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

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Joe Biden–A Man Of Platitudes And A Vaporous Mind

The movie ‘Being There’, starring Peter Sellers as Chauncey Gardner (aka Chance, the Gardener) is a hilarious send up of American politics and the gullibility of its politicians.  Chance, a simple-minded man, is a gardener who works on an estate, and through a series of coincidental events, becomes the trusted advisor of both his wealthy patron and the President of the United States.  Chance only knows gardening but his remarks about roots, rain, seasonal cycles, and flowering are taken by the President as metaphors for the economy, and Chance is assumed to be a man of particular insight and philosophy

Image result for image peter sellers movie being there

President "Bobby": Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?

Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.

President "Bobby": In the garden.

Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.

President "Bobby": Spring and summer.

Chance the Gardener: Yes.

President "Bobby": Then fall and winter.

Chance the Gardener: Yes.

Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we're upset by the seasons of our economy.

Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!

President "Bobby": Hm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I've heard in a very, very long time.

President "Bobby": I admire your good, solid sense. That's precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.

The difference between Joe Biden and Chance the Gardener is only that no one makes the mistake of taking Biden seriously.  His rambling, incidental, and completely random metaphorical allusions, are not taken to be words of wisdom, but the inchoate musings of a failing mind.  Biden has recently been on tour to Europe to participate in yet another round of global warming crisis conferences.  He is there to pledge America’s continuing support to reduce carbon emissions and to do whatever it takes to once more become a responsible member of the community of nations. 

The annoying ankle-biter, nag, and darling of the progressive Left, Greta Thunberg, is there to hector and shame, to wake up these old men, capitalist shills, and political hacks and get them to do something! Of course Presidents Putin and Xi chose not to attend. The endless rounds of eyebrow-knitting, guilty confessions, and feelgood promises to make the world a better place are not their thing.  

Putin, who knows that Europe’s appetite for Russian gas is insatiable, will keep on exporting it and using it as an intimidating political tool.  Supply and demand, says this reconstructed old Communist, and true to Machiavelli and Kissinger, will use power to further Russia’s own ends.  

Xi, nationalist par excellence, benign autocrat, and smart politician knows that a) to establish and maintain economic and geo-political preeminence the country must burn fuel in promethean quantities; but b) the big cities are choking in fuel-related pollution.  He has understood the problem and like Putin true to Machiavellian wisdom, managed a way to address both issues.  He wants nothing to do with ‘global responsibility’, breast-beating, and mea culpa.

Image result for Images Machiavelli. Size: 186 x 110. Source: www.barnesandnoble.com

Conferees, however, stumbled over each other to shout je m’accuse! – I am guilty and heartily sorry – to ceremonious applause; but will return home to do nothing, to blame everyone else for not pulling their weight and dooming the planet with their indifference, and to continue on the path of economic growth. Not surprisingly just prior to the conference, the EU announced that not only had it not met the climate goals of the Paris accord, but pollution was increasing apace.  

Global warming has become the centerpiece for liberal politics around which all other social reforms revolve.  It is capitalism, after all, which is the real culprit of global warming, and no program for reversing it can possibly succeed without the rolling back, dismantling, or even denying the market economics that underlie it; and once capitalism is taken on headfirst, its pernicious role in systemic racism can be exposed and eliminated. 

So President Biden, latter day Chance the Gardener, is on stage, front-and-center as all American Presidents are expected to be, reading hesitantly, and painfully slowly from prepared texts, and mouthing platitudes about ‘doing our part’, relieving the misery and hopelessness of the black and brown people of the world who suffer most, and regaining and restating the Christian morality dismissed by selfish, hard-hearted, and money-driven politicians so recently in public office.  When the ankle-biter characterized the conference as nothing but ‘blah blah’, for once in her young life she was right, and President Biden was the windiest, airiest, most gaseous and vaporous of the lot.

Bill Clinton described himself as a policy wonk, a master of facts, figures, and boring details, and so he was indeed; but he had the gift of gab as well, and in policy speeches to the nation and to the international community, he spoke of these data in common parlance, but with undiluted logic, precision, and rhythm.  He built strong, rational, arguments for his case.  He impressed with his mastery of facts, and with his quick and agile mind he deftly answered questions and challenges. No platitudes there because none were needed.  Clinton understood factors, variables, and parameters and could present arguments on any policy issue clearly and forcefully.

Image result for images bill clinton president

Ronald Reagan, no Bill Clinton and no man of great intellect, was never vaporous.  He clearly, succinctly, and passionately enunciated the four or five basic principles which underlay his policies.  He didn’t need to elaborate details, use pristine logic or elegant phrasing to convince others.  Small government, individual freedom, private enterprise, military strength, and patriotism were easy enough to understand.  Listeners knew that Reagan meant what he said, and while he turned over execution and administration to his lieutenants, he was the undisputed leader of the country and influential player on the world stage.

Donald Trump was no man of platitudes and vapors.  Although he was no man of academic intellect or interest, he was smart, savvy, and in his own theatrical way just as convincing as Reagan.  Trump made no bones about his distaste for liberal cant and sanctimony, progressives’ presumptuousness and self-righteousness.  He would accept nothing on faith, no science was settled nor any political philosophy. 

All of which is why Americans have to look away when President Biden takes the world stage.  His gaffes, mumblings, non sequiturs, and ramblings are bad enough at home, but abroad?  His handlers have become adept at managing their boss, giving him a restricted list of questioners at press conferences, urging him to stay on message and above all not to speak ad lib; but he is largely on his own when he stands at a foreign lectern.

Image result for images ronald reagan president

A good lesson can be learned from presidential appointees who during Senate confirmation hearings have become adept at evading questions, deflecting inquisition, and demurring.  

In one recent episode, however, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana exposed the shameful performance of Elizabeth de Leon Bhargava, nominated by President Joe Biden to be Assistant Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  She did what she was told – to evade, demur, and above all to say that she will take the Senator’s insightful and relevant comments under advisement – but did so with so little intelligence, awareness, and understanding, that for all to see she was but one more of Biden’s own Rainbow Coalition, candidates for high office chosen for their race, gender, or ethnicity and little else.

It is all well and good to deflect, evade, and demur; but one has to at least look like they have the facts, the competence, and intellectual ability to administer national programs.  Bhargava and Biden unfortunately have none of the above; and in their polite deference to ‘future study’, they only look disoriented and lost.

The recent election in Virginia (11.2.21), victory for the Republican gubernatorial candidate, combined with Biden’s historically low approval ratings, have given expected life to the Republican party.  Their Virginia candidate’s positions on education, race, social policy, taxation, and public spending were all consistent with a conservative agenda, one which will be presented during the mid-term Congressional elections of 2022.  

Democrats, meanwhile, are in a dither.  Their man is making no sense, has presided over unpopular and clearly failed policies on Afghanistan, the Mexican border, public spending, taxation, and education, and seems not even to know where he is.

Perhaps Biden’s handlers should let Joe be Joe, speak in downhome homilies, airy metaphors, and with a romantic lyricism.  In so doing they could create a likable persona that would be more appealing than the current one. Not more presidential perhaps, but at least genuine. At this point, the Democrats are scurrying around for answers, so this might be just the one.

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