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

Sunday, May 26, 2024

'I Was At Woodstock' - Joe Biden's Fabulist Electoral Imaginings

Every politician on earth makes shit up. They can't seem to help it.  It goes with the territory, a caveat emptor, a sucker born every minute, you can fool most of the people most of the time, extended to electoral office.  Stretching the truth is very American, and we take it for granted that snake oil cures constipation, that Billy Graham believed the nonsense he preached, that Elizbeth Warren was a member of the Pequot tribe, that Mark Sanford was actually on the Appalachian Trail and not with his Argentine firecracker in Buenos Aires and that Bill Clinton 'did not have sex with that woman'.

We all lie on our tax forms, 'work late at the office', and come up with the most cockamamie excuses for everything from not taking out the garbage to delinquency.  We are inveterate liars, conventionally and predictably fast and loose with the truth.  It is in our collective genes, it is our permanent zeitgeist, our national ethos. 

We are gullible, credulous, and impossibly idolatrous.  Despite lying through our teeth every day of the week, we believe what we hear.  Madison Avenue can shuck and jive and sell every little thing on the shelf with the most obvious, ridiculous claims, and we buy it; buy it until the closet is filled with depilatories, teeth whiteners, potency pills, and hair restoring gels.  

We believe the fabulist nonsense of Congressional shills who claim America is going down the drain, the Pentagon generals who hope the Chinese will do something stupid so that they can take the lid off their nuclear silos, and the weird, fabulist bullshit that gender is interchangeable.  

The trick is looking good.  Barefaced lies are not incidental but practiced.  The pitchman, the politician, the conman, the fraudster, and the trickster have to look, sound, and feel like they are telling the truth. We don't want to believe some storyteller who makes things up as he goes.  We want either the semblance of truth or the semblance of a soothsayer. 

So when Joe Biden claims he was at Woodstock, no one believes him because he is not a believable liar.  He lives in a world of mystery Santas and Halloween goblins.  He is no longer one of us and hasn't been for a few years now. 

He could have been there is his go-to meme. Since he always espoused the ideas of the Sixties generation even though he was honing his free lunch, money for nothing, chicks for free political career in Delaware he was of the Woodstock generation. One of us, one of us, a man who grew up fibbing until lying became his.  He once admitted that he made up sins in the confessional just so he could impress the priest but 'forgot' to confess the real ones which were piling up. 

All well and good, Joe Biden the politician never met a baby he didn't kiss or a whopper he didn't tell. Par for the course; but when his mind started to go and he couldn't remember what he had for lunch let alone what was what, the natural political instinct to confabulate got boosted into the stratosphere.  More and more he believed that he was on the Pettis Bridge with MLK, at Columbia with Mark Rudd, a leader of the Free Speech movement at Berkeley, and shoulder to shoulder with Mandela in Johannesburg. 

However when he said that he had been at Woodstock, loved the one he was with, and even riffed with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, everyone knew that he had gone around the bend.  This old man who was an old man in the Sixties could never, ever have been at Woodstock, and with that most believers left the room. No one wanted a fictitious president.  The New York Times at first held back on fact-checking in a give the President some leeway; but soon had to check the record, and found that he had never been closer to Woodstock than the Bronx. 

'It was metaphor', said the President's press secretary when challenged. 'A figure of speech, a reflection on the seminal moment of the Sixties, the beginning of our progressive movement of day, the first expressions of racial solidarity, the fight against injustice, the generational....'; but here she was shouted down.  The press had had enough of her presidential toadying, and demanded to know whether the President had finally lost it. 

THE PRESIDENT AT WOODSTOCK! went viral and thanks to AI had him up on stage with Jimi, off tune and starry-eyed, long-haired and stoned.  Before the fact checking had doused the story, the President and his Woodstock story were pilloried on late-night television, savaged in the conservative media, and ridiculed from Bayonne to Oakland, 

'What got into you, Joe?', his wife asked him at bedtime. 'You know you weren't there'; but the President was adamant and insisted that he had driven up there with five friends in a VW bus, stayed in the rain and the mud until it was over, and 'had a great time'. 

Now, if someone with even a hint of cool had claimed he had been at Woodstock - George W in his drinking days for example - the story might not have caused such a kerfuffle; but when the likes of Joe Biden, the least likely politician to ever have strayed from the straight and narrow, an inveterate loose-lipped storyteller, and man who would do anything to get elected said he had been there, every American howled. 


Poor Joe, what a way to end a career, said his supporters; but the end had been in the cards for some time.  The man was no longer making sense. The minute he went ad lib he wandered into the weeds with stories about the nuns at St. Aloysius and the kitchen garden behind his house.  He no longer could remember what leaders he actually met with and which ones he thought he had met.  Before long he would forget who he was, not a problem said Republicans who always knew there had always been an empty suit in the Oval Office. 

'It could have happened' was the viral meme that made the rounds and captured the essence of Biden's loosening grasp on reality; and when faced with the fact of Donald Trump, bald-faced, outrageous and unrepentant braggadocio and teller of tall tales, it was no contest.  Trump never claimed he was telling the truth.  'I am an American', he shouted -  tummler, snake oil salesman, a huckster, a vaudevillian, a big top performer - and voters preferred a man like that on Pennsylvania Avenue, not the old guy who had no clue that reality was well beyond him 

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