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Friday, July 9, 2021

Joe Biden, Old Age, And Making No Sense–Palace Coup Or Out To Pasture?

“I can do it myself!”, Joe snapped to his Vice-President who stepped in to assist him order his thoughts.  Why does that bitch keep interfering? he muttered to himself as he buttered his toast, wiped the jam off his lips, cleared his throat, and doing his best John Kennedy imitation said, “Let me say this about that”. 

He shuffled through his notes, now smudged with peanut butter, looking for some reference to the point he was trying to make  – something about inflation or deflation – but couldn’t find it.  “Must be buried here somewhere”, he muttered as he shuffled his briefing papers; then, frustrated and angry as the papers scattered all over the Lincoln desk and onto the Washington carpet, he turned to one of this aides (a girl from Kansas City he remembered although her name escaped him), smiled, nodded in her direction, and said, “Why don’t you answer that”. 

As far as he could tell, the young aide did a fine job.  He recognized many of her words, but not strung in any particular order.  Was inflation going up or down, he wondered even after hearing the aide’s exposition? His mind wandered to the cross-country trip he had taken as a college student.  Fagged and bored by the end of the outward bound leg to California, he and his friends decided to truck it back East non-stop, taking turns at the wheel.  One night after a particularly long turn driving, Ned had asked him, “Am I going up or down?’.  Fatigue and monotony at night often distort sensations, and indeed Joe himself couldn’t tell whether they were ascending the hill or descending.  “Just keep driving”, Joe said, “and we’ll find out soon enough”.

Image result for images buffalo on montana range

“Mr. President”, Kamala said to him, gently.  “Mr. President, do you have anything to add?”.

Of course he wanted to embellish on his story of the trip with Ned and Kirk, the buffalo on the Montana range, the girls at the roadside stop in Kansas, and the bickering about Mars bars vs Three Musketeers; but there was something in Kamala’s look that told him to smile and move on.

Up to this point Vice-President Harris had been a dutiful servant to her Commander-in-Chief, helping him through his pauses and lapses, carefully and respectfully nudging him aside when she saw him get that goofy look on his face.  She saved many an Oval Office meeting and in close consultation with the President’s Chief of Staff, they managed to keep in-person meetings to a bare minimum and keep those that absolutely had to be kept on the docket to ribbon-cutting and medal-pinning.  

The ordre du jour was developed by both of them, and for each obligatory meeting, a Presidential stand-in was chosen.  On a recent meeting on climate change, the Environment Czar, after a few adulatory words from the President, took over the meeting, presenting the latest facts and figures on the crisis, engaging those experts especially picked in support of the Administration’s policies, and turning to the President for his final salutary words.

Image result for cartoon kamala throwing biden in wheelchair off a cliff

To the Vice-President’s credit, few people questioned the daily demurral of the President.  In fact they took it as a sign of good management after four years of braggadocio, pomposity, and baloney from You Know Who. This president, they said, is keeping his own counsel, engaging his staff, considering differing opinions and living his commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

It wasn’t long before the President’s respectful silence became par for the course; and after a while no one noticed that he was missing.  He had assembled a strong, can-do cabinet who were quite capable of standing out front on the issues and working behind the scenes to assure expeditious progress for the Administration’s ambitious agenda.

But of course, Biden was still the President, and when he wanted to intervene, even his closest, tightest handlers had to let him speak; and short of sequestering him him in his chambers,  they had to let go.

“I remember when I was a boy”, the President began, “and we prayed for the rain to stop before our big game; but our prayers went unanswered and we watched the field turn from that magical diamond of brown dirt and white chalk to a muddy, slimy mess.  I would not be able to hit a home run that day, wave to may parents, or leap over the fence to catch a fly ball.  Did that discourage us?  Did that dissuade us from prayer? No Siree, Bob.  The next bright, sunny day, we were out there again, thanking God for his bounty and asking him for an extra boost in my bat….”

Image result for image fifties boys playing baseball

Here the President trailed off.  He had lost his way.  He knew that the rainy day had something to do with climate change, but he could not quite put his finger on it.  Once again, his Vice-President stepped in, thanked Biden for his homily and pertinent reference to the fate of the nation’s children if we did nothing about climate change, and turned the microphone over to the Congressional firebrand who was a political persona non grata in the White House but a young woman who loved to hear herself speak, loved her fawning press, and loved her new iconic status.  Kamala knew exactly when to trot her out, and this was one of those moments – her outrageous performance would quickly make people forget the President’s boyhood memories.

The President privately thought that the Congresswoman was a hot ticket; but he knew that he could not show any of the affection that he once did.  It was true what they said, that the Presidency was the loneliest job in the world.  You were surrounded by people far more ambitious than you, younger, with more juice, spark, and spirit than a room full of Joey Bidens, all ready to take your job.  Well, let them, here I am pushing 80, let the young have their day, and let me be free to dream about…..

Once again the President was roused out of his reverie by Vice-President Harris who seemed to know exactly what he was thinking.  Was I too obvious looking at her, he thought, meaning the young, beautiful Congressional firebrand?  Perhaps so.  Good thing I have Kamala around.

The Vice President understood that she was in a win-win situation.  The more she helped the President out of his sticky patches, the more she was considered a good lieutenant and a faithful servant; and the more she did so, the more she highlighted the President’s growing incapacity and it would only be a matter of time before she declared herself President.  

She could put up with this sham Presidency for only so long, covering for the doddering Biden.  Yes, she was acting in his stead; and yes she was becoming the de facto President, but that was not enough.  The trumpets still sounded Hail to the Chief when he came walking down the aisle, not her.  That had to change.   

Palace coups were not America’s thing, but there were many lessons to be had from the history of deposed European monarchs.  It could be done here.  She had her sex and her race on her side.  There would never be a more protected, propitious moment for her move to the top.

Those of us nearing Joe Biden’s age have to feel sorry for him.  He never should have taken the job in the first place.  Forgetting things, wandering, mistaking the neighbor for the the mailman, days of non sequiturs and fuzzy recollections, going in wrong doors – that is our life and we wouldn’t wish it on anyone let alone our President.  Yet, as much as we can sympathize and empathize with him, we deserve better – a diminished President, an ambitious, no-holds-barred Rasputin behind the throne, and a gaggle of ideological crazies in the wings is not our idea of governance.

It won’t be for long.  The midterm elections of 2022 are certain to turn both House and Senate back to the Republicans, and then it will matter little whether puppet Biden or heir apparent Harris is actually warming the Presidential chair in the Oval Office.  Politics and palaces being what they are, hold on to your hats.  There is no pasture in President Biden’s future.

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