Joe Biden's Political Obituary
Barely a year into his term, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. is suffering a precipitous drop in all polling categories. The recent mid-midterm elections signaled a strong rejection of his policies and his allies. Rather than a historical pendulum swing, the nation is awakening to a severe and legitimate case of buyer's remorse.
Voters' forbearance of plagiarism evolved to excuses about his lying; their indulgence of "gaffes" gave way to "Good Old Joe"; concern for his public confusion has become alarm over numerous signs of senility. With no obvious "czar" pulling Biden's strings, the nation rapidly is seized by the realization of a dangerous vacuum at the top levels of American power.
The decades-old euphemism "gaffes" once protected Biden from serious examination of his incessant imbecilities. Most recently, in Europe, he clownishly braced the pope as if he were a buddy at a Labor Day event, and he stumbled around the fringes of summit meetings like the "Where's Waldo" character.
Recent events confirm the growing fears, or realization, of the American public that the presidency of Joe Biden is inept, inefficient, and — except for toxic aspects — inconsequential. In order to move on, an obituary can sort out the dispositive elements of the crisis.
That Biden has advanced this far in public life is a testimony to the existence of sinecures in democracies. Biden has profited from his own perfect storm of political pandering, a small-state electorate that easily is flattered, and Delaware's coteries of corporations and credit card companies.
A distinguishing characteristic of Biden's five decades in public life is the remarkable fact that the man never developed a national constituency, neither during his interminable presence on C-SPAN as a Senate committee inquisitor nor in quadrennial grasping after presidential nominations.
History will record that this political grifter succeeded, to the extent he has succeeded — that is to say, finally able to sit behind the Resolute desk — largely due to two factors not of his own design.
The first propellant is the stranglehold of the press on public discourse. For two generations, the "national media" have shown their partisan fangs, running the gamut from liberal to radical. Biden has been the recipient of this largess and was spared any reasonable examination of his spectacular subnormality.
The second gift that fell in Biden's lap was Donald Trump.
Making promises and keeping them, Trump exceeded the dreams of old conservatives and social traditionalists and left America built better in areas of the economy, foreign affairs, employment levels, and energy surpluses. Trump and his iconoclastic worldview, his modus operandi, the ways in which he "gets it" in contradistinction to accepted things as they are, all represented greater threats to the Establishment than any of his individual policy successes.
So Trump had to go. All the resources of media, politics, business, diplomacy, and statecraft were recruited. They succeeded. He went.
An astonishingly mediocre gaggle of nonentities presented themselves in Democrat primaries for the honor to do battle with President Trump, and they rapidly revealed themselves as court jesters at best. Eventually, Biden was the candidate of plausibility, rather than consensus or acclimation, and then was costumed essentially as the non-Trump.
Since 2015, every method short of assassination had been tried to suppress the Blue-Collar Billionaire. Biden, when they blew off the dust, provided the elements of a marriage made in Heaven after all. The Establishment's candidate looked avuncular — a calm, reassuring "moderate" (despite one of the Senate's farthest-left voting records), singing the required tunes, possessed of no backbone. Central casting.
More than the Non-Trump, Biden summoned all his vestigial energy and became the Anti-Trump. He has not merely reversed or diminished, but rescinded — canceled — virtually all the manifold and historical successes of the Trump era.
Never have so many babies been thrown out with one tub of bathwater.
With empty theatricality and almost mechanical zeal, Biden played chief high executioner more passionately than he fulfilled his role as chief executive. On the subject of zeal, Biden seems more willing to catnap during meetings and conferences than to answer the questions of reporters, even questions from hand-picked sycophants.
A characteristic aspect of Biden's disconnected persona, his fixed stare into the middle distance, cannot be attributed to tippling. (He assured Pope Francis that, "honest to God," he was one Irishman who didn't drink — a typically confusing non sequitur.) The deaf-and-dumb act has been his trademark since the Nixon years, possibly exacerbated these days by advanced age. True, his presidential gait is different, making him look as though he has forgotten to unfasten his pantaloons from the clothes hanger each morning. Similarly, he occasionally freezes in odd poses, as if our video signal has been interrupted.
Throughout his career, Biden has always chosen the mundane and uninspired. Inured to both shame and conventional dignity, he enjoys lapsing into the bravado of a local councilman and dispenser of Blarney-like anecdota, even tales long-discredited and corrected by his staff. Barely concealed is his transcendent but hollow ambition, aiming no higher than a secure mediocrity. Joe's wind-up toy performances are of "default" modes, even from the Oval Office, and on display every day that he actually shows himself to the cameras.
Yet even wind-up toys wind down.
That Biden's presidency deserves an obituary should inspire no joy. The administration is, after all, less than a year old. Its manifold and serious failures do not suggest that he should be removed from office, despite infractions like defying court orders over border matters and betrayals related to Afghanistan. To stop short of wishing for his early retirement also is political wisdom animated at least by the horrific prospect of a government that would be handed to Kamala Harris. Further, in the nightmare scenario, Nancy Pelosi would be next in line to pollute the Oval Office. So Biden has a form of security, even if Americans increasingly feel less secure with him serving as president.
Do allied leaders, with whom he recently bumped elbows, feel any more secure? Can Taiwan believe that President Biden would militarily, or even diplomatically, come to its assistance when attacked by the People's Republic?
At his most transparent, Biden ultimately seems to be too dense, rather than too honest, to be the "real deal" of his tired act (as much as a man with hair plugs, capped teeth, Botox treatments, and facelifts is able to be "genuine"). When he interrupts himself, perhaps 10 percent of the time in a canned speech and says, "I'm not kidding; this is no joke; I'm being serious here," it is a giveaway that during the other 90 percent, he is kidding, joking, and not serious.
In politics, as in other spheres of life, old dogs seldom learn new tricks, even when elevated to the presidency of the United States. History has often been kind when previous second-rate men and political nonentities have "muddled through" or have been carried by combinations of competent allies or by circumstances. But this early in an administration, especially one beset by so many consequential challenges, it is proper to compose a frank political obituary and pray for some sort of adequacy to fill the presidential void.
Rick Marschall is the author of 74 books and, currently, three weekly blogs. A former political cartoonist and columnist, he has taught at four universities and lectures widely. He has written for American Thinker, RealClearPolitics, Th
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