Elections

Biden, Never

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden salutes at a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, October 30, 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
On Election Day, this #NeverBiden voter will vote.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found  herehereherehere, here and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National Review editorial board as a whole.

In my 34th year of “Never Biden,” exhausted by the political commentariat’s Trump myopia, I offer some reasons, selective, that explain a complete, personal disdain for the idea of a President Biden. These reasons for opposing this vanguard of Warren/Sanders/Harris socialism, for objecting to this doddering culmination of a half-century of hackery and blarney, elicit varying degrees of disqualification and rage-inducement. The handful of reasons (there are many more) are disqualifying. They are presented without the obsession of “But Trump . . .” rhetoric — look elsewhere (the places are plenty) if that is what floats your boat. This is done with an understanding, maybe delusional but likely not, that #NeverBiden is a status that applies to many Americans.

Demeaning Vaccines

The true game-changer to this pandemic should be a successful vaccine (or, vaccines) that, if taken, would restore normalcy of work, travel, commuting, socializing, weddings, worship, vacations, camaraderie, and so much more (consumer spending) that has been curtailed and suppressed by lockdowns and other measures. Or at least, with vaccines, much would be met with far less fear. Vaccines will be empowering and restorative agents. They are deserving of overwhelming support. This summer, as Operation Warp Speed’s pedal hit the metal, Gallup reported that two-thirds of Americans were willing to be vaccinated. But then came the disingenuous and disparaging political rhetoric of the Biden-Harris ticket, which has severely harmed public support for the de facto cure: that number has dropped to 50 percent. In August, 83 percent of Democrats polled were willing to take the vaccine — as of late September that number plunged to 53 percent.

On his largely virtual hustings, the former vice president has repeated COVID anti-vaxxing rhetoric. “I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said in a September 16 speech in Delaware, which followed a meeting with scientists to discuss coronavirus policy. “And at this moment, the American people can’t either.” Infecting America’s receptiveness to an anticipated COVID counterattack was on display at the first presidential debate, when Biden disparaged the efficacy of vaccines being tested by pharmaceutical giants: “And by the way, in terms of the, the whole notion of a vaccine. We prefer a a [sic] vaccine, but I don’t trust him at all, and neither do you, I know you don’t. What we trust is a scientist.”

Trump retorted: “You don’t trust Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer?”

A moderator interruption stopped any response, but later, Trump said, “I spoke to the scientists that are in charge. They will have the vaccine very soon.” Biden attacked: “Do you believe for a moment what he’s telling you, in light of all the lies he’s told you about the whole issue of COVID?”

At the vice-presidential debate, Kamala Harris repeated Biden’s vax attacks. Mike Pence’s response nailed the dastardliness of the Democrats’ theme: “I just ask you to stop playing politics with people’s lives. The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if a vaccine emerges in the Trump administration, is unconscionable.”

Who does not believe that, should he prevail next week, Americans will hear quite different rhetoric from POTUS-elect Biden about COVID vaccines, language that in ensuing weeks will surely turn boastful and heroic and self-congratulatory? But by then serious damage will have been done — indeed, it has been done — to a greater and vital American openness to a medical counterattack to the pathogen. For Biden to have done this, willingly and willfully, is malevolent, if not demented.

Plowing the Fields of Tragedy

The awful story of the first Mrs. Biden, Neilia, is well known: Along with her daughter Naomi, she was killed in a car accident in December 1972, just weeks after her husband had been elected to the U.S. Senate. It was what it was — an accident. A truck hit the Biden car, but the truck driver was blameless. Whatever the cause, this is true: No charges were filed. Nor should they have been.

But what if the driver, the late Curtis Dunn, had been drinking?

That’s not true either. But years after this terrible tragedy — a tragedy that has generated genuine sympathy for Joe Biden, a tragedy that could not possibly generate more sympathy for Joe Biden — Joe Biden sought . . . more sympathy.

It is one thing to exaggerate your class standing, to manufacture teen tough-guy stare-downs at the public pool. But this is a wholly different strata of lying in which Biden engaged. Nearly 30 years after his wife’s death, he began telling audiences that Dunn had been drinking, that he had had the old liquid lunch (I wrote about this for NR last year). The Dunn family called out Biden — the boozed-up story was a lie. It denigrated their late dad, who lived out his years bowed by the heaviness of the tragedy. Biden ignored repeated requests to end the fictional death tale. Eventually he stopped (without apologizing). But he should never have started.

