January 17, 2021
Joe Biden wants to move into the White House, but the coast isn't clear. He may need some bleach.
Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.
Joe Biden wants to move into the White House, but the coast isn't clear. He may need some bleach.
Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.
Meet Major and Champ. Biden's victory also means the White House is once again…a doghouse. We'll introduce you to some of the pets of leaders around the world.
Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:
Hi, everybody, Ian Bremmer here. And it's completely insane. I think we can say that now. The news cycle is well beyond anything that we've ever experienced in our lives. I mean, let's face it just in the last week we had a massive New York Times data dump showing that President Trump had paid no taxes for 10 years and $750 in 2016 and 2017, which is a weird number, $750. Where do you come up with $750. Kind of just kind of arbitrary, right? It's like, it's less than a puppy, but more than if you were buying it rescue, I don't know. We'll dig into that. And then of course the worst debate, presidential debate of our life times without any question, some 71 times that President Trump actually interrupted the moderator, another 30 by Biden, all in all over one interruption per minute, it was useless. There was no information.
My view is we shouldn't bother to have any more presidential debates in this cycle. And you know what? I might get that wish because today we can throw out all of that other news, who's paying attention to it. President Trump and the First Lady, Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus. My God, who wanted to wake up to that, some people were still awake apparently, 1:00 AM this morning, finding that out on the East coast, you folks on the West coast, I just feel bad. And the rest of the world, I'm sorry that we continue to be airing our dirty linens all over the place, but this is a mess. And it's a mess because of course the election is coming up in just over a month. And that means we're going to have this coronavirus story around the President and everyone in his inner circle getting tested and all the rest.
That's just going to dominate the news for the coming weeks. What's the implications of that? Well, first of all, beyond the election, I think it is important to recognize that the three leaders of the G20 who have taken coronavirus the least seriously, who have been least willing to lead with science and expertise, are now the three leaders of the G20 that have also come down with coronavirus themselves. I am talking about British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. I'm talking about Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. And of course I'm talking about my own President, Donald Trump. That tells you something. It tells you that coronavirus is a very serious disease and it should be taken as such. Jair Bolsonaro had only mild symptoms, came back pretty quickly. His popularity did not really take much of a dump at all. Especially as coronavirus numbers are now going down in Brazil.
In the United Kingdom, Johnson, Prime Minister Johnson could have died. He was in the ICU, it was much more serious. There was a rally around him and greater support as people were concerned about his own health and safety. Since then, the UK has done worse in terms of coronavirus, some of the worst response in all of Europe still, and his approval ratings have gone down. In the United States, I suspect it'll be in between. In between, in part because President Trump's approval ratings are low, but incredibly sticky. He's got his base. They don't oppose him for any reason. And I don't think they're going to now. Also, I mean, I certainly don't believe, I certainly hope that Trump is going to recover and recover quickly. Keep in mind, he's 74 years old. He is obese. That is a preexisting condition, but otherwise doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, has the best healthcare in the world. The percentages will tell you, he's unlikely to need to be hospitalized.
He's very unlikely to need to go to the ICU, but it's a real possibility. And it's something we have to take very seriously indeed. Perhaps more importantly for the country, we are now going to be talking about coronavirus as the top issue for the next four weeks. That's a big deal because President Trump hasn't wanted to talk about coronavirus. He doesn't do as well talking about it. He's not seen to have handled it very well. He was well behind Biden in coronavirus. He's considerably better than Biden in who handles the US economy better. So if he's able to focus on the economy and to a degree on law and order issues, that benefits Trump. If we're talking about coronavirus and particularly we're talking about his coronavirus and Melania's coronavirus. And people around him who have coronavirus, well, that's obviously going to do worse for him.
So I had believed that Trump's approval, likelihood of winning the presidency was about a 35%, Biden, 65%. And I thought it would get closer as we got closer to the election because the economy was picking up and because coronavirus numbers going down. I don't believe that's going to get closer now because of this massive piece of news in Trump and the First Lady having coronavirus. Even if he gets better quickly and only has mild symptoms, we're still talking about a President that is going to be in isolation for 10 days to 14 days minimum. Someone who will not be able to go on the campaign trail the way he was, and it could be worse than that. So you'd certainly be handicapping the race more strongly in Biden's favor. At this point, maybe 70%, maybe a little bit better.
Having said that, Trump's willingness to contest the outcome continues to be a hundred percent. That means the Trump army watching the polls. It means trying to throw out ballots. It means only one polling place per County for drop-off ballots in Texas, which is astonishing and makes it harder for people to physically vote. I mean, just lots of efforts to ensure that the balloting process is in favor of Trump and the Republicans, and can be contested in favor of Trump and the Republicans. Given that, Biden is going to be contesting as well, if it turns out they're behind. I still think that it may well be that the election itself is more of a landslide. It's possible. I'm not sure I would say it's likely, but I still think after election day, the most likely outcome is it's contested. It goes legal. And this is a really ugly process for quite some time, weeks, maybe months.
