Elections

Joe Biden: Not a Socialist, Just a Scoundrel

Former vice president Joe Biden visits a Community Resource Center in North Charleston, S.C., February 24, 2020. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)
He is a vicious partisan, a coward, and a habitual liar.

Poor Bernie Sanders! The youth vote failed to show up for him. The youth vote always fails to show up — it will break your heart every time. Senator Sanders didn’t lose to Joe Biden — he lost to Tinder, weed, and The Resident. The kids were doing themselves a favor — young people have more of a future for Senator Sanders and his coterie of socialist dingbat malefactors to ruin.

Arising from the tumult, triumphant, was the dotty figure of Joe Biden. Biden and Sanders vying for the Democratic nomination, Michael Bloomberg perhaps at least dreaming idly of a third-party run — as of today, the youngest man with a realistic shot of winning the 2020 presidential election is Donald Trump, 73 years of age.

What can we say for Joe Biden?

For one thing, he is not a socialist.

So, he is not a socialist.

What is he?

He is a vicious self-serving political hack, for one thing, one whose ambition leads him from time to time into shocking indecency. You may have heard that Biden lost his wife and daughter in a horrifying drunk-driving wreck, the fault of a monster of a man who irresponsibly “drank his lunch,” as Biden puts it.

Never happened.

Biden’s wife and daughter did, in fact, die in a car wreck. That is true. It is not true that the driver of the other car was drunk, that he had been drinking, or that there was any reason to believe he was drunk or had been drinking — or even that he was at fault. The late Mrs. Biden “drove into the path of [the] tractor-trailer,” the police report says. But Biden, like every other third-rate ward-heeler of his ilk, thinks and speaks only in terms of good guys and bad guys, white hats and black hats — and if something bad happens to good people, then it must be because somebody in a black hat did something nefarious. The driver of that truck went to his grave haunted by Biden’s lies, to the point where his children were forced to beg the vice president to stop defaming their late father. The casual cruelty with which Biden is willing to subordinate the lives of ordinary people to his political ambitions — for the sake of a petty tear-jerker line in one of his occasionally plagiarized stump speeches — is remarkable.

But that’s Joe Biden. Just a regular guy from Scranton who takes the train to work (with a 20-man security detail swarming the platform at every stop and the aisles roped off to separate him from the riffraff, as I have seen firsthand) whose kids ended up growing vastly wealthy from unpredictable business opportunities to which they had no especial claim beyond their proximity to political power.

Biden was protected by the Democratic political machine and then by Senate seniority; later, he was protected by the Obama administration and by protectors of the Obama administration. And so he continues doing the same things he always has done. Some of you may remember that Biden — who got into trouble for plagiarism back in the 1980s, when I was in eighth grade (and who already was running for president way back then) — was pillaging Margaret Thatcher’s speeches (and Neil Kinnock’s, too, not that anybody remembers him) to flesh out one of his own orations. That was embarrassing. What is embarrassing is that he is still doing it, as the Washington Post reports, with his campaign stealing material for advocacy groups and presenting it as the work of his campaign.

That is a pattern. A man who can lightly misrepresent the circumstances surrounding the death of his wife and infant daughter is liable to be just as cavalier when it comes to, say, slavery, telling a largely black audience that Mitt Romney — Mitt Romney! — wants to “put y’all back in chains.” (Oh, that “y’all”!) Cynical doesn’t begin to cover it.

One of the worst features of our political life is the ugly and dishonest fights we have over Supreme Court nominations — a habit that can be laid squarely at the feet of Joe Biden, who along with Ted Kennedy, that pillar of human decency, organized one of the worst smear campaigns in modern American political history against Robert Bork, whose great crime against humanity was taking the “extremist” position that the Constitution actually says what it says rather than what anybody with power wishes it would say at any given moment, and that the way to amend the Constitution is to amend the Constitution rather than having nine wizards in black robes pull previously undiscovered constitutional mandates out of the penumbras upon which they sit all day. Don’t like the way Merrick Garland was treated? Mitch McConnell didn’t start that game — he is just better at it than his contemporary Democratic colleagues are. For lying partisan viciousness in the modern mode, Joe Biden is your man.

He is a liar, a corruptor of institutions, and a grifter of the first order.

But he’s not a socialist. I’ll give him that.

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