President Trump, as a way of deflecting attention from his ongoing collusion with Russia, has been claiming for months that the Chinese government wants Joe Biden to win (possibly true) and is actively working to advance his election (almost certainly false). He has also been claiming that Biden is barely able to function (obviously untrue.) At a rally today, the two claims collided in an unfortunate way.
Trump launched a riff about how various dictators all don’t want Biden to win because he is too sleepy.
“The only thing I can tell you for sure: President Xi from China, President Putin from Russia, Kim Jong-un, North Korea, and I could name 40 others, they’re sharp as a tack. They don’t want to deal with Sleepy Joe,” he said. “One of them said to me, one of the leaders said, ‘We don’t want to deal with somebody that sleeps all the time.’”
Here is a case where Trump has forgotten the difference between the way he thinks about various dictators and the way his audience does. Trump regards Xi, Putin, and Kim with admiration. He envies their dictatorial powers, and glories in the flattery they lavish on him. Trump has already won the open endorsement of many of the right-wing authoritarian nationalists with whom his is increasingly allied: Bolsonaro, Orban, Duterte, and Putin. In Trump’s mind, the idea that they prefer him over Biden is a strong argument for his own reelection.
That is not, however, the line he is trying to sell the public.