Trump Is in His Element

Bret Stephens: Hi, Gail. I know we’ll get around to talking about Donald Trump’s big South Carolina primary win, but first I want to pick your brain about Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. It isn’t happening till next week, but I’m guessing the White House speechwriters are working hard on it now.

Any advice on what the president should say and how he should say it?

Gail Collins: Let’s presume he’s going to tell the country how well things are going in the economy, the progress he’s made on priorities like improving America’s infrastructure and getting relief to folks who are drowning in student debt.

Bret: Will quarrel with you in a minute. Go on ….

Gail: Then at some point he’ll turn to foreign affairs. You know that’s not my subject, but even a spectator like me could guess that the evils of Russia will be paired with Donald Trump’s claim that the United States shouldn’t protect any NATO country that doesn’t spend a certain amount on defense.

Biden’s already laced into that one once, but he was so … vigorous that I’m hoping for a repeat.

OK, your turn.

Bret: A lot of Americans are looking at a Trump-Biden rematch as a case of the morally unfit versus the mentally unfit. So the most important thing Biden has to do with this speech is dispel the perception that he’s tipping into senility. If he stumbles even a little, it’s going to cost him a lot.

Next thing he needs to do is acknowledge the magnitude of the crisis at the border and blame Republicans for rejecting the bipartisan Senate bill to help address the crisis — a cynical MAGA maneuver intended solely to keep the crisis alive for Trump’s political benefit. Finally, declare that he’s ordering many thousands of troops to the border, with authority to detain migrants. It would remind people who’s president and take the issue straight out of the G.O.P.’s hands.

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