The Leader Who Never Was
The presidency of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was eerily foreshadowed by one of the most intriguing (and macabre) intelligence operations of World War II.
A dwindling bunch though we may be, most remaining amateur World War II buffs are at least vaguely familiar with the story of Operation Mincemeat, the singularly clever British deception operation that took place in April 1943 immediately preceding the Allied invasion of Sicily.
After driving the Germans and Italians out of North Africa, the most obvious next target for Allied invasion --- to both the attackers and defenders --- was the Italian island of Sicily. In order to deceive the Axis into thinking the Allies had other plans, the British barrister turned Naval Intelligence officer Lt. Commander Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley, a tall, awkwardly brilliant RAF officer with eyesight too poor to be a flyer, conceived the macabre idea of securing the unclaimed corpse of a derelict who had died in London and dressing him up as a British staff officer.
Montagu gained final approval to proceed with this unorthodox plan (Churchill was said to be very enthusiastic), working out the minute details with the assistance of a colorful group of somewhat eccentric, talented (James Bond creator Ian Fleming was attached to the same section) male and female intelligence officers.
The result of this odd brainstorm was the fictitious Major William Martin, Royal Marine, ostensibly a courier who drowned as a result of a plane crash at sea. Planted on the dead man was, besides a convincing assortment of carefully concocted personal effects, a briefcase containing contrived letters genuinely signed by high-ranking British officers including Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. These “confidential” communications, laced with intriguing bits of personal gossip concerning fellow officers, made guarded references suggesting the next Allied targets would instead be occupied Greece and possibly Sardinia.
An obituary announcing the presumed death of Major Martin dutifully appeared in the Times of London.
The body, carefully packaged in dry ice and stored in a special container, was transported by submarine to a spot off the coast of fascist but nominally neutral Spain, and released into the sea with the knowledge that prevailing tides would likely wash the unfortunate man’s remains onto the Spanish coast.
The object being --- but by no means was it a certainty --- that the many German agents in the area (Huelva) would get wind of the recovered body of a British officer with an official-looking briefcase securely bound to his wrist and, eager to impress their superiors with this potential intelligence windfall, would persuade sympathetic Spanish authorities to give them access to the contents of the drowned man’s bag.
And that is precisely what happened. The body was found by a Spanish fisherman and handed over to local authorities.
After a certain amount of behind-the-scenes maneuvering (including “alarmed” inquiries by British officials), the fake letters were indeed expertly opened and photographed, and then even more expertly placed back in their envelopes and resealed --- just as Montagu had hoped --- before the body and its contents were handed back to the British for a dignified military funeral and burial in a nearby Spanish cemetery.
The information found its way to the very top: Adolf Hitler was made aware of the letters and judged them to be genuine. However, it’s a matter of conjecture as to how much they fooled the Abwehr (German military intelligence) and its wily, anti-Nazi chief, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Some are convinced that Canaris, possessor of a mind every bit as devious as any British spymaster, divined the truth but kept it quiet; deliberately wishing Hitler to be misled in his ongoing efforts to secretly sabotage the German war effort --- a moral decision that ultimately cost Canaris and others under his supervision their lives.
In fact, the Germans did quietly beef up their defenses in Greece and Sardinia. However, the subsequent Allied landings on Sicily in July 1943 were nevertheless strongly opposed by the Axis powers. The island was taken --- leading to the downfall of Benito Mussolini --- but at considerable cost in killed and wounded to both the British and Americans.
In 1956, the story was made into a movie titled The Man Who Never Was starring the fine, late American actor Clifton Webb as Ewen Montagu.
It’s a clear absurdity to credit the Democrat party --- acting more out of desperation than inspiration --- with the ingenuity exhibited by WWII-era British intelligence. And though perhaps not entirely undeserved, even in these vulgar, say-anything-for-effect times, a direct comparison of our current chief executive to a corpse is still too cheap and disrespectful.
