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

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Joe Biden And The Great American Divide - Political Fracking And A Cabal Of Fools

"Honey, the tea's ready", said the First Lady to her husband one early morning  

The President was slow to rise today, this of all days, the kickoff of his political campaign for re-election.  Of course he, like all politicians, had been running forever, such is the nature of electoral politics in America.  Yet this time seemed different.  He wasn't quite up to it and had rather stay in bed than face the questions.  Oh, yes, there were questions, many of them unspoken but written on the faces of his advisors, about his competency  He had up till now paid no attention to the uncomfortable looks, frowns, and fake smiles, but his inner voice was more niggling and irritating than ever before "Joe, are you sure, Joe? Are you really sure?". 

He wasn't at all sure when he met LaShonda Ebbers, the first to meet him once he had made himself presentable and smiling had stepped out of the Presidential bedroom to greet his staff.  She had been more and more insistent these days as she had seen her bailiwick - DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) - eroded by conservative court victories.  


The Harvard decision was particularly hard to swallow, neutering as it did affirmative action and dismissing decades of hard work to restore the black man to his place atop the social pyramid.  As a proud black woman she felt betrayed and dishonored, and her dander was up.  No cornpone, backwoods crackers were going to spoil her day, and she wanted to be first in line to insist that the President man up and do the right thing.  Blackness, not Ukraine or Palestine, was to be the main course on the White House menu. 

The President greeted her warmly, took her hand in both of his, and smiled broadly at what had become a royal pain in the ass.  Black this, black that.  For God's sake didn't she and her DEI claques know there were two wars going on and that high-sidewalled fat geek in Pyongyang was rattling his cage? 

"Please, Mr. President, puleeze...", she whined, but before you knew it, the President had moved on down the line to greet his covey of advisors just as insistent and whingey as LaShonda Ebbers.  There were transgenders to think about, Mr. President, and the climate, and the needy asylum-seekers at the border. 

The President smiled at each an every one of them, giving them a nod of assent, parsed for deeper meaning.  'He noticed me...he agrees with me...he supports me', they hoped, but as he doddered down the carpet, they wondered if he noticed anything these days. 

'It wasn't always like this', the President reflected.  'Why, in my day we talked across the aisle'.  He remembered a Senator from Alabama, a hoary old gentleman with a patrician cavalier accent, as segregationist as they come, but otherwise a good man, a model of Christian morality, social rectitude, respect, and diligence.  Joe was his political godson and and the old man took him under his wing until the younger man realized that the public would only see slave auctions, whips, and mulatto mistresses. 

Of course Joe knew better than that.  The Senator was as gentle as a lamb, his segregationist sentiments were no more than tipping his hat to ladies or going to church on Sunday - part of a Southern legacy of Spanish moss,  cypress swamps, pecan pie, and alligators. 

'Nope, never knew him', the President had become accustomed to saying once race became a hot topic in America and he had been chosen to lead the way of a misled and disillusioned people back to civil righteousness.  In fact Joe had had to jettison many of his old buddies from across the aisle, no-no acquaintances in an era of political absolutism.  Either you were for social justice, reform, and equality or you were not, it was as simple as that. 

The President's staff had been told to keep his inbox uncluttered and only a thin briefing folder was to be put on the Lincoln desk in his office; but that, these days, was becoming too much for the President who wanted to focus on simpler things than energy quotients, the calculus of interest rates, and climate algorithms.  "That Rodney King fellow was on to something", the President mused. "Why can't we all just get along?", but those days were long gone, and he knew that the enemy was at the gates, the parapets about to be scaled, the walls breached and the city burned. 

"We must scatter them like rabbits", said his chief policy advisor increasingly concerned by the increasing popular support for Donald Trump.  "We must make them afraid, very afraid", he said and outlined his ideas for turning up the heat on the former president; but Joe had been down this road before and taking licks at his predecessor didn't feel as good as it had.  The man had already been cast as the spawn of the Devil, so what more was there to say? Better to focus on what he, Joe Biden, had done. 

Easier said than done, for the President's track record was as potholed as a country road.  Nothing seemed to resonate with the populace any more.  Why couldn't they understand that open borders meant a quicker end to white supremacy and a truly rainbow nation; that trimming the ambitions of energy tycoons was a sensible climate response; that the black man had waited far too long for social supremacy and unquestioned righteousness; and that gay and transgender Americans were sick and tired of being in the closet. 

Yet fewer and fewer voters were listening to this litany, and the President was getting booed at his whistle stops to Middle America - cafes, diners, shoe shops, nail salons and other small businesses where he thought he would not be heckled but was set upon by 'MAGA crazies' who thought he and his claque of rainbow fools were the crazy ones.  

"I am here tonight", he said to a scattering of people in a small town in Pennsylvania, not far from where he had spent his early years, "to bring you good news"; and then the caterwauling began, MAGA plants to be sur, said the President's advisors, nothing to worry about, just talk over them; but it was the same from place to place.  The people wanted nothing of what he was selling and ran him out of town like a snake oil salesman or shell game charlatan. 

"There were no black people in the crowd", the President noticed; and that was why, suggested his team, that his message of the rise of the black man, white supremacy, and inherent, systemic racism did not take hold.  "These folk are crackers", said his DEI Advisor. "Fuck 'em"; but of course Joe had to at least pay lip service to those disinclined to vote for him, and continued to stay on message. 

What the President should have seen as he made his impromptu stops throughout the heartland, was that this was no longer 'One Nation, indivisible' but a thoroughly divided one, ruptured, split, and divided thanks in large part to his party's focus on diversity and inclusivity, patently transparent covers for identity politics - the notion that our separateness, our racial and ethnic character, is more important than a universal ethos, a common morality and vision. 


There has always been a universal code of moral and ethical behavior at the foundation of every successful civilization.  Honor, justice, courage, respect, discipline, and compassion, principles taught by Cato the Elder as part of his education of young Roman leaders are no different from those of Ancient Greece, Persia, or Great Britain. 

Seneca, Epictetus, Plutarch, and Cato the Elder were Roman moralists who provided the intellectual and philosophical foundations for the education of the future leaders of the Empire.  All of them stressed respect, honor, discipline, empathy, intellect, and reason.  The young Roman aristocrats may have been born with wealth, breeding, and culture; but without the foundation of a moral education, they would weaken and both they and the empire would suffer. The self-confidence needed to be a Roman leader, these philosophers knew, came from a certainty about moral principles.  Right action would be rewarded and respected.

All gone, history, the dust bin, faded antediluvian ideas from a remote, white discredited past, said Biden's inner ring.  For all Trump's Sturm und Drang he was on to something, even the most obsessive social activists admitted - there once was a common ethos in America, a code of ethics and morality to which everyone subscribed.  We were a nation of individualists, Jefferson said, but whose responsibility lies in their respect for the communities which enable them to prosper. Now, said conservatives, we have strayed far from Jefferson and the Founding Fathers and even farther from Roman philosophers.

All of this was lost on Joe as he went from stop to stop, banging on about diversity, the black man, the alternatively-sexed, the transgender, and the woman, urging separateness, identity, and social distance.  

Ronald Reagan understood this dilemma best, and when he talked of patriotism and the Shining City on a Hill, he was referring to the United States as one, unified, undivided nation.  He was no xenophobe or Fifties throwback, but a man who understood the essence of civilization.  Joe Biden hasn't a clue. 

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