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Thursday, July 9, 2020

When Uncle Joe Lost His Marbles - The Scramble To Put Them Back In And The Election Of 2020

Everyone said that Uncle Joe reminded them of Joe Biden.  He was kindly, always a broad smile on his face, generous in his thoughts and consideration of other people, and most of all his quiet, unenthusiastic, but sincere demeanor.  Uncle Joe had a responsible job – manager of the ball bearing division of Universal Steel which had long ago bought up Fincher Bearing, a New Brighton industry which had provided essential parts to fight two world wars other lesser international conflicts.  Without Fincher ball bearings moving parts would grind to a halt.  They were as indispensable to aircraft engines, wheels, and gears as oil.  Fincher had been a proud company, and when Universal bought them and moved the operation to Muncie, Indiana, New Brighton mourned the loss of 250 well-paying, skilled jobs.

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Uncle Joe began working for Fincher fifty years ago when New Brighton was still the center of industry that it had been since the Civil War.  Its factories made locks, hardware, tools, and dyes as well as ball bearings, and Uncle Joe quickly made his way up the corporate ladder from junior accountant to senior assistant manager to general manager.  Although reluctant to move away from New Brighton and his friends, his life was the company, his be-all and end-all; and he had no hesitation in moving himself, wife, and family to the Midwest.  After thirty years in New Brighton he spent another twenty in Muncie, and although by now he was well beyond retirement age, he had no intention of retiring, another quality which reminded his friends of Joe Biden.

Image result for Images Joe Biden

Both men were wedded to their jobs, performed their jobs more than creditably, and were happily there for life.  Of course Joe Biden was picked to be Barack Obama’s Vice President, but that job was as predictable, unnoticeable, and unrenowned as that in the Senate.  In both roles Biden was dutiful, faithful, and more than willing to let others take the credit for what he did or did not do. 

Of course in the current election cycle, those in the opposition insist that he actually did nothing in the Senate which for him was largely a sinecure.  Delaware is a very small state and everyone knew their Uncle Joe, were happy enough with the money he directed to the state, did not expect much national influence from his mild, unassuming man, and kept in office forever.

Our Uncle Joe had no political aspirations, and that really was the only difference between the two men.  Both were honest, unremarkable men who were moved along thanks largely to their ‘humility’, a generous term which meant to most lackluster ordinariness.  Contrary to popular opinion there is room for the ordinary man in the higher echelons of American society.  

Uncle Joe could never be accused or even suspected of any wrongdoing or untoward personal gain.  He preferred to take his promotions as they came along, not to jockey for position at the expense of the other guy.  His quiet, demurring way was extremely valuable in a corporation where generally you had to watch your back.  At least when Uncle Joe was around, you could relax.  He would do his work, and you would do yours.

Some political observers compared Joe Biden to Hubert Humphrey, the so-called Happy Warrior, Senator from Minnesota and as good-hearted as the people from his state.  He was ebullient, effusive, and expressive; and although his opponents said he was garrulous, prolix, and and big talker, he never lost an opportunity to stand up and rattle on about his progressive agenda.  He, like Biden, was a two-term Vice President (under Johnson), a service which must have been penitential for a man of his talkative penchant. 

Humphrey rarely had a public platform and most people forgot he was there.  Such is the fate of Vice Presidents and Joe Biden – as garrulous as Humphrey but without the underlying political principles that drove the Senator from Minnesota into politics – also suffered under Obama.  It was just as well because Biden had earned the reputation of a disconnected, errant thinker in the Senate.  Few could follow his oratory, rambling and disjointed as it was; but because, like Humphrey, he was a likeable man who never caused trouble, they let it pass.

Image result for the happy warrior hubert humphrey

Which is where another unfortunate similarity became evident.  Uncle Joe began losing his marbles but only one-by-one, so his decline was easy to overlook, particularly as he reached his seventies when most people lose at least some of their intellectual acuity.  His colleagues and co-workers gave his momentary lapses, forgetfulness, and somewhat disconnected speech a pass because he had always been so stable, so unchanging, and so completely unremarkable that it was unthinkable that any change could come about in this man for better or worse.  It was easy to reschedule missed appointments, edit emails, and redact all his conference speeches. 

Over the next few years however, just past his 75th birthday, it was clear that he needed help.  An aide always stood by his side at the lectern when he gave presentations about the new X-500 bearing, soon to be the standard for the industry and the go-to piece for Boeing and Lockheed.  The aide was chosen for his own demure, respectful demeanor and his surprising and quite remarkable ventriloquism.  As Uncle Joe’s ability to make sense increased, the aide whispered every line to him with no one in the audience noticing.  He was as good as Edgar Bergen.

Image result for images edgar bergen and charlie mccarthy

More and more his minions took over for Uncle Joe, and he became a happy, gregarious man without a real thought in his head.  Luckily he had chosen his lieutenants well, and they more than compensated for Uncle Joe’s absence.  As far as the company was concerned, it would be better if Uncle Joe retired to fanfare and celebration rather than be urged out; but because of his innocuous but pleasurable personality and presence, they took no action. Only when the marbles finally rattled and rolled out of the wagon, did they scramble to put them back in and usher him out the door.