Yet if one resists the temptation to turn the clear parallels into nothing more than a joke, the conclusion is inescapable that in foisting Joe Biden upon us, the Dems have pulled off a deception operation that in its basic elements is uncannily similar.
President Biden, may he live many years of healthy, comfortable post-politics retirement, was nonetheless in 2020, like the made-up Major Martin, purposefully clad in a false uniform: that of a moderate, experienced, level-headed leader who could be relied upon to resist the radical excesses overtaking the party he pretended to lead.
If such a man ever truly existed in the person of Joseph R. Biden Jr., passing time has surely demonstrated it was no longer the case.
Not quite so silent, of course, as one no longer amongst the living, yet somehow afflicted with a manner of rigor mortis, ossifying his political judgment and rendering him uncomplainingly acquiescent to most of the far Left’s agenda.
However, the Democrats’ ace-in-the-hole was the dedicated collaboration of nearly the entirety of the Trump-loathing corporate media establishment. They played the role that Commander Montagu had anticipated for the Axis spies around Huelva. These news, information, and entertainment “agents” assured unquestioned, indeed fervent advocacy in support of Biden’s faux moderate trappings, and could easily be counted upon to propagate his ruse in any manner within their power.
None of it could have been possible, though, without first securing the services of the “big guy.” Not by way of a morgue as in the case of Major Martin, but still --- to put it as gently as I’m able --- from the political equivalent of cold storage. Joe Biden, the propped-up, ideologically re-engineered “restorer of normalcy” making his third grasp at the presidential brass ring. His handlers somehow judged his obvious communicative impairments as something they could reasonably manage, or perhaps even turn to their advantage, considering the distaste many voters felt for Donald Trump’s compulsive loquaciousness.
Clumsy, almost comical in its execution though it may have sometimes appeared, the Biden/Harris 2020 campaign exercise in political misdirection was despite it all a brilliant success --- far more demonstrably so than the aforementioned Operation Mincemeat.
But basement-based campaigning is one thing, governing in the glare of public scrutiny is quite another. While his critical judgment may be lying dormant, Joe’s mouth remains alarmingly active, always ready to erupt. Yes, stumbling over his words can sometimes appear quaint and disarming but, in public, he’s also proved surly, sarcastic, and touchier than Trump ever was; with an accompanying mean streak four lanes wide.
In the game of baseball, batted balls always seem to find their way to iron-handed fielders; so too, history tends to heave intractable problems at incompetent leaders. But the sequential disasters Biden’s struggled to manage in the last few months are not mere accidents of fate; they’re cumulative, with progressive policy blunders setting the stage for the next failure.
Appeasing the green new deal fanatics in their war on American fossil fuel production even before his Oval Office chair was warm, predictably pushed energy prices sharply higher, lighting a fuse to runaway inflation that’s won’t be easily stamped out. Opening the human floodgates on our now notional southern border --- aside from the exploding crime and youth-poisoning fentanyl implications --- signaled to the world a lack of commitment to the basic defense of the nation that goes beyond mere incompetence, to near self-immolation. The Taliban quite understandably recognized a propitious moment, so their offensive operations intensified, leading to our horribly ill-considered, disgracefully botched flight from Afghanistan --- for which no one has as yet been called to account. Such incomprehensible malfeasance was not lost on the covetous Vladimir Putin, convincing him his time had arrived. And so his bloody grab for Ukraine began.
The “presidential” bearing that was the major selling point of Biden’s campaign pitch is decomposing before our eyes. Always multiple steps behind unfolding events, his recent incoherence in Poland could have only whetted the appetite of any future aggressor.
So we wait for the next shoe to drop; the next tyrant convinced it’s his turn at bat. But through it all, it’s increasingly difficult to suppress the thought that we are only getting what we have richly earned; that fate will somehow exact a suitably painful price for the folly of elevating to our highest office some Joe who never really was.
Image: Imperial War Museum, via Wikimedia Commons // public domain