Vice President Joe Biden accepted the Democratic nomination for President of the United States last night, and has now been formally ratified as President Trump’s opponent for the election, scheduled for November 3rd. Here are his full remarks:

Biden promised that his first action if he is elected president will be to “get control of the virus that has ruined so many lives.”

“Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He’s failed to protect us. He’s failed to protect America. And my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable,” Biden said. “He keeps waiting for a miracle. Well I have news for him. No miracle is coming.  After all this time, the president still does not have a plan. Well I do.”

The speech featured many stinging attacks on President Trump, with Biden claiming that “character is on the ballot” – but little enough by way of policy promises. He did repeat his pledge, interestingly, to introduce a nationwide mandate for the American public to wear facemasks. But that’s unlikely for two reasons – first, he wouldn’t have the power to do that, as President. And second, even if he wins the Presidency, Trump’s term in office runs through until the 20th of January next year, by which time the worst of any winter second wave will already have hit.

Biden’s appeal to America is basically “elect me and we’ll go back to normal”. In a year like 2020, it would be foolish for anyone to under-estimate the potency of that message. Trump is many things, but he is not a “normal” President, and the constant sense of instability and chaos that surrounds his administration might be enough to make a majority of voting Americans conclude that four years of Biden is just the ticket.

Which brings us to Trump’s nickname for Biden – “sleepy Joe”. That’s not very smart, is it? To the devoted Trump fan, it says “Biden’s not up to it”, to be sure. But to everyone else?

“Sleepy” might not be such a bad thing, to many people, after four years of endless tweets, and investigations, and rows, and impeachments, and bluster. With “crooked Hillary” the nickname seemed to imply that if she was given power, she’d be an active President trying to enrich herself and her cronies. “Sleepy Joe”, on the other hand, sounds like a fella who’ll be too busy having himself a nice siesta to bother messing with your life or your rights. There’s not much to fear from a lazy man, after all.

Personally, my money’s on Biden to win this thing with relative comfort. But my money was on Clinton, too, and no less a figure than Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the house, says that Trump is going to pull away now that the campaign proper has begun. My own reaction to this is deep scepticism, but here he is, anyway:

As an observer of conventions and presidential campaigns going back to 1956, I am confident in predicting that this week’s Democratic National Convention will be the high-water mark before the collapse of the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket.

As the ticket collapses, it will start to move into the 1972 George McGovern range of isolation from the American people. Ironically, the physical isolation of Biden over the last few months has slowed down the political isolation, which will presently occur.

Gingrich is a very partisan pro-Trump fellow, of course, but he’s not a fantasist. He knows a thing or two about elections.

His argument is threefold: first, that Americans will conclude that Biden is not capable of doing a full term as President, physically or mentally. Second, that voters will then conclude that Kamala Harris will be the real President. And third, that the radicalism of the Democratic party on cultural issues will turn people off.

The problem with that, of course, is that it fundamentally requires voters to see the contrast between Biden and Trump, and agree with Gingrich that Biden isn’t up to it. But the only chance for that to happen is at the debates. It seems to be an article of faith amongst Trump supporters in Ireland, and the USA, that Trump will expose Biden as some sort of drooling mess on the debate stage. But what if, and when, that doesn’t happen? What if Trump is the angry shouting one, and Biden is just quietly empathetic?

If the first part of Gingrich’s analysis doesn’t come true, the other two parts are irrelevant. To make the first part of it true, though, requires a big victory for Trump in all three debates.

Now, do we think he’s practicing night and day for those debates, in the white house, or not? Biden will definitely be practicing. Where’s your money on Trump?

As noted above, colour me a convinced sceptic about his re-election chances.