Uncle Joe was as happy as anyone can be in dementia.  He, unlike others, saw no demons or black, frightening, apocalyptic landscapes.  He drifted into his own world of fabulist visions and fantasy.  He had dinner with the Pope at the Vatican, performed nightly at a male strip club in St. Louis, and shot back and forth in time between the Age of Empire and Soviet Russia.  He was just as personable, engaging, and insubstantial as he ever was; and only those who understood that despite his fabulist visions, he was still their Uncle Joe.  It was hard for his children, of course, who kept trying to reel him back to reality, correct him on his dates and places, but to no avail.  Uncle Joe had crossed the river and was quite happy to be on the other side.

Joe Biden, thank the Lord, is nowhere near this unfortunate demise.  He only sometimes has that deer-in-the-headlights look of confusion or that lapse in trend of thought that suggests something amiss; but because his handlers and media shills take it for what it likely is, they have encouraged him to stop speaking off the cuff, to always use a teleprompter even in his basement where he has been bunkering during COVID, and never, ever agree to debate Donald Trump, a master at the top of his game – quick-witted, fast-thinking, true stage presence – an actor, a vaudevillian, a snake-oil salesmen and master of ceremonies at a three-ring circus all rolled up into one. 

Thomas Friedman, a liberal columnist for the New York Times suggested that Biden only debate Trump if the President released his tax forms – a silly, impossible request with which he knew the President would never comply.  Other Democratic operatives have set equally foolish conditions to the debates – that there be, for example, a real time fact checking program in place so that the President ‘can’t get away with his lies, distortions, and deliberate deceptions’.

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Since Biden has a history of rambling, incoherent speeches in the Senate even when he was a young man, it is hard to tell whether his current lapses are just Joe being Joe or whether they are signs of the marbles starting to rattle and come loose.  In any case, his campaign staff wants to take no chances whatsoever.

While our Uncle Joe was still standing and in place at Universal Steel’s Ball Bearing Division, his hardworking, devoted, and responsible minions carried on his work with care and precision.  Uncle Joe was never a man of ideas or vision and neither were those chosen by him.  His group was a well-tuned managerial unit which was constituted to keep the ball bearings online, out the door, and installed at Boeing. Nothing more was expected.

There is no such a benign, dutiful group of supporters around Joe Biden, however.  The man, never known for large ideas, big thinking, or interesting principle, has veered so far to the left that most can only conclude that he is run by  a claque of progressive radicals who have articulated a socialist platform.  This platform, if implemented, would distribute wealth, stop all energy exploration and production, defund the police and return the maintenance of law and order to the community, establish clear racial preference, rewrite history, rewrite English, and turn public schools into re-education camps. 

Such intentions are not the manufacture of conservative media, but validated, expressed, recorded statements of Sanders, Warren, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Pressley, and Omar. It is this stable of political wannabees; young, ambitious minority women; and older politicians fading fast and looking for a last hurrah, who will run President Biden.  He can fade off into his own private world and be totally absent. This is exactly what his radical progressive Rasputins want and hope for. 

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The day that our Uncle Joe ‘retired’, Universal Steel gave him their medal of honor, threw a great party in his honor, issued hundreds of press releases about the man, his career, and his achievements.  Uncle Joe by that time had no idea what was what, was propped up on the dais and accompanied by his ventriloquist handler in the unlikely case that he had to say a few words, and was as happy as a clam.  Some of the applause and adulation made its way through to his brain more inhabited by Aesop, La Fontaine, The Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen than Paul O’Reilly, President and CEO of Universal Steel or the young, stylish women seated around and behind him to give some color and sex appeal to a ceremony of suits. 

As the months and few years left to Uncle Joe went on, he became more and more demented; but, like Joe Biden and Hubert Humphrey never lost the engaging smile on his face.  Once his office was cleared out and occupied by his first lieutenant, memory of him faded quickly; and by the end of the year it was, ‘Joe who?’  Of course that ignominy was totally lost on Uncle Joe who had no clue who he had been or even who he was.  He smiled at his Dominican caretaker, the night nurse, and family members who came occasionally to visit, but he could have been smiling to elves in the forest.

Losing one’s marbles is not a pretty thing, but almost inevitable.  Maybe our marbles will not start rattling for some years to come, or perhaps they will fall out of the wagon clacking and banging in one loud clatter; but in either case a whole new world awaits us; and as much as others may scramble to put the marbles back in, they are gone forever.

In these days of electronic airbrushing, digital reconfiguration, and virtual reality, know one will know if President Biden has lost his marbles or not.  One can only hope that: a) that he is fine, not demented, and simply an old political hack looking for vindication; b) that he never ever becomes president; and c) if dementia is on the way that he has a happy one like our Uncle Joe.

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