That seems to be the choice if you read accounts after President Donald Trump’s reckless tweet referring to a delay of the election. While Trump last night stated that he is not seeking a delay in the election in his tweet, the tweet set off a firestorm. I was one of those who within minutes denounced the tweet as fueling a baseless conspiracy theory that Trump could delay the election. However, some writers claimed that Biden was right all along when he “predicted” that Trump would move to delay the election and noted that I made fun of him for warning voters of a move against the election. I certainly did make fun of him, but it is worth noting that the column was not about whether Trump might suggest a delay but how such a delay could not happen. It is no “conspiracy theory” that Trump might suggest something outrageous on Twitter. That is an established fact that occupies this blog on a daily basis. The theory was whether the election could be delayed by Trump unilaterally and it was alarming voters for no reason. I explained that the theory that the election would be canceled or stopped was “all the rage on the Internet” for months before Biden unwisely repeated it.
The April column, which I admit was caustic, expressed my frustration with the coverage over whether Trump was going to delay the election despite the lack of a factual or constitutional foundation. I was equally caustic with Trump‘s reference to a delay. Notably, at the time of Biden’s sensational statement, other experts agreed that this was not a real possibility. Yet, it served to send the media into a frenzy over a theory despite being as likely as Trump staying in office by adopting a Venusian calendar.
I later criticized Jared Kushner is equally harsh terms for suggesting that such a delay was a possibility. Again, the criticism was focused on the constitutional impediments to such a delay and how it is not in the realm of possibilities with today’s Congress.
Critics have omitted that the April column was actually about an array of conspiracy theories on the Internet that have been given credence by the media. It also clearly stated that I was not arguing that Trump would never adopt such conspiracy theories. To the contrary, I said that if he tried to do what Biden was suggesting and “tried to stay in office past noon on January 20 if he loses, he would have to join Biden on the subway and whisper to people that he is still the president.” The column was not on what Trump might claim but the realities of the law governing the election.
What is also striking is that the effort to claim that Biden is a seer or Trump whisperer ignores what he actually said. Biden was suggesting that Trump might unilaterally stop the election and was warning voters” “Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, and come up with some rationale why it cannot be held.” He also however added the additional claim that the election might be stolen by the Postal Service: “Imagine threatening not to fund the post office. Other than trying to let the word out that he is going to do all he can to make it very hard for people to vote, that is the only way he thinks he can possibly win.” No one is mentioning that part.
As I explained:
“Let us address the mail connection. For years, Trump has been a critic of the Postal Service as being an institution that repeatedly required bailouts due to running huge deficits. He wants the Postal Service to agree to raise fees for mass shippers like Amazon before it can ask for another federal subsidy. That would have no impact on voting, including mail voting, in the election. Any change in its operations would not impact such things as regular mail this year.”
As an aside, this does not mean that we should not be focusing on the Postal Service. Trump is right that there will likely be an increase in challenges and problems as we move toward such a massive increase in mail in voting. I have covered presidential elections for the media for many years and every one has involved legal challenges on some level, including the traumatic and lingering challenges in 2000. The shift to mail in voting adds a new layer of possible problems and challenges and we need to be prepared for them. Trump is also right that counting all of the votes could be a problem and we need to clearly establish how the Postal Service will be handling these ballots. This includes a review of current changes in this Administration that could delay receipt of ballots. However, any sinister role of the Postal Service would immediately be subject to challenge. Moreover, even a delay of days will not prevent the counting of ballots so long as they are properly postmarked. Additionally, Trump predication of massive voter fraud is not supported by past uses of alternative mailing systems.
The main problem addressed in the April column was Biden repeating the Internet theory that the election might not be held. Such sensational statements focuses people on a nonexistent threat and undermines the faith in our election process. It is also simply wrong. There is no such possibility.
Trump’s tweet was worthy of condemnation and I was one of the first in line. He ended a tirade with “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” While he said later that he was only pointing out the likely delays and challenges to come from massive mail in voting, it was another reckless tweet that sent the country into a frenzy. I wrote yet another blog column, again, pointing out that this is a baseless conspiracy theory and that our election will be held on November 3rd. Period.
So, to sum up. Biden did not just claim that Trump would raise a delay. As shown by the coverage in response to his statement, he was warning that Trump might unilaterally stop the election or steal it with the help of the Postal Service. Even before he denied wanting to move the election date hours later, Trump did not say that he was even contemplating a unilateral decision to halt the election. As my Biden column stated, Trump does not have that authority. That is the conspiracy theory.
Thus, if Biden was merely predicting that Trump would say an outrageous thing, he is a Nostradamus but so is everyone else in the country. If he was really predicting that the election would be halted by Trump, he is a nut. In my view, he is really neither. He is a politician who was fueling a conspiracy theory that was already all the rage on the Web.