"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Mueller, Schmueller–Flapdoodle, Joe Biden, And The Triumph Of Donald Trump

It is hard not to feel sorry for Joe Biden, the nearly octogenarian newly-announced Democratic candidate for President of the United States.  He has always been a decent man, a man of rectitude and principle, temperance and moderation, compromise and  value. His Vice-Presidency under Barack Obama was predictably dutiful and unremarkable; but all Vice-Presidents are expected to be quiet junior partners.  The Vice-Presidency is hard for most politicians who have built their career in staking out positions and arguing in their defense.  Joe Biden was always known as a garrulous man who loved to hear his own voice; but he was never accused of being venal or overly self-interested, just happy to express his views in which he passionately believed.  Older Americans remember Hubert Humphrey, the Happy Warrior, an equally garrulous man willing to set aside his personal beliefs for the sake of White House harmony and loyalty – a thankless task in the White House of one of the most arrogantly self-assured presidents ever – Lyndon Johnson.

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So little was heard of Joe Biden while he served Barack Obama – some ceremonial witness, ribbon-cutting, and dutiful participation in Cabinet meetings; and even some heart-to-heart talks with his boss who was also known for his own compassion and good sense – but little more.  Nothing in the way of policy statements, white papers, or new ideas.  Yet Biden always assumed, as do most Vice Presidents, that his day would come.  Incumbency, even as second-in-command, is usually rewarded with electoral victory, and that he was the obvious choice for the Presidency once Obama left office.  Unfortunately the tragic death of his son intervened, and Biden, true to his principles, sadly removed himself from the race.  He simply would not be able to be the happy camper that had always characterized him.  His withdrawal led the way to a Hillary Clinton candidacy, a mismanaged, arrogant, entitled run and her ultimate defeat.  Many Democrats, who knew that Biden was the better candidate, privately blamed him for Trump’s victory.

Either to atone for his questionable demurral – after all, true patriots always put country first – or to add some weight and experience to the crowded, young, ultra-liberal Democratic field, Biden has announced his candidacy.  For those who remember Biden for his decency and his political moderation, his entry into the race was applauded.  The more that the Democratic party turned radically left, the greater the chance for another Trump victory, and Biden was the party’s savior. 

Their hopes were quickly dashed as Biden rushed to the far left.  In his very first speeches he proclaimed that he was the only true progressive in the race, the champion of race, gender, and ethnicity; the distribution of wealth, the curtailing of corporate and Wall Street greed, retribution and restitution for black Americans, and an outspoken advocate for the gender spectrum.   The only chance that Uncle Joe possibly has in his unlikely run for the presidency is his centrism, his patriotism, and his solidly middle class American values.  Yet, there he was, courting the same ragged progressive fringes as his nineteen co-candidates.

In short, he joined the anti-Trump hysteria. As much as many Americans hated Richard Nixon for the brutal bombing of North Vietnam and his hypocritical public statements about bringing peace to Asia, there was never the assumption of evil  that is laid on Donald Trump.  Nixon was an overly-ambitious, psychologically damaged, vindictive president who made bad choices.  His overweening pride and political amorality led to the Watergate break-in, cover up, and dirty tricks.  His continued prosecution of the Vietnam war despite obvious defeat was politically unrealistic was a product of his Cold War, Fifties anti-Communist past. 

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Donald Trump on his very first entry into national politics was vilified, condemned, and ridiculed as a sexist, racist bigot with no moral core.  He was a circus performer, a Hollywood entertainer, and the very symbol of crass American vulgarity.  If nothing else, the progressive Left has always imagined itself as intellectual, righteous, and morally superior -  an elite with a God-given right to govern, the only political movement with uplift, progress, compassion, and fairness as their hallmarks.  They are serious, committed people with no trappings, no glitz and glamour, no shameless displays of wealth.  And here comes this interloper, this cultural pariah from Las Vegas, Hollywood, and the mean streets of New York – a huckster, braggart, and embracer of all that is low-bourgeois – gaudy mansions, arm candy, yachts, and penthouses.  He, if one is to believe the hysteria of the Left, is the devil incarnate. 

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In the past the political opposition in Congress and the media would have focused on a president’s political misdeeds – Johnson’s geopolitical ignorance, Nixon’s Cold War mentality, Obama’s naïve liberalism, Bush Junior’s military presumptuousness and yellow cake gullibility – and would have mounted rational objections, alternative policies, and remedial programs.  The man was less important than his actions.  There was nothing fundamentally wrong with any of these former presidents; and while they were as much as anyone influenced by their past, their upbringing, their character and personality, their political decisions were not judged on their moral rightness or wrongness but their geopolitical credibility.  It seems impossible for the Democratic Left to assume the same, objective posture.  Donald Trump, in their opinion, is not seriously flawed, but innately and irremediably immoral.  It is not just political expediency which has influenced his attitudes towards any of his firings, evasions of investigation, and reticence about affairs he considers personal and privileged, but an assumption of a fundamental human flaw.

Joe Biden knows better.  There is no such thing as an evil president, only a bad one; and as bad as a president may be, he reflects the Americans who have elected him.  Donald Trump did not come out of nowhere, some weird alien interloper.  He came directly and squarely out of Middle America – the America which believes strongly in religious fundamentalism, social conservatism, individual liberty, and freedom of expression; but also loves Hollywood, Las Vegas, glitz, glamour, and fake news.  Most of us lead lives far too dreary to have patience with the truth and nothing but the truth if there ever was any such thing.  Image is what we have grown up with, and image is what we want.  If fact and fiction, image and ‘reality’ are hopelessly mixed, who cares?  If life is a side show, then why not enjoy it?

When Trump announced that he was going to open the border to illegal immigrants on the condition that they be shipped to, housed, and cared for by sanctuary cities, the Left howled foul – how hypocritical, how insensitive, how ignorant, they said.  Yet Trump supporters loved him for it.  He was sticking the whole sanctuary city, politically correct nonsense in the eye of his adversaries.  That’ll show ‘em!  Of course he had no intention of carrying through on this policy; and like many such exaggerated statements said to make a point, he did it only for show.  And what a show it was on MSNBC and CNN and in the New York Times.  Trump triumphs because of his outrageousness – a posture that no one has ever had to face before. “He is not acting presidential”, say his critics longing for Pablo Casals and Robert Frost in the Kennedy White House, good, traditional Anglo-American culture.

Yet Joe Biden took the bait.  He wants so desperately to become president and has for so long that he has forgotten why he is running and runs anyway, that he swallows his pride, temperance, and good sense, and endorses the most wild and impossible schemes of Kamal Harris, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and all the rest.  It is a sad and sorry spectacle.  The poor guy has no chance and he doesn’t even know it.  No one wants an old geezer, a blabbermouth, a Hubert Humphrey happy guy, and a political moderate in their midst.  His Democratic rivals will humiliate him if he has not already humiliated himself.

Image result for images hubert humphrey

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