The presidential platform America really needs now

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Today's Agenda

We Need Better Presidential Candidates

If you woke up tomorrow with the god-like power to build the Platonic ideal of a U.S. president, your end product would probably be neither President Donald Trump nor Joe Biden. Of course, ideal presidents don't exist in real life. But these days we could really use somebody as close to that as possible.

Because, and you may have noticed this, the U.S. is in trouble. Raging pandemic. Deep recession. Racial strife. Climate-fueled natural disasters. An uncertain place in an increasingly troubled world. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, in their new book, "The Wake-Up Call: Why the Pandemic Has Exposed the Weakness of the West, and How to Fix It," argue that neither Trump nor Biden has the vision needed to help America (and by extension the Western world) thrive in the 21st century. In an excerpt, they compile their Platonic ideal of a president by mashing together a couple of 19th-century reformers: Abraham Lincoln and British Prime Minister William Gladstone.

A President Bill Lincoln would fight racial injustice, expand the social safety net and rebuild infrastructure, while making government leaner and more modernized and uniting the world against autocrats. Biden nibbles at some of these ideas, Trump a few others. But neither offers the radical overhaul this moment demands. Read the whole thing.

Trump's Big Night

Meanwhile back in reality, Trump last night ended the Republican National Convention with a long acceptance speech/virus superspreader event on the White House lawn. Trump may regret setting the bar for Biden's acceptance speech at "read words from a teleprompter," because Trump struggled to clear the same bar. The speech was poorly written (hi, Stephen Miller!), poorly delivered and did nothing to expand his base, writes Jonathan Bernstein. Of course, it also won't matter; few votes are changed by such events anymore.

The speech was at least different from Biden's in one significant way. See if you can spot the difference in this Ben Schott word cloud:

That's right: The word Trump used most often was "Biden," while Biden didn't say Trump's name at all. It says a lot about the styles of both speeches.

Further RNC Reading:

The Fed's Big Change

Federal Reserve speeches aren't known for generating excitement, but Jerome Powell's this week will have economists talking for a while. The Fed declared its willingness to let the economy overheat in order to avoid a deflationary quagmire, and that's a significant shift, writes John Authers.

Of course, it merely codifies existing policy, writes Bloomberg's editorial board. Given how little obvious effect this policy has had on the economy so far beyond engorging asset prices, Powell or his successor may be shifting gears again in the near future.

And the Fed's abandonment of hard formulas and targets will leave expectations dangling without further guidance, writes Tim Duy. The central bank risks making policy less certain and market reactions more volatile. The new policy also puts the Fed's reputation and financial stability on the line, warns Mohamed El-Erian. But hey: More exciting speeches!

Further Fed Reading: The onus is now on the European Central Bank to evolve too, or risk seeming too hawkish. — Ferdinando Giugliano

Sports Go From Kaepernick to Kenosha

Quick, how long has it been since Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality? If you said "47 years," you're close: It was four years ago this week. A lot has happened since then: Kaepernick lost his job but became a cultural icon and a face of the Black Lives Matter movement. Police killed many more Black people, triggering an explosion of protests this year. And now entire leagues of athletes are voicing solidarity with BLM. The NBA, WNBA and some Major League Baseball players refused to play this week to protest yet another incident of egregious police violence, this time in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It's a sign of how desperate the situation is and how emboldened the players have become over the past four years, writes Joe Nocera. Their newfound unity and practicality make their protests even more effective.

Of course, athletes also suddenly have employers who are much more willing to let protests happen and even encourage them, writes Stephen Carter. Even the Washington Football Team knows society has changed and racism is no longer good for business.

Telltale Charts

The Rust Belt's pandemic resilience could be Trump's secret economic weapon in this campaign, writes Conor Sen.

Further Reading

Shinzo Abe leaves an economic legacy for the rest of the world to follow. — Dan Moss

Boris Johnson risks losing Scotland if he can't convince it of the union's importance. — Therese Raphael

China's flooding problems have only begun, and the country isn't doing enough to address them. — Anjani Trivedi

Pressure from UN nuclear watchdogs caused Iran to back down, evidence pressure works on Tehran. — Bobby Ghosh

The FDA made the right call on convalescent plasma. — Arturo Casadevall and Nigel Paneth

ICYMI

Polls may miss shy Trump voters.

Capital One cut card limits.

The pandemic makes luxury hotels homes for some.

Kickers

Central bankers could use more explanatory dance videos. (h/t Stacey Shick)

Memers are making deepfakes now.

What near-death experiences reveal about the brain.

Asbestos was once a gift fit for kings.

Note: Please send asbestos and complaints to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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