by Victor Hanson
These are the most radical first three months of a presidency since 1933, the most divisive—and certainly the most dangerous. And its catalyst is the myth of ol’ Joe from Scranton who has unleashed furies and hatreds never quite seen in modern American history.
“Woke” Joe Biden
At an age when most long ago embraced a consistent political belief, late septuagenarian Joe Biden suddenly reinvented himself as our first woke president. That is ironic in so many ways because Joe’s past is a wasteland of racialist condescension and prejudicial gaffes. For much of the 1980s and 1990s, he positioned himself as the workingman’s Democrat from Delaware (or, as Biden once beamed, “We [Delawareans] were on the South’s side in the Civil War.”). In truth, he exuded chauvinism well beyond that of his constituents.
Biden’s concocted working-man schtick meant praising former segregationists of the Senate like Robert Byrd and James O. Eastland. He would talk tough about inner-city predators, even as he pontificated about his support for tough drug sentencing. Kamala Harris, without any political traction other than her race and gender, once predicated her unimpressive and early aborted presidential campaign on the single strategy of knocking Joe out of the primaries for his purported innate racism that hurt victims of color, such as herself, the deprived child of two Ph.Ds.
Add up what Joe has said about race and it is hard to find any major political figure of either party who has been so overtly race-obsessed. His corny Corn Pop fables positioned Joe as the white working-class everyman. Indeed, he took on supposed gang bangers from the ghetto, standing them down, no less, with his own custom-cut chain.
On the paternalistic flip side, Joe kindly allowed young African-Americans at poolside the chance to stroke their heroic lifeguard’s shimmering golden leg hairs, or so he tells us.
As vice president, Biden condescendingly warned an audience of successful black professionals that a rather meek Mitt Romney had the superhuman ability to “put y’all back in chains.”
Indeed, he warned them in a fake black patois, reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s grating “I don’t feel no ways tired.” In Bidenland, donut shops are full of Indians and the sum total of Barack Obama is the fact he was supposedly “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
We assume then that Joe was suggesting that Shirley Chisholm and Jesse Jackson could barely speak, were unkempt, and perhaps ugly in comparison to Barack Obama. The latter, other than his diction, fastidiousness, and appearance, apparently to Joe had not much to offer the country.
It is hard to accept that these crazy musings were only the stuff of pre-woke Joe Biden. Last week in a joint press conference with the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Biden true to form referred to the 29-old Masters golf champion Hideki Matsuyama as the “Japanese boy,” as in “You got a Japanese boy coming over here . . .”
For the hyper-Left, one-strike-and-you’re-out, take-no-prisoners, media, racialist—and now president—Biden presents a dilemma: hammer him for what would have imploded other presidents? Stay mute and keep taking the hit as journalistic hypocrites and sycophants? Leak and whisper that he is to be excused on the grounds he is non compos mentis? Or leak and whisper it’s past time proof that Kamala Harris must now assume her birthright?
Joe, remember, was quarantined in the 2020 campaign. His rare communiques were prepped and edited by a cloister of handlers. No matter: even then he still managed to go full racist Joe and write off two media hosts with racial put-downs—one with that now progressive signature, condescending inner-city slang, as he announced “You ain’t black.”
When asked about his own cognitive issues, Biden snapped back at African-American CBS reporter Erroll Barrett: “ That’s like saying you, before you got on this program, you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?”
The irony, of course, is that his African-American interlocutor fit neither of Joe’s stereotypes, but his own son, drug-addled Hunter, most surely did.
Joe has been exempt from any scrutiny because he is metamorphosed into a hard leftist and thus was still useful, despite Barack Obama’s earlier prescient warning to peers, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f— things up.” Obama later repeated with emphasis that straight talk with fatherly advice about a possible Biden presidential run in 2020: “You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t.” But he really did, despite clairvoyant Barack’s fear of something like Biden’s first public 100 days.
Biden ironically benefits from the cognitive issues that surround his public appearances as though he were an equal-opportunity, reckless loudmouth, without regard to race or gender. For example, on the campaign trail, Biden called a young New Hampshire co-ed at a town hall a “lying dog-faced pony soldier.” He ridiculed an Iowa town hall white male questioner as a “damn liar” and “fat.” If a politician is crazy enough to smear strangers as liars and obese, then he can say anything, anywhere, anytime to anyone, black or white?
Joe Biden, Uniter
The message of the Biden campaign was one-dimensional: good ol’ Joe was the antidote to Trump’s tweets and leaked Oval Office trash talk. He would “unite” us. Yet, there was no proof that Biden was ever a uniter. (Remember his dishonest ad hominem interrogations of Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork?) When he boasted on two occasions of taking Trump behind the proverbial gym bleachers to beat him up, he was channeling his earlier repertoire of he-man stories of slamming faces into lunch counters and such.
But by staying incommunicado and absent from the national media’s daily photo-ops, Biden still remained everyman from Scranton. And the media agreed that in comparison to the hard-Left sorry Democratic field—Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke—Biden’s decaying conservative pupa offered possibilities.
If unity is defined as achieving record-low minority unemployment, or enhancing the entry-level wages of working Americans by curtailing massive illegal immigration or raising middle-class incomes after years of stagnation, then Biden will not be a uniter.
Calling opponents Neanderthals, chumps, dregs, and racists, and denigrating those who support modest requirements of presenting an ID to vote with slurs like Jim Crow are not lowering the temperature but vintage Biden.
NeverTrump conventional wisdom that Joe Biden would govern as a moderate four-year caretaker, restoring “decency” to the office and “normal discourse” had no support in anything Joe had said or done in the past.
