I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart, or head, for Joe Biden. Of all the U.S. senators in my lifetime, he was the most regular guy — rather a dub, and not the brightest bulb on the tree, but kindhearted and unpretentious. My cousin, Judge William Marvel, was the former Democratic Party chairman in Joe’s home county, and surely voted for Joe at least four times between 1972 and 1990. So did this William Marvel, albeit indirectly, in 2008 and 2012. I wouldn’t have done so had his running mate not been so young and healthy.
Joe is lucky. His amateurish bumbling endears him to people. His life’s tragedies, including the deaths of his first wife and two children, and the disreputable transgressions of his remaining son, have generated enough sympathy for him to distract from inevitable questions about his competence. The sheer length of his political career obscures the causal connections between the policies he supported in the past and the unfortunate consequences he promises to battle today.
Joe’s lifelong ambition for the presidency were guided by his political positions more than by principle or national interest. His and Hillary Clinton’s license for the invasion of Iraq, grounded in calculating consideration of their own presidential aspirations, figured hugely in my decision to leave a Democratic Party too cowardly to confront the neocon agenda. Since then, that party has gone completely off the rails, but it was Joe’s trolley to the White House. By pandering liberally to radicals, and abandoning his last conservative beliefs, he finally fulfilled his dream. Even with abundant cover from his media guardians, he only managed a 51-percent majority against the most unlikable and erratic president in American history, but now he’s in charge — or so many think, including Joe himself.
Since his inauguration, it has become increasingly obvious that either Joe has forsaken the plodding moderation on which he campaigned for the nomination, or — more likely — that he is not really calling the shots. His inaugural pledge to reunite the country was naively inspiring, but he surely didn’t write those words. His speech to Congress shows he didn’t mean those words, either. He avoided or ignored every olive-branch opportunity.
He could have acknowledged that the last administration fast-tracked vaccine development and approval. Instead, he took full credit for the pace of inoculations.
Ditto for employment: Joe claimed 1.3 million new jobs in his first 100 days — “more than any other president. If “creating” new jobs warrants presidential praise, the Trump administration “created” 4.8 million last June alone, exceeding 1.3 million in July and again in August. That cherry-picked, meaningless boast stank of Trumpian deception. A week after he spoke, April job-creation came in at a paltry quarter-million.
Each of the endless new entitlements Joe proposed represented a sop to the radicals who control him. Initially he avoided badmouthing the United States, but eventually he wandered into the progressive mantra of systemic racism, voter suppression and all the other nefarious elements of the left wing’s cultural chimera.
Promising to end our “forever wars,” Joe nevertheless portrayed himself as a tough customer for the world’s aggressive authoritarian regimes. He vowed to maintain a strong presence in the Indo-Pacific. Let’s see how he handles China’s threatened intrusion into the Atlantic, or the military installations on those manmade islands China built during Obama’s watch in international waters.
My worst fear during the Trump years was becoming involved in a major military conflict with an impulsive narcissist in charge, but a doddering old man is no comfort, either. At first I rejoiced at Joe’s ability to memorize his congressional speech, which showed greater cognitive capacity than he had yet demonstrated, but then I saw a wide-angle photo of the event, with the teleprompters.
His speech included a few verbal gaffes and stumbles, as always, but that only enhanced his common-man image. It’s Joe’s genial, pedestrian aura that makes him the perfect figurehead for implementing a radical transformation of the government. He will be subjected to apt comparisons to Paul von Hindenburg in future histories of the foundation of the American People’s Republic — provided such a republic survives long enough to warrant a history.
William Marvel lives in South Conway.