I’ve been holding my fire, ‘cause fair is fair; we had to give Biden a little time to either break his previous mold or prove to be the war mongering corporate stooge he’s always been. The latter was always more likely but there was a slim chance that a man of his advanced years would want to be remembered for something besides mass incarceration and making it harder for people to declare bankruptcy. I know exactly two voters who thought Biden should be the president on his own merits, and not just relative to Trump, but I know a lot of people who got caught up in the “Dear Leader,” state TV style coverage of the inauguration. Those folks are mostly silent now as Biden demonstrates the kind of bait and switch “leadership” that’s made the Democratic brand so toxic since the Clinton era. Let’s take a look:
The self-described “union man” remained entirely silent as Amazon workers voted to unionize in Alabama, until under pressure from even friendlies in the press, he finally issued a lukewarm statement supporting the vote. Not the union necessarily, just the vote. This is inarguably an improvement over his old boss, who took $400 million from organized labor then screwed them over for 8 years like it was his job (which, along with a 22% spike in Obamacare premiums in several swing states right before the 2016 election, is a criminally under-examined element of Trump’s victory), but it seems like a union man might want to be a little less ambiguous about his support for the most important union drive since the 30’s. The fact that Jay Carney, Biden’s communications director in the Obama White House, is now doing the Lord’s work as Amazon’s chief PR flack, ain’t helping the optics among those who are paying attention. Like the workers taking the vote.
This is a classic Democratic Party maneuver: pretending that you can’t do something that you actually can do because of procedural obstacles or Republican opposition. That’s how Barack got away with dropping the promised public option from Obamacare, after making a secret backroom deal with insurance and drug companies. In reality, Harris can overrule the Parliamentarian. So why doesn’t Biden have her do it? It goes back to the General Unifying Theory of the Democratic Party: the donors wouldn’t like it. Most of the time when Democrat politicians say one thing and do another, all you have to do is follow the money to figure out what they’re doing and why.
‘Cause why not? Especially on a Friday. Just a little TGIF love to all the defense contractors. And let’s face it, nothing says, “America’s Back Baby!” like bombing the fuck out of a Muslim country. And when you pluck a Defense Secretary right from the board of Raytheon, you’re kind of telling people straight out that we’re going to be finding lots and lots of pretexts over the next four years for making lots and lots of bombs. At least we’ve got a black man bombing brown people now, which is surely a great comfort to them.
Biden claimed at a town hall that he can waive $10,000 in student debt, but not $50,000, once again using the procedure excuse. There’s actually no legal basis for that claim. He just doesn’t really want to waive student debt. Which should come as no surprise, given that Biden is as personally responsible for the system of student debt peonage we have today as any living politician.
While soft-pedaling it on every key policy promise, he’s still pushing corrupt political hack and professional asshole, Neera Tanden, for a job which she is completely unqualified for, while hiding behind claims of racism and sexism as the nomination blows up in his face. Someone told me after the election that the “smart money” was on Biden appointing some progressives to his cabinet in a spirit of reconciliation. Given that Biden wouldn’t even hire them for his campaign, the real “smart money” knew he wouldn’t put any in his cabinet. Instead, they’ve tried to rebrand people like Tanden, who in the past has advocated for cutting social security and Medicare, and invading Libya for their oil, as progressive. Not like the Blue MAGA’s are going to argue.
When you stand up in the middle of Georgia and loudly declare that if the voters elect Democrats to the Senate, they’ll be getting $2,000 checks “immediately,” most of them think that means they’ll be getting $2,000 checks immediately. Not $1,400 checks eventually. If you don’t understand why that might piss people off, you’ve probably never really, really needed money right away, or been in a position where $600 was all that stood between you and homelessness. That being the case, your political opinions here are about as useful as fishing tackle in the Mojave. For the sake of not making more Republican voters, you might wanna sit this one out.
That’s an incomplete list of some of the lowlights of the new administration. I ain’t gonna go so far as to say that the new boss is the same as the immediately preceding boss, but the new old boss is definitely shaping up to be the same as all the Democratic bosses we’ve had from Clinton on down. Which is disappointing, but shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who looked into Biden’s record before they voted for him, a group that presumably excludes most of the people who did so in the primaries.
The difference for Biden from the most recent Democratic presidents is that he has assumed power in a much poorer, sicker, and more desperate America, with an organized left that’s paying attention. Sure, the suburban base would watch Biden take a shit on the desk in the Oval Office and call it ice cream, but the number of people who are that mindless has dwindled in direct proportion to the share of national wealth that ends up in the hands of the citizenry. That’s the thing about crooks: they never know when to leave well enough alone. They always have to push it, until they break it. America has been driven to a breaking point by its oligarchs and a corrupt political system whose primary purpose is to serve their interests, and Biden is the last person to summon the imagination or political will to either understand what America finally snapping is going to look like or do what would need to be done to prevent that from happening.
‘Sides that, unlike Slick Willy, and Barack, Biden is a congenital moron, with the speaking skills of an angry drunk two steps into the program. Imagine Uncle Joe trying to sell people on the idea that the meaning of “is” is up for debate, as Clinton did, or fake-drinking poisoned Flint water to convince people that its safe, as Obama did in a bit of black-on-black prop comedy violence. While the press has been applying the same kind of obscurantism that critics deploy to convince us that crappy modern art isn’t crappy to Biden’s God-awful speeches and town hall appearances, there’s only so much they can do to cover for a man so intrinsically dumb that he had to drop out of his first run for the Presidency after getting caught plagiarizing a speech, without even bothering to change its biographical details.
Given that he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer in his prime, putting a sundowning Biden in charge of a crumbling America was always bound to look something like this. Cabinet appointments that often feel like they were produced in a process that involved shaking up two paper bags, with one labelled, “Donors We Have To Fellate” and another labelled, “Members of an Identity Group,” then affixing the results to a corkboard; identity politics deflections from all questions about or criticisms of said appointments (the real purpose of the aforementioned corkboard selection process); bullshitting about what he can and can’t do without Bill and Barack’s ability to really convince anybody; picking the kinds of pointless fights that angry drunks pick, like the one currently unfolding over Tanden.
And we haven’t even crossed the 100 day mark yet, after which things always get a lot harder, even for a President who didn’t Forrest Gump his way into the job. We’re rushing quickly towards the day when the North Korea-style press coverage, can no longer credibly paper over Biden’s deep flaws and personal defects. Which is why reports of the demise of the Republican Party should be regarded as greatly premature.
We discuss these topics and more on episode 108 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:
Photo: Jonathan Ernst, Reuters