Biden’s Failing Presidency is a Tragic Reflection of America’s Decline

by Russell Dobular

These days Joe Biden is a tragic figure and also a symbolic one. As he dodders and mumbles his way through the rare press conference and occasional speech, it’s hard not to feel like we’re into the final scenes of King Lear, with the monarch’s mind crumbling under the weight of too many cruel realities arriving at a time in life when he is least able to manage them. Watching him try – and fail repeatedly – to master situations from Covid to Afghanistan to a dysfunctional Congress, gives one the uncomfortable feeling, no matter your politics, of catching a glimpse at our own national reflection. 

If Trump represented America’s wounded Id having a tantrum, Biden is its increasingly out of touch Ego, seeing a man of 35 in the mirror, even as everyone around him prepares to fight over the estate he’s going to be leaving behind very shortly.

As in any great tragedy, the seeds of Biden’s destruction were sown in the very moment of his triumph. Having resoundingly lost the first three primary states, he was rescued only by divine intervention, or the Democratic Party equivalent: an intercession by his old boss, Barack. But there are consequences for foisting a candidate on the public that no one particularly likes, trusts, or believes in. In exit polls, 44% of Biden supporters saw their vote as a rejection of Trump. Only 54% saw it as a vote for Biden. For Trump, those numbers were 22% and 75% respectively.

It could be a case of Yeats’ lines regarding the lack of conviction among the best while the worst are full of “passionate intensity,” playing out in real time, but it probably has more to do with the fact that Trump’s voters actively chose Trump. 

Biden, on the other hand, was never anything more than a hastily constructed bulwark against the party’s rising progressive wing.  That’s a flimsy premise for a presidency and was never going to hold up for very long to the scrutiny that comes with the job. It’s also a weak hand to play in negotiations with both official Republicans and the unofficial ones within his own party.  

Manchin has so little care about incurring the historically unpopular Biden’s wrath (only Trump was more disliked at this point in presidency) that he literally talked down to his own voters from the stern of his yacht this week as they demanded he support $3.5T in infrastructure spending. And Sinema seems to take a special delight in defying him, as if she’s fantasizing about all the lucrative board memberships she’s going to accumulate when her public service is done and she’s able to cash in her chits.   

If we get an infrastructure bill at all, it’s going to be even more woefully inadequate to meeting the needs of the moment than the one currently under consideration.  

It’s often been observed by his opponents on the left that Biden turned out to be better than anyone expected, but that’s only because the bar for his presidency had been set at a subterranean level. This is the man who gleefully incarcerated a generation of black men, while bragging that his crime bill would “do everything but hang people for jay walking.” Anything short of riding up to the White House on a horse in full Grand Wizard regalia to take the oath of office was going to look like a miracle of late-in-life progressive conversion.

Yes, Biden is better than anyone expected him to be. But he isn’t nearly as good as we needed him to be. We needed the FDR, or failing that, at least the LBJ that Biden reportedly sees himself as. What we got is a walking, talking, daily reminder of just how far we’ve fallen as a country. His befuddlement, frustration and ineffectiveness are our own, as is his nostalgia for a time when we had more turns left in the game, and our possible moves seemed infinite.  

A serious nation that is qualified to lead the world, even in a lets-start-pointless-wars-in-order-to-enrich-our-corporations kind of a way, would never have elected Biden or his predecessor. Our allies and enemies alike have noticed and their way of dealing with the United States is now along the lines of the way one deals with a crazy, rich uncle.  Think about the inheritance. Smile and nod. Remind yourself that he won’t be around for much longer.

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For Anti-Fascists, Liberals Seem Awfully Eager to Throw the Book at Their Opponents

by Keaton Weiss and Russell Dobular

We on the Left had always assumed that the defense of free speech and freedom of expression were core principles of Leftism, and that the impulse to censor and ban was a right-wing phenomenon.  Boy, were we naïve. Turns out that whoever has institutional power will use that power to try to shut down dissenting voices, no matter where those voices may fall on the ideological spectrum.  For most of the post-war period, the center-right had all the power, which created the false impression that censorship is always coming from a Victorian prudishness, or Russophobia.  But in this new bizarro world where a fringe identarian movement has seized control of academia, the media, and for the moment, the government, we’ve made the mind-blowing discovery that it’s possible to be prudish from the Left, and when you give the Left the power to make that prudishness actionable, all that ACLU stuff goes right out the window.  Strangely, the Russophobia part has carried over unchanged.

What’s really disheartening is that if anything, the New Left seems to be even more enthusiastic about shutting down speech and debate than the Old Right was.   

The New York Times recently ran an article decrying the fact that (Heaven’s Forbid!), the new platform Clubhouse is enabling private conversations (remember those?), that can’t be monitored by its crack team of wokescolds, and there’s growing pressure on Substack to kick writers off its completely subscriber-supported platform. Think about the implications of that for a moment: critics of Substack are saying that people who want to pay to read the writing of certain authors and journalists, should not be allowed to do so. This is a level of madness you have to go back to the McCarthy era to find a right-wing equivalent for.  We’ve replaced the core principle, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” with “I may not agree with what you say, and I may start an online Twitter campaign to shut down your right to say it.”

