It was only a matter of time before the mainstream media, increasingly confident that Donald Trump will lose the election, started handicapping who will be in the Biden administration.

It was only a matter of time before the mainstream media, increasingly confident that Donald Trump will lose the election, started handicapping who will be in the Biden administration.
The New York Times has already asked readers to vote on who they want in the Cabinet (Susan Rice for secretary of State, Elizabeth Warren for Treasury, Kamala Harris for attorney general if they’re not picked as Joe’s running mate).
A deeply reported followup by Michelle Cottle on who has Biden’s ear says that as the election draws closer, “Democrats’ attention will shift toward the transition process and who should do what in a possible Biden government. At that point, say insiders, things will really get crazy.”
But a cautionary note, despite the polls and the punditry: I remember when there was plenty of media speculation about who would be tapped in the Dukakis administration. And in the Hillary administration.
Which brings me to this question: Can Trump, who is clearly trailing at the end of July, pull this out?
With the coronavirus surge ruining the summer (and national security adviser Robert O’Brien its latest victim), with the economy struggling and many schools unlikely to reopen their doors, can the president mount a comeback?
My answer is yes, if only because three months is a lifetime in politics, the presidency is a powerful platform and Biden will eventually have to face the spotlight of scrutiny. In November of 2016, when nearly all my colleagues were wondering how big Hillary Clinton’s margin would be, I said it was still possible for Trump to win.
So what would have to happen for Trump to overcome some fairly steep obstacles?
“All he has to do is change absolutely everything about how he confronts the two great crises facing the country,” liberals columnist Paul Waldman writes in the Washington Post. “In other words, if he wants to get reelected, he needs to do his job.
“That would start with admitting that his performance in confronting the novel coronavirus pandemic has been a disaster.”
The Atlantic, which supported Trump’s impeachment well before House Democrats made it a reality, ticks off a series of possibilities.
The economy–one area where the president still enjoys at least 50 percent support–could bounce back stronger than expected.
The polling could prove to be wrong again. Kellyanne Conway tells reporter Peter Nicholas that the problems of 2016 haven’t been fixed. And remember, the polling would have to be off in just enough battleground states to tilt the Electoral College.
Equally important is how Biden, who’s been trying to build an alliance with Bernie Sanders, performs in the stretch. The former VP “still symbolizes a brand of establishment centrism that leaves some younger voters and some in the party’s activist wing uninspired…If Sanders’s primary voters stay home on Election Day out of pique, that could damage Biden’s chances, especially in must-win swing states.” And if some state polling places are a mess, as they have been in recent primaries, many Biden supporters might not get to vote.
I’d say the questions run deeper on the Biden side of the equation. Right now, with a low-key strategy that includes few interviews, Biden is the Not-Trump candidate, the seemingly safe alternative for all those unhappy with or exhausted by the president. And he’s been smart about not taking Trump’s bait or getting into Twitter fights.
But as he eventually performs more in public, Biden will suffer from the inevitable stumbles. Those who expect him to botch the debates, however, are forgetting that he handled himself well in the primary faceoffs, even on off nights, and Trump is setting the bar ridiculously low by attacking Biden as confused and incoherent.
The greater danger is that Biden gets pulled too far to the left by the Bernie forces, making it easier for the Republicans to brand him as the captive of socialists. The escalating violence in such cities as Seattle and Portland, even if spurred by Trump’s deployment of federal forces, could stir doubts about Biden’s willingness to restore order in cities run by Democrats.
None of this is to say that Trump has an easy path to reelection. But he could win, which would shock the media types whose hearts are gearing up to cover the Biden presidency–and not for the first time.