Joe Biden embellished a profound tragedy, he persisted at it, he repeatedly lied in the face of all known evidence, his exaggerations pained actual people, whose cease-and-desist requests were ignored for years. To be Joe Biden means at times to be a twisted Walter Mitty, a contriver who thrills to go down fantastical alleyways. His thought processes, his motivations, his objectives — it can combine, and does, to produce a deeply disturbing package.

Joe and the Volcano of Partisanship

When will it ever end? is the accusatory question about harsh partisanship that a projecting Left always asks. There’s a related question Alinsky’s stepchildren should ask, but don’t, because the answer includes Joe Biden: How did this madness begin?

Not kidding ourselves: Partisanship, often harsh, has been part-and-parcel of American politics since the Founding. But the intense ratcheting-up of recent vintage was precipitated on Capitol Hill a little over three decades ago. On the House side, two events broke a prevailing comity (enabled by the milquetoast Bob Michel GOP). One was the Democrat majority’s political theft of a contested House seat (Indiana’s “Bloody Eighth”) after the 1984 election. The other animus-compounding act was Speaker Jim Wright’s 1987 invention of a rules-circumventing “legislative” day, contrived in order to pass a tax-hike bill. It was an act of raw power which shocked Republican members, and played a key role in birthing hard partisanship, as well as in accelerating the demise of centrism.

Wright’s stunt was a pipsqueak compared to what was happening on the other side of Capitol Hill, where then-Judiciary Committee chairman Senator Joe Biden was engineering a scurrilous SCOTUS confirmation process that would prove harshly ideological, defamatory, activist-empowering, and word-creating (“borked”). The character assassination of the eminently qualified Judge (the late Bob Bork was a great friend of NR, and an even greater friend of the Constitution) proved a culture war broadside. After the Senate votes were counted, National Review surveyed the damage, and contended, in its “The Bork Disaster” editorial, “There are other good Supreme Court possibilities. But it’s not morning in America, baby. It’s hard-ball time.”

It has been ever since.

A few years later, still the Senate Committee’s chairman, Biden outdid his Bork performance when he oversaw the lurid confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, which the nominee aptly described as a “high-tech lynching.” Among his many unctuous acts, Biden’s eager and prolonged questioning of Anita Hill on things explicit and pornographic brought at least one viewer to tears, bemoaning how low this hack and his sidekicks had brought the Republic.

These confirmation spectacles shared a scriptwriter, a stage manager, a director. It was the senator from Delaware. But for Clarence Thomas’s confirmation, they played out how he had intended — to break American traditions and to empower the Left. We live with the consequences of Joe Biden — hot and bitter rancor that is now the hallmark of American politics, corrosive civic life, a battered American soul.

We fool ourselves to believe our coarsening politics are of a more recent vintage, of AOC and the like. The truth is the Squad has nothing on the man who fomented a generation and more of bitterness and attacks on the foundations of the Republic.

Go to Heller

Earlier this year, Joe Biden and his slap-happy rhetoric had it out with gun-rights advocates. At a Michigan event — which preceded a Biden meeting with gun-control groups — a factory worker confronted the former veep, saying, “You are actively trying to end our Second Amendment right and take away our guns.” Joe got all Joe on him:

“You’re full of sh**,” Biden responded. A Biden aide tried to end the discussion, but the candidate silenced her in order to continue speaking with the worker. “I support the Second Amendment . . . from the very beginning. I have a shotgun. I have a 20-gauge, a 12-gauge. My sons hunt,” he said.

The two men then argued about whether Biden had said he would try to take away Americans’ guns.

“This is not okay, alright?” the worker said, to which Biden responded, “Don’t tell me that, pal, or I’m going to go out and slap you in the face.”

“You’re working for me, man!” the worker responded.

“I’m not working for you,” Biden shot back. “Don’t be such a horse’s ass.”

A few months earlier, at a townhall event in New Hampshire, the alleged Second Amendment friend told the crowd, when asked about the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, that “if I were on the Court I wouldn’t have made the same ruling,” and then brandished his professorial chops to explain just what the Founders really meant:

I taught for years constitutional law and separation of powers, I taught the Second Amendment. And the Second Amendment is not absolute. And we can argue, the fundamental argument is well-regulated militia and all those things, I won’t get into that. I think that the fundamental argument is the reason that was given as a right because we needed to be able to muster people to deal with an enemy called Great Britain we were fighting in a war.

