Politics & Policy

Who Broke Politics?

The name is Joe. Joe Biden.

Harry Truman said that for the first six months he was in the Senate, he couldn’t believe he’d gotten there. After another six months, he couldn’t believe they’d gotten there.

Barack Obama didn’t hang around the Senate cloakroom long enough to pick up the word on Joe Biden. He didn’t realize that Biden is something of a joke in the Senate.

Isn’t it curious that in 36 years, Biden’s never even been mentioned for Majority Leader, or even for Majority Whip?

Obama’s claim to be a “post partisan” candidate is belied by his choice of the vicious, knee-groining Biden as his running mate. Barack Obama, in his electric acceptance speech, claimed that “politics is broken.” A reasonable question then is: Who broke politics? Much of the credit for the brokenness of politics must go to that political leg-breaker, Joe Biden.

One leading example of how our politics is broken is the judicial-confirmation process. Judicial confirmations used to be civil affairs. They used to be honorable contests in which both sides sought to review the record of the distinguished jurists who sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Joe Biden can claim the lion’s share of credit for turning judicial confirmations into lions’ dens. As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden presided over the “Borking” of Judge Robert Bork. He was the chief Kleagle for the “high tech lynching” of Clarence Thomas. He tried to go after Roberts and Alito as well. He is not known as the “smiling barracuda” for nothing.

Ironically, not one of the men and women who have come before his committee would have survived one day if they had been proven to have plagiarized major speeches and law review articles — as Biden has been found to have done.

Perhaps because of his own shady past, Biden has seemed determined to impugn the integrity, intelligence, and the competence of all those with whom he disagrees.

Try to recall the confirmations of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer.

Remember the fireworks? Remember the inquisitors bearing down?

Did anyone steal their video rental records — as they did with Judge Bork

Did anyone ask them to share their religious beliefs under oath — as Howell Heflin did to Robert Bork? Did anyone allow lying testimony about a questionable sexual comment to be puffed into a national scandal — as they did with Clarence Thomas? Did anyone drive their spouses from the hearing room in tears?

No one can remember such outrages committed against arguably the most liberal justices ever confirmed. That’s because Republicans still believe in civility. They still believe in the rule of law. They’re trying to repair the process that leg-breaker Biden broke.

Biden presided over a remorseless struggle in which only the strongest can survive. He did not want simply to reject Clarence Thomas, he wanted to destroy the man, send him back to Pinpoint, Ga., stripped of honor and dignity. Justice Thomas prevailed because of his unflinching courage and massive self-control.

With Joe Biden, you don’t reach across the aisle. You retch across the aisle.

For this rancid record, Biden not only should not be vice president, he should not even be in the Senate.

— Chet Arthur is a nom de cyber for a Washington, D.C., political veteran.

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