs. ‘defund the police’ and ‘tear down the statues’ … I think there is an irrational mob rule going on … I believe most Americans are rightly upset about police brutality … but my problem is the mob mentality of the looters and the atrocious violence being committed and that too many turn a blind eye to it.” He added that “I see that the very foundations of our society are crumbling … and Joe Biden no longer has what it takes in terms of his decision making ability and his ability to control the radicals. That’s my problem with Biden.”
Diamataris asked a crucial question: “can President Trump as the incumbent warn of the future under Joe Biden … when that dystopian image that he is conjuring” is a reality on his watch? “Can he run as an outsider?”
Theros noted “Nixon ran as an outsider after having been insider for a very long time … it’s possible, but it’s a stretch and a real problem to overcome.” He added about the Trump phenomenon that the President “has a core that follows him personally, not because of what he does … a cult of personally.”
The question about how Trump is handling the situation in the East Mediterranean evoked a fascinating discussion on a range of topics from the state of Turkish influence in Washington – Theros emphasized its decline – to Trump’s alleged affinity to strongmen – which Scaros denied.
Scaros doesn’t think either candidate would do much for Greece or Cyprus but Theros put the issue in a different context, suggesting Trump’s alleged friendship with Erdogan – which Scaros poo-pooed – “raises the risk of a catastrophic war between Greece and Turkey. He is letting Erdogan play him.”
The most fascinating part of the hour concerned fears that a second Trump term could bring an authoritarian government. Scaros rejects that, believing America “is so strong that we could not have an authoritarian government.” Theros, however, believes “Democracy is far more fragile than everybody thinks.”
Asked for their predictions, Scaros hesitated. While he noted in presidential forecasts “I’m 11 for 11 since 1976,” he said, “because we are in such unusual times with COVID I needed to see a few things happen” before hazarding a prediction, such as the convention, debates, and the status of the virus. “Wow. I just found myself in complete agreement with Dino,” Theros responded.