Bidding for Reelection Amid Crisis and Fear

President Donald Trump headlines his Republican Party’s national convention against a backdrop of a nation in crisis and an older sister who branded him a liar and someone without principles.

He plans to take the stage every four nights of the virtual gathering, true to form for the super narcissist, in the face of a resurging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 173,000 Americans, a severely devastated economy, fears about unstable election balloting and sagging polls against Democrat Joe Biden.

On the eve of what in ordinary times should be a high point of a president’s tenure, Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, labeled him as someone who lies, is cruel, a phony and “has no principles.”

“His goddamned tweet and lying. Oh my God . . . The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit,” she said in 15 hours of taperecorded conversations with her niece, Mary L. Trump that appeared in
The Washington Post Sunday.

“It’s the phoniness of it all,” she said. “It’s the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel.”

“All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Barry said. “He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this,” she said, referring to would-be immigrant children at the border being separated from their parents at the time.

And Trump probably will pass off his sister’s condemnation as “fake news” intended by the “deep state” to destroy his chances at re-election.

This is the former star of a TV reality show who is seeking another four-year term on a record of ignoring responsibility for leading a fearful country through a killer disease, doing little or nothing to shore up an economy sinking into depression and mostly absenting himself from congressional negotiations on a second major coronavirus relief package stuck in a vacationing Republican-ruled Senate.

If Biden as president wants to bring the nation out of the darkness into light, then he will need to sit at his desk for as long as it takes to countermand nearly all of the executive orders Trump has signed that has reversed progress on innumerable fronts, particularly as they relate to the environment.

The president has signed 181 executive orders as of Aug. 8, according to the Federal Register. In comparison, President Barack Obama signed 276 during eight years in office.

“The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long,” Biden said in his acceptance speech. “Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.”

“Where Joe Biden sees American darkness, I see American greatness,” Trump said within 24 hours after the Democratic virtual convention concluded.

Trump’s criticism brought back the unfathomable reality that is today’s chaotic government following four nights of a convention that embraced everything the president isn’t, a Kumbaya extravaganza of diversity that focused on unifying America in stark contrast to nearly four years of division, hate and racial discrimination spewed from a dystopian White House

The digital convention captured the spirit of former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign of hope and change, seeking to persuade viewers that a vote for Trump could mean no less than the end of democracy and the quest for a more perfect union

Biden, 77, a longtime senator who previously lost two bids for the Democratic presidential nomination, is intent on hoisting Trump on his own petard by slamming his incompetent administration that has tarnished the ideals of America.

“I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said.

And darkness there is, aplenty.

A day before Biden spoke, Trump all but embraced QAnon, the wacky conspiracy-forming group and satanic cult with a following that believes the president is fighting a deep-state coven of Democratic pedophiles and sex traffickers.

“I’ve heard these are people that love our country,” Trump told a news conference in response to a question about the group. “So I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.”

He was asked if he supported QAnon, which has been accused of terrorism and planned kidnapping.

“Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?” Trump responded. “If I can help save the world from problems, I am willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there.” Anything for a vote.

“Condemning this movement should not be difficult,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Washington Post. “It’s downright dangerous when a leader not only refuses to do so but also wonders whether what they are doing is ‘a good thing’”

“This is a life-changing election,” Biden said in his speech. “This will determine what America’s going to look like for a long, long time.”

Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the Middle East and was foreign editor of United Press International, served as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.