Some of us warned that Joe Biden might well become something far more than just a one-term president. Rather than holding off the revolutionary Left for a term, Biden, already a resentful sort, more likely would see his presidency as a chance to be the 21st century’s FDR—and a former underappreciated understudy’s final backhand to Barack Obama who talked of, but never delivered, the progressive dream.
Joe is liberated, not shackled, by his age and fragility. Just one term, the chance that he might lose the entire Congress in 2022, the left-wing, unhinged venom of the New Democratic Party—these were never reasons to reach out or find compromise.
Rather they were urgent goads to accelerate and ram through as many structural changes that would not just move the country leftward now, but become hard to undo in the future—even without a mandate, without a majority in the Senate, without a safe margin in the House, and without an agreeable Supreme Court. The more beat-the-clock extremism now, the more left-wing canonization later.
So far the Uniter is trying to federalize all voting laws to more or less make Election Day an abstraction and to ensure that early and mail-in ballots always have an authentication rate of 99.9 percent.
He wants to pack the court, admit two new states, end the filibuster, trash the Electoral College, keep the border open, and explore reparations and cash payments to illegal immigrants. “He” of course is also a construct. Biden has outsourced all these initiatives to “experts.” They understand that a president who wishes to be remembered as great for something won’t worry much about the nuts and bolts of the operation.
Competent Joe Biden
Joe Biden was never stable or steady. Robert Gates notoriously emphasized his ubiquitous ineptitude when he said Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
A “Biden Plan” usually is a contorted mess (cf. his oversight of “shovel-ready jobs” and “cash for clunkers” in 2009, the latter being a program he now wishes to resurrect). The Biden idea to trisect present-day Iraq was a prescription for a new Middle East Balkans. He gave loud support for interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya—only to orphan them when the news cycle pronounced them lost.
In just 100 days, Biden is determined to destroy the prior calm of the Middle East by resurrecting a near-comatose Iran, as he yearns to reenter the Iran deal and all the appendages of that disaster, such as empowerment for Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis.
Yes, Putin is a thug, but a peculiar sort of one with over 7,000 nuclear weapons. So when Biden nonchalantly calls him a killer and announces he “will pay a price,” such thugs do two things: they get angry at being called what they are, and they investigate whether their offender has any clout to back up the invective.
Putin assumes that Biden, our “point man” on Ukraine from 2009-2016, was familiarly corrupt, given his braggadocio about firing a prosecutor who looked too closely at his shady family’s concessions in Ukraine. Biden was in charge during the “reset” years, when the United States forbade the sale of offensive weapons to Ukraine, following the Russian aggrandizement in Eastern Ukraine.
Biden was a status quo advocate of the pre-COVID China policy: urge Wall Street and corporate America to partner with Beijing, outsource and offshore, and claim the resulting bicoastal elite financial bonanzas would “democratize” China. Chinese state syndicators surely would soon emulate real capitalists in action and absorb their Davos wokeness and corporate panache. The richer China got, and the poorer the deplorables became, then the more China would become Carmel or Martha’s Vineyard, or Tom Friedman’s utopian Solar City and high-speed rail heaven.
Biden dropped out of two prior presidential runs for being accused of past plagiarism and biographical misrepresentation. When it was disclosed that Hunter Biden’s laptop turned up with reference to the “Big Guy’s” 10 percent cut, and when a participant in the discussions of the corrupt Biden family syndicate’s machinations over how to divide its quid pro quo spoils explained the scam on national television, Biden swore the laptop was “Russian disinformation.”
A corrupt media and a more conniving social media monopoly squashed the story. As insurance, Biden wheeled out dozens of compromised former national security mediocrities to swear he was a victim of “the Russians.” And now Hunter himself admits that he cannot quite deny that the laptop was his. That Biden slur of “the Russians did it” became even more resonant than the earlier affronts that Trump appeased them as they put bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan or he colluded with Putin to rig the 2016 election.
Historians will one day argue over the moment when the #MeToo hysteria and deductive “believe women” mantra faded out. Was it the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation zoo, Christine Blasey Ford’s demonstrable sworn untruths, and the deification of the felonious Michael Avenatti? Or was it the assertions of Tara Reade that candidate Biden had sexually assaulted her years earlier with impunity?
But whereas no one, despite Avenatti’s antics, could point to a Kavanaugh pattern of teen sexual rough-housing, Biden himself had been caught both on tape and by the public accusations of a number of women, that he is too handsy, that he hugs too hard, that he blows in the ears of the resistant, that he seems to swarm underage girls and to violate the private space of women without their permission—all to be written off as the perennially overly affectionate Uncle of a simpler, happier time gone by.
In his earlier caterpillar stage, Biden trumped Hillary Clinton’s “super predators” of the inner-city, with his own “racial jungle” talk. Now in his final moth manifestation, he retains the same racial slurs but has inversed his targets as he damns the new purveyors of “Jim Crow.” What stays the same is the signature Biden venom and the hyperbole—and his habit of projecting onto others his own tribalism.
Biden is proving the Biden he always was—as incompetent as Jimmy Carter, without the latter’s probity. He may prove as corrupt as Bill Clinton yet without his animal energy. His narcissism matches that of Al Gore and John Kerry, but without even their thin veneer of assumed authority. He is a greater racial divider than Barack Obama but without Obama’s smooth contextualizations.
And the media that hated Trump and hyped his coarseness, worships Biden’s as it masks his far greater crudity.
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Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won and The Case for Trump.