“To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency,” Maximilien Robespierre wrote in his post-French Revolution impassioned defense of state tyranny against the ruling class. “To forgive them is cruelty.” Robespierre, was, of course, the architect of the great terror, where thousands of innocents were sacrificed in the zeal of purifying fire, as every revolution undergoes.
While observing that revolutionary social restructuring, Edmund Burke compared the virtues of a fixed rule of law in relatively peaceful England: “To give freedom is still more easy. It is not necessary to guide; it only requires to let go the rein. But to form a free government; that is, to temper together these opposite elements of liberty and restraint in one work, requires much thought, deep reflection, a sagacious, powerful, and combining mind.”
In what became the most recurring twist of irony thereinafter, Robespierre was himself guillotined. Talking of revolutions devouring their own children brings us to Joe Biden, who is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary without having announced that he is running. He is also perhaps the first candidate whose candidacy is already toast, even before he starts the sprint.
He seems to be aware of the great danger to his possible campaign, as he’s released a response to the mounting allegations of sexual impropriety and weirdness against him:
Biden is in trouble… two more women just came out to the New York Times about how he made them feel uncomfortable with his physical contact/words.
One of them is a survivor of sexual assault.https://t.co/qbbkxdnmrn
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) April 3, 2019
Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it. pic.twitter.com/Ya2mf5ODts
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 3, 2019
As Emily Jashinsky pointed out, “Biden’s personal character is perfectly fair game for debate, but this alone isn’t enough to undercut his fitness for office.” True. Ideally, a candidate’s personal life shouldn’t be more than a consideration, as long as his policies are formidable or even workable.
Cardinal Richelieu said, “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” The fact is, no one is a saint, and we shouldn’t expect our politicians to be, either.
Biden’s sanctimony and corruption, for example, are a far greater threat to the republic than his perplexing olfactory manners around nubile women. But, sadly, that is beside the point. This is a Democratic civil war, come sooner than some expected. And boy, did it arrive in style.
A former Biden backer, Lucy Flores, claimed that years back, when Biden was vice president, he stood behind her and “inhaled” her hair (whatever that means) then “proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head.” The timing of the revelation screams oppo hit, but that is, again, beside the point.
Soon, a second woman, named Amy Lappos, accused Biden of unwanted touching and “rubbing noses,” Polynesian-style. Obviously, the standard question of “why now” arises. Flores, for example, is a professional feminist, according to CNN, and has “challenged power structures” before. The left media seems to be piling up against Biden, with Vox and “The Daily Show” hitting at his Creepy Joe problem.
Biden could have blown it off all at once by not bowing down to the powerful feminist lobby within the Democratic Party. Recent polls suggest American males are flocking en masse to the candidates who are outrightly and often roguishly masculine.
President Trump, for example, commands overwhelming support among working-class men, often without college degrees, who feel that society is changing around them and becoming more feminized, but lack people to stand up on their behalf. Me Too seriously dented confidence in Wall Street, media, and academia, where the Pence Rule (of not being alone after hours with a woman) is increasingly gaining momentum.
One can be for or against these developments philosophically, but it is undeniable that upper-middle-class feminism is restructuring society, and a backlash is brewing. Biden, therefore could have simply brushed aside all his, er, dalliances, and asked reporters why they did not raise these issues when he was VP for eight years. It would blow open the Democratic primary.
But he cannot. First of all, he is a very strange man with numerously documented evidence of weird and baffling behaviour. While it may be debatable whether he intentionally made women uncomfortable or was, for lack of better word, just a bit handsy and awkward, even old-fashioned, he is now being judged by the standards he worked tirelessly to create.
Of course, the benefits of doubt and due process should apply to him as well. But no one worked more to erode due process with regards to sexual misbehavior than Biden himself. During the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearing, saint Biden opined that women’s claims of sexual assault should be presumed to be true, prima facie—no question, no reason, no arguments.
Biden was the one tasked with selling Obama-era campus sexual assault measures, and once said that sexual activity requires affirmative consent at all times. Biden was the one to promote preferences for accusers over equal rights for the accused, thereby radically attempting to restructure hundreds of years of Anglo-American jurisprudence, which hinges on the fundamental principle of innocent until proven guilty. He called Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her supporters “culturally Neanderthal” for championing due process for the accused on campus.
Neanderthal, eh? How’s “Believe Women” working out?
It seemed odd that the MeToo madness took hold in the left, which is traditionally more invested in libertinism. Who were they thinking would be the bulwark (sorry) of moral uprightness, Hollywood? Even Mos Eisley is cleaner.
Radicalism can vary in nature, but the one thing that remains constant throughout history is that radicals often die in the fire they start. Robespierre was executed. Leon Trotsky felt the cold steel of an ice pick in his head. Lin Biao was murdered. The entire first Politburo of the Soviet Union, including Grigori Sokolnikov, Andrei Bubnov, Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev, were all executed by Joseph Stalin.
The reason is something far older and perverse than ideology: it is human nature. Power, as Lord Acton’s profound and timeless understanding communicates, tends to corrupt. And no one chases power more ruthlessly than leftist ideologues.
For all his revolutionary zeal, Biden is now simply an old Plymouth 1971, and new models are already available for their moment in the sun. Biden should have known his time of reckoning would come, and it won’t be from the right, but his own side willing to go all Brutus on him. Al Franken should have been a warning sign for Uncle Joe.
In a certain sense it is unfortunate what is happening to him, and in an ideal world, he would be judged fair and square, and not on hearsay accusations from years ago by political opponents with a clear inclination towards rival candidates. But it is not an ideal world, and right did not set these standards, and hypocrisy can only be tolerated for so long.
Joe Biden was instrumental as a cynical arbiter of social morality. What he did not realize, due to his revolutionary zeal-induced myopia, that the shoe would inevitably be on the other foot. He made this bed for himself to lie upon. It’s tragically ironic, like a play written by Sophocles, but such is life.