Who's the Real Joe Biden?
Is there any such thing as "the real Joe Biden" in the sense of an actual, breathing human being with enduring loyalties and principles? His long political record and recent behavior provide some idea.
The choice of Kamala Harris as running mate is one indication. Harris has often been described as a "politician on the make," someone who will do whatever is expedient. Writing for RealClearPolitics, Debra Saunders calls Harris a "progressive opportunist." Yves Smith, looking through her less than progressive record as California prosecutor, would alter that to "opportunist to the core."
Three months ago, Harris almost knocked Biden out of the primaries with her cunning debate performance — now who cares if he opposed bussing? She gave every indication of thinking Biden was unfit for the presidency — now she thinks he's perfectly fit. What she seems to care about is being one heartbeat away from the presidency — with a president who might be in very poor health.
So she's the perfect pick for Biden, who has shown himself to be just as much an opportunist as she is.
In addition to being an opportunist, what stands out about Biden is that he's been consistently wrong on the issues throughout his career. As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden oversaw the nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, both of whom he opposed. The Thomas hearing was the worst debacle of its kind, up to the Brett Kavanaugh ordeal, during which Biden "released multiple statements in support" of Kavanaugh's accuser.
So Biden was wrong about Bork, wrong about Thomas, and wrong about Kavanaugh. If elected, he may get to appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices. That's a chilling thought.
While serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden opposed the first Gulf War in 1991, after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia and its vast oil fields. Had he occupied Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Saddam would have controlled half of the world's oil reserves at the time. Surely, that ought to have caused Biden to reflect on the consequences, but apparently it did not.
Biden then supported the second Gulf War in 2002 but opposed the highly successful surge in 2007. When he and Obama prematurely withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011, it led to the immediate rise of ISIS and the murder of tens of thousands of Christians. Then, in 2015, Obama and Biden signed the Iran deal that sent $100 billion to Iran and legitimized Iran's building of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, President Trump has destroyed ISIS, withdrawn U.S. troops from Iraq, brokered peace between Israel and the UAE, and begun to bring Iran to heel. There is no clearer contrast than in the foreign policy of these two candidates.
Much is made of Biden's 1988 act of plagiarism of Labor leader Neil Kinnock — an act that would have gotten him expelled from any decent university — and of his many gaffes. But as an op-ed in Newsweek points out, it's not just that one instance of plagiarism; it's a pattern of "stealing" that continues to today, with Biden's "Made in America" stance stolen from President Trump.
As the Newsweek op-ed goes on to say, Biden's "unity platform" is cribbed from Bernie Sanders, and his climate and education stances are taken from other left-wing sources. Even in law school, Biden was accused of cheating. The Newsweek op-ed is correct in stating that Biden's history of plagiarism shows that "neither he nor his political team have a clear, independent vision for the country" and that his inherent lack of principles is a "danger" to America.
It was his lack of qualities or principles that made Biden an appealing running mate for Barack Obama. Obama did not want a strong personality competing with his own vision for the country. In Biden he apparently saw a politician who would go along with anything.
Does the real Joe Biden really support Medicare for All? The question is moot because there is no "real" Joe Biden. Does he support defense cuts or increases? It depends on the polls. Does he support slavery reparations or federal spending on abortion? It depends on whether these stances add votes.
Even questions of public support for one position or another are rendered irrelevant by the fact that Biden would likely be, and see himself as, a one-term president. As such, he would have free rein to support whatever positions he liked, however unpopular. But that raises the problematic issue of what Biden "likes."
Other than a desire to become president, it's difficult to say. Voting for Biden is like voting for the wheel on Wheel of Fortune: no one knows just where the pointer will land — except that it will land to the left of President Trump.
As a Trojan horse progressive, Biden would impose large new taxes; end deregulation; cut defense spending; oppose gun rights and the right to life; expand affirmative action; bow to unions, trial lawyers, and environmentalists; and kowtow to minorities and gays. In other words, he would continue the longtime assault on mainstream America. Biden's policies would result in a stagnant economy, worse than the Obama years, and in an endless chipping away at our liberties.
A Biden presidency, because of its very indefinability, would create chaos. It would also further divide the country as the political vacuum created by this Nowhere Man was filled with the adherents of all sorts of progressive causes and identity politics. Unlike Biden, those far-left activists know exactly what they want. They want a socialist totalitarian state.
That really should terrify conservatives.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).