While Democrat mayors, governors, and city councils allow the emasculation of police departments and restrict policing tactics, as law and order breaks down because of willful action, while violent-crime rates increase, while criminals are protected by district attorneys, an anxious population has moved to protect itself, fearful that government is increasingly hostile to its fundamental duty. Joe Biden has already unfriended the unborn. That he now plans to stand in the way of individuals protecting family and self, and to obstruct government’s constitutional obligation to ensure domestic tranquility, comes as no surprise, and is equally disqualifying.

Commander McBragg Redux, or, Joe the Baptist

Those of a certain age will recall a regular segment on the ancient Tennessee Tuxedo show, “The World of Commander McBragg” (here’s a sample). They feature a retired blowhard officer who troubles his fellow club members with unbelievable yarns about outrageous exploits. McBragg was harmless. He was a cartoon character, after all. But there is something darkly reminiscent of him in the Democrat nominee, whose biographical yarns can also prove unbelievable and outrageous. And cartoonish.

We know of Biden’s pedigree as a self-proclaimed practicing Catholic (which on occasion has blended with his fisticuff pretensions, if one recalls his 2005 threat: “The next Republican that tells me I’m not religious, I’m going to shove my rosary beads down their throat.”) But of late, Catholic Joe has revealed to us his black Baptist religious roots: Last year, following a debate in which Kamala Harris throttled him over busing, Biden told a gathering of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH outfit that he “got raised in a black church.” Specifically, the Union Baptist Church in Wilmington, Del., where “we would go sit in Reverend Herring’s church, sit there before we’d go out, and try to change things when I was a kid in college and in high school.” Uh huh. This effort to shore up his dented civil-rights credentials has been exposed for its contrivance: Maybe he sat regularly in the back row, behind a pillar, but the fact is not a single parishioner or church official recalls Congregant Joe. You can’t see what’s not there.

Another Biden doozy has been his recent claim that he was arrested (later amended to “stopped,” because everyone knows how easily the two things can be confused) in South Africa in 1990:

“This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid. I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robben Island . . .”

Of course. And then, the dish ran away with the spoon.

It wasn’t true, but so what: Joe Biden is a habitual fabulist, equipped with a psyche that is predisposed to craft preposterous (and disprovable) serial fictions.

There is so much else that is disqualifying of a President Biden, that burnishes the #NeverBiden brand — such as the failure by the party leader (“I am the Democratic Party,” coo coo kachoo) to personally demand that partisan big-city mayors end devastating riots, his always-at-the-ready put-y’all-back-in-chains rhetoric, his openness to packing the Supreme Court, his family’s Delaware Corleone business practices, and his likely role in such. Some excellent one-stop shopping for such can be found in William Voegeli’s masterful article published in the new Claremont Review of Books.

God, Bismarck is alleged to have said, protects fools, drunks, and the United States of America. On Election Day, this #NeverBiden voter will vote, and will pray the Almighty protects the latter. We sure as h*** won’t survive the former.

Afterword concerning the Author’s Hubris

Many of the opinion class know so much more about politics than I. Granted, while most have not, I have run in a municipal Republican primary, campaigned aggressively, written copious amounts of literature, solicited contributions . . . and won; then ran in the general election, again knocking on thousands of doors and talking directly with numerous voters, and won, handsomely, served and represented my constituents (some say well), ran for reelection, won; ran again for reelection, won again (fun fact: During this period I was actually acting mayor for several days); became chairman of the local Republican Party, drafted candidates and ran the campaign for a winning ticket, served on commissions, wrote countless campaign flyers and letters and commercials for local and statewide campaigns, allegedly played a key, timely role in Scott Brown’s upset Senate win, and served as keynote speaker at many Lincoln Day dinners. All that (partial list) is presented as an act of public humility. It is embarrassing to have to admit that the political acumen of so many commentators who have never knocked on a door, asked for a vote, assembled lawn signs, worked polls, written laws . . . well, they know so much more about politics sitting in their armchairs than I do. This admission was necessary.

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