For too long, Republicans and the media refused to take Joe Biden seriously as a presidential candidate. It’s hard to blame them. The former vice president may poll well, but his previous stints at the White House were disastrous. His 2020 campaign has been a string of awkward public gaffes and senior moments — the old boy just isn’t all there. Even his staff seem embarrassed by their candidate. America may be the United States of Amnesia, as Gore Vidal called it, but surely it isn’t about to elect Dementia.
Or so we thought. Biden’s clear and present mental degeneration, the elusiveness of his own mind, makes him a strangely competent candidate. It’s hard to oppose, let alone revile, a man who often seems to have no idea what he is saying. Biden elicits a combination of sympathy and apathy, yet he keeps surging ahead in the polls. Unless Donald Trump stages a most extraordinary comeback, or the polls are wildly wrong, Joe Biden will become America’s commander-in-chief on January 20, 2021. Who knows, folks. Remember 2016. Are you confident that Donald Trump can pull-off another Hillary shellacking?
What would a Biden presidency look like? You better sit down.
Team Biden talks a lot about change and “transforming” America. In reality, his presidency is most likely to mean a restoration of the era of Barack Obama — a reversion to the status quo ante Trump. For millions of Americans, the promise of Biden is a return to normality and relative calm — after four exhausting years of constant conflict following the 2016 election: anything for an easy life.
But would a Biden administration make life easier for most Americans? Many moderate Democrats and independents are drawn to Biden’s campaign because they perceive him to be an old-fashioned, middle-of-the-road Democrat. He recently talked about people being “woked” rather than “woke,” which suggests a pleasing lack of familiarity with militant 21st-century identity politics. The worry, however, is that Biden’s mental state — and the fact that he may well not even complete his first term — make him a Trojan horse candidate for a radical left that could never hope to win at the ballot box. But it’s hard to tell.
For now, Biden’s curious vagueness is useful. He means different things to different Democrats. That could all change as Election Day approaches and his candidacy comes into sharper focus. As of this morning, he still had not chosen his vice-presidential candidate — a decision which, more than any of his policy “task forces,” will indicate which direction his administration might take.
If Biden’s leadership follows Obama’s “hope and change” path, that would mean at least four years of disappointment — no change, even less hope. Most of the so-called achievements of the Obama presidency have already dissolved. Team Biden has been smart enough to realize that the old center does not hold. He has worked hard to occupy some of Trump’s political territory. Biden has made firm noises about China, for instance, even if his record in office suggests he has an alarming willingness to do Beijing’s bidding. He’s also promising to protect and create American jobs by tightening “Buy American” laws.
Still, it seems highly unlikely that Biden’s trade policy, or his State Department, would be anywhere near as aggressive as Trump’s in tackling the aspects of globalization that most concern voters. There are already troubling signs that a Biden administration would be stocked with and surrounded by precisely the sort of corporate and foreign lobbyists that have so corrupted Washington. For instance, it recently emerged that the parent company of the Chinese social media company TikTok – the same company Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has suggested should be banned in America — has hired key Democratic operatives ahead of November. Wonder why?
After eight years as Obama’s vice president, Biden pictures himself a man of the world. No doubt his presidency would be far more internationalist in its outlook than Trump’s. That’s good news for the climate change lobby, the foreign-policy establishment and multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union. It may not be so welcome in the Heartland of America, though. It’s worth remembering that Joe Biden, reaching across the political aisle as he often has, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq war. He also favored US intervention in Afghanistan and Kosovo. As something of a hothead even in his twilight years, he would be quick to rattle America’s saber at any enemy, real or imaginary, that came to his mind.
All political careers end in failure, said Enoch Powell, who was only 65 at the time. Biden will be 77 on Election Day. His geriatric run for the presidency might prove that saying wrong. Then again, his might be the first presidency in recent decades to begin in disappointment. The last three one-term presidents were replaced by dynamic leaders with bold, reforming agendas: Hoover lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt; Carter to Reagan; George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton. The leap from President Trump to President Biden would be far less exciting for certain. Trump offered America a different way ahead. Biden offers nothing new. After the constant uproar of the Trump presidency, Biden will not be a relief. His election will be the democratic equivalent of a giant shrug.
Can this Joe Biden pull it off? In his four-plus decades in Washington, he has made several runs for the White House. Unfortunately for Uncle Joe, each has been railroaded by verbal missteps: his own. Stealing speeches from other politicos didn’t help him in any of his doing so. I guess he never thought about history and media files that record pretty much everything important today. And today we have YouTube!
Will this Joe Biden pull it off? One thing is certain: if there IS a Joe Biden presidency, it most certainly will NOT be filled with sweeping legislative, foreign policy, or military accomplishments. It is more likely that in a Biden Administration, little would be done initially, and conventional wisdom is that whoever enters his Administration as VP has a really good shot at changing the administration’s name very early in its infancy.
Americans should be more concerned about that than former Vice President Joe Biden screwing things up too bad. He would almost certainly be content with just stepping aside, knowing that he finally made it to the White House – as something other than a Senator or Vice President.
You know: a presidential legacy. God help us if THAT should happen!