- - Friday, October 2, 2020

Many times in life, the hardest thing to do is to remain quiet, listen and let someone else talk. That’s especially difficult when the other person is talking nonsense.

But that is precisely what President Trump needs to do now and for the remainder of the campaign.

Whatever one thinks of the first presidential debate, it is clear that Mr. Trump stepped on many of his own best lines — “I’ve done more in 47 months than you’ve done in 47 years” — by his constant chatter. The debate was a microcosm of the president’s entire approach to life: Keep talking, dominate the narrative, and win the news cycle.

Unfortunately, people usually stop listening to those who are always talking.

The president needs to give former Vice President Joseph R. Biden enough time and oxygen to expose himself as an empty vessel being filled by the left side of his party. Supreme Court packing? Statehood for the Northern Marianas? A Green New Deal for the low, low, low price of $5 trillion? Defund the police? The largest tax increase in the history of the world? A new deal with Iran? Playing footsie with China?

With enough time and patience, Mr. Biden will have to answer all questions related to these issues, but only if the president stops talking long enough to let the election be at least partly about the philosophy and record of his Democratic rival.

For instance, Mr. Biden is considered by his allies and those in the media as a foreign policy expert. Yet, he has spent most of his career being wrong in the arena of foreign policy.

He opposed deploying intermediate nuclear weapons in Europe when that was crucial to the defeat of the Soviet Union. He opposed the 1991 war in Iraq (we won) and supported the war in Iraq in 2003 (let’s call it a draw). He opposed the surge in Iraq. He opposed the killing of Osama bin Laden. He opposed the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was responsible for destabilizing the Middle East and the killing and wounding of thousands of American troops. He opposed the cessation of flights from China to protect the U.S. from COVID-19.

Despite all this, he remains an “expert” on national security issues. Part of the reason why this remains so is because the incumbent appears to be unable or unwilling to focus attention on his opponent’s record, which is marred by bad judgments in any direction. The debate was a good example of that inability or unwillingness.

Imagine the power of the moment if Mr. Trump simply looked at Mr. Biden and asked him: “Would the world be a better place if Gen. Soleimani were alive and ably directing international terror, as you wanted him to be?”

This is, of course, just one example. It would require Mr. Trump to stop talking, start listening and becoming comfortable with allowing the focus to be Mr. Biden and the accumulated pathologies that are his record and his campaign.

In the wake of his positive coronavirus test and the commencement of a quarantined campaign, the wisdom of refraining from Twitter and other outlets of communication and letting Mr. Biden talk will become even more apparent.

Keeping silent also will help those who favor Mr. Trump’s policies, but who have reservations about their ability to endure his volume level for four more years.

Let everyone be quick to listen and slow to speak — at least that’s what my friend James likes to say.

However, it is now or never. There is no more time left.

• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.

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