So, we're heading into the thick of it. At the very least, I can say at least the next presidential debate, probably not going to happen. And given the fact that we learned absolutely nothing and on balance, it just damaged the country, I guess I'm fine with that. But it's going to be a lot of coronavirus all the time. Final thing I would say is it is by far the biggest story of the year, not the US economy, certainly not issues of social instability in individual cities. It's not Antifa. It's not the proud boys. It's not any of that. It is the worst crisis of our lifetimes, a pandemic and the economic impact of that pandemic, the health impact of the pandemic. That's what we should be talking about globally. It's what we should be talking about in the United States, in the US election. And that's what we will be talking about. And that regard, it's something that we should be grateful for. That's it for me. I'll talk to you all very soon.
Ian Bremmer shares his insights on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:
What does Beijing's new security law mean for Hong Kong?
It means the end of one country, two systems. A lot of people are going to say, "Oh, well, it's only about certain cases and it's not getting rid of the entire independent judiciary. The Chinese government says it's not going to change the way you do business in Hong Kong." It is going to immediately put an immensely chilling effect on anyone that might want to utter a word opposed to Hong Kong democracy, communist party control, one state, two systems. It is going to be defined by the Chinese government. It's been completely written by them. The Hong Kong government didn't even see it. And it has less to do with how they're going to apply it as their ability to use it as a threat against anyone that might otherwise want to demonstrate, want to write or speak about something that's problematic for China.
If you are an investment type or a corporate type, and you've set up your business in Hong Kong to have access to the Chinese market, but you want to make sure your expats and your business are in a place that has rule of law and an independent judiciary, the idea that you're going to be able to do that going forward in Hong Kong is really not the case. And so, it's a question of when you decide to reduce that exposure, as opposed to whether this is the tipping point for Hong Kong relations with the West and with China.
Second, will we see a Putin White House visit before the United States election?
I don't expect so. I mean, it's possible, but Trump isn't gaining any support by cozying up to Putin right now. Of course, this issue about whether he did or did not know personally about the Kremlin providing direct cash payments to members of the Taliban for targeting and killing American soldiers on the ground there, is only making the Russia issue worse. Even some Republicans in the House and Senate have raised some questions around that. None of America's allies want Russia to be invited to the G7 Summit, which Trump is trying to host. And if he's not welcomed, then Putin is not just going to show up to be on the sidelines. And the idea that Trump's going to have a separate White House meeting with Putin in the next few months, seems to me one that would be shat upon by pretty much every Trump advisor around him. And so I would say, no, that's probably not going to happen.
What does India's TikTok ban mean for the social media company?
Well, I mean almost 60 apps banned overnight by the Indian government. All Chinese apps, all the result of the confrontation in the border zone, in the Himalayas between the Indians and the Chinese. The Chinese killed some 20 Indian soldiers. They've tried to deescalate, and the Indians are not going to engage militarily because they have nowhere close to the capabilities militarily the Chinese do. They'd get pasted, but this is a response. It's a strong economic response. And the Indian government is also looking to promote their own tech firms.
TikTok in particular, something like almost A hundred million downloads since the beginning of the year in India. It's an extraordinary explosion of success for that company, but also one that is more than happy to censor anti-Chinese content. But when the Indian government requests them to censor anti-Indian content, they don't do it. Very different from Facebook. All of that put together is why TikTok got banned. And it's not clear that the Chinese have anything useful to do against the Indians, because if they hit them back economically India is critical for a lot of key pharmaceutical ingredients that the Chinese particularly need right now in a pandemic. I really don't think the Chinese want to go that route, so it may well be that a that they get away with this. And that's where we are.
Finally, what are the odds that you, meaning me, will be visiting Europe before the end of the year?
I think pretty low, honestly. Certainly, there are a bunch of events that are still, people trying to tell me they'd like to have me come various places by the end of the year, but we're probably going to see a second wave in the United States and in Europe. I think that as that occurs, the idea that people are going to be getting on planes in large numbers, attending events in large numbers, especially when Zoom and Microsoft products and all the rest seem to be working perfectly well, I think it's well until next year before you see significant international travel. And yeah, I'm going to be a part of that.
Trump wants to censor John Bolton's tell-all, but the old walrus-whiskered warmonger has found a big audience for his banned book anyway: at a local pre-school. It's Story Time with John Bolton!
Presidential race, pandemic, protests... Sometimes the news cycle moves so quickly that it's hard to make sense of it all.
Meet Jon Lieber, U.S. Managing Director for Eurasia Group. With extensive experience on Capitol Hill, he's advised senior elected officials and covered policy for years. Join him, every week, as he cuts through the noise and shares updates on what you need to know in just one minute. This is "U.S. Politics In 60 Seconds."
Can trump stop Robert Mueller from testifying on Capitol Hill?
No, he can't stop it. He could try to slow it down with legal challenges, maybe even invoke executive privilege, but he cannot stop it.
What's up with all of Trump's tweets about China over the weekend?
I'm told by an administration official that Trump is trying to force China's hand to get a deal done by Friday, it could backfire. The Chinese do not like these kind of tactics.
Can Jared Kushner get his immigration plan through Capitol Hill?
No, there's people lining up on left and right already opposing it. Immigration had proved incredibly challenging over the last decade to get anything done. And Jared Kushner is not going to be the one who solves that.
Is Mayor Pete Buttigieg a moderate Democrat?
Well it's tough to slot him into any particular category but he's definitely more moderate than Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. He's also for 'Medicare for All' and fixing the environment. But he does care about debt and deficits and the long term impact on his generation.
And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence Microsoft On The Issues.