Censorship and cancellation, though, are just the tip of the iceberg. It seems there’s a growing tendency among liberals to not just want to limit their opponents’ freedom of expression, but to strip them of certain rights and freedoms altogether, even going as far as to cheer on what they hope will be extended prison sentences for the accused Capitol rioters and their enablers. Memes like those listed below have been all over #BlueMAGA Twitter in recent months:

Aside from the Capitol rioters themselves, those who “cast doubt on the integrity of the presidential election” are also apparently deserving of years in “maximum security federal prisons,” according to this liberal meme maker:

Not only do liberals gleefully celebrate the prospect of all of these people rotting in prison for decades, they apparently don’t feel any of these criminal defendants ought to have the right to raise funds for their legal defense. In a recent USA Today article, a team of journalists bragged that they convinced crowdfunding platforms to delete the campaigns of accused Capitol rioters who were using their sites to raise money for their attorneys’ fees. Glenn Greenwald, in his excellent Substack post critiquing the piece, writes:

“The primary target of the Trump-era media has become private citizens and people who wield no power, yet who these media outlets believe must have their lives ruined because they have adopted the wrong political ideology. So many corporate journalists now use their huge megaphones to humiliate and wreck the lives of ordinary private citizens who they judge to have bad political opinions (meaning: opinions that deviate from establishment liberalism orthodoxies which these media outlets exist to enforce).”

For a cohort of political thinkers who gasped in horror at then candidate Donald Trump’s suggestion that perhaps he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton should he defeat her in the 2016 election (a threat that, after he won, he never followed through on), liberals seem awfully eager to see the book thrown at the deplorables for their perceived offenses against decency and democracy. They’re equally excited to use the informal relationship between Big Tech oligarchs and the federal government in order to silence these enemies online, and strip them of their ability to finance their legal defenses. That Barack Obama’s unseated nominee for the Supreme Court, current Attorney General Merrick Garland, is the one who gets to lead these unfortunate Trumpsters to the gallows, is just the icing on the cake.

Maybe it’s just us, but these don’t seem like the attitudes of committed “anti-fascist” actors.

We discuss all of this in further detail in episode 110 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

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As Trump Implodes, Democrats Roll Out the Red Carpet for Bush Era Republicans

In the pre-Covid world, Trump was consistently favored across numerous betting markets and forecasting models to win reelection, and the Republicans maintaining control of the Senate was a virtual lock. Alas, however, times have changed. As the coronavirus rages out of control throughout the country, Donald Trump’s poll numbers continue to plummet, and his chances of victory dwindle by the day. Suddenly, it seems the Republican Party is in danger of losing not only the Presidency, but their Senate majority as well, a prospect thought to be unthinkable just a few months ago.

While most Republicans seem willing to go down with the Trump ship, we are also seeing a number of Bush-era neoconservative politicos aggressively attacking the Trump administration in the run-up to November. The most prominent of these groups is The Lincoln Project, a PAC started by Bush and McCain campaign alumni which has run a number of hard-hitting ads against Donald Trump, and is committed to ousting him from office this Fall.

Democrats, desperate to remove Trump, are welcoming this effort with open arms. Liberals’ hearts have always been warmed by the idea of Republicans putting “country before party” and supporting Democratic candidates. MSNBC’s coverage is rife with “Never Trump” conservatives like Joe Scarborough, Nicolle Wallace, and Steve Schmidt (himself a Lincoln Project member) who, on a daily basis, can be seen imploring their party’s representatives to break from Trump in the name of decency, mercy, patriotism, etc.

But is The Lincoln Project actually committed to creating the kind of America that liberals, never mind progressives, ostensibly want to live in? Of course not. These are establishment Republicans looking to curry favor with the Democratic Party leadership, and, just as important, the Democratic electorate, in order to maximize their leverage over a potential Biden administration. By helping the Democrats achieve their paramount short-term goal of defeating Trump, these neocon Republicans are buying themselves influence within the party they’ve spent their lives demonizing, in order to pull it even further to the right.

And so for all this talk of Bernie-Biden “task forces,” and “concessions” to the more progressive wing of the party, there is an ongoing effort to counteract these developments being waged by lifelong Republican operatives, who now see the Democratic Party as a more viable vehicle for their agenda than the ill-fated Trumpian GOP.

What does all of this mean for progressives’ place in the Democratic coalition? Why is Trump failing so miserably? How did the “Never Trumpers” infiltrate the Democratic Party, and why are mainstream liberals rolling out the red carpet for them? We discuss all of this and more on our latest podcast episode.

Have a listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

Subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on  Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, or any major podcast player!

Photo: Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images

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