Out of the 29 candidates who sought the Democratic nomination for president, fate, voters, and Democratic Party power brokers finally worked their magic to push out all candidates except for the oldest white male of the bunch, a man who has spent 50 of his 77 years in politics: Joe Biden.
The quintessential career politician, a man who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 (the sixth-youngest ever) and is now a gray-haired septuagenarian, was crowned as the party’s nominee for president of the United States. As such, he is officially the standard-bearer for its ideals.
But after watching Biden over his career, and more closely this year, I’m left feeling like a panelist on the old “To Tell the Truth” television show. Somebody please say it: “Will the real Joe Biden please stand up?”
Biden has been known for a few things over the years: a moderate-Democrat voting record, an outstanding ability to plagiarize (it takes quite a lot of chutzpah to steal another man’s life story), a penchant for telling entertaining and sometimes untrue stories, and an almost unparalleled tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time (“Chuck, stand up. … Let them see ya!”).
But after comparing his long voting record to the proposals of his presidential campaign, I’m left wondering if this is even the same Joe Biden.
Joe Biden Flip-Flopped on a Host of Policies
For his history of supporting fracking and other balanced energy plans, Greenpeace USA gave Biden a D-minus score last year, near the bottom of the field of competing candidates. He stood a cautious distance from the Green New Deal and had not taken the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.” But suddenly Joe is a climate-change warrior. His website proclaims it. He will eliminate the two-thirds of our electricity that is generated by fossil fuels by 2035 and enact costly carbon taxes to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
He once led in the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the “largest crime bill in the history of the United States.” It provided for 100,000 new police officers and almost $10 billion in funding for prisons. The National Association of Police Organizations supported it. But Biden now supports reallocating resources away from police, which by definition constitutes “defunding,” and the organization has abandoned him.
On trade, then-Sen. Joe Biden supported the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and normalizing trade with China. He’s now suddenly adopted a populist “Made In America” mantra in this campaign season. Appreciative of the change in position, President Donald Trump might offer some bright red hats with “MIA” emblazoned in white letters.
Regarding use of the military to stop drug traffickers at the border, Biden once bragged, “Way back in the 1980s, I was the guy who convinced a lot of my colleagues in the military that the military should get involved in this process, and so in the drug strategy thing.” In July, however, he put forward the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations,” a 110-page document detailing plans to gut immigration enforcement and essentially cede the border to cartels.
Perhaps it is on immigration that his recent inconsistency is most obvious. In 1995, he voted for the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which “put into action now-commonplace fast-track deportations and mandatory detention of immigrants convicted of even minor drug crimes, and it expanded the use of indefinite detention for some noncitizens.” The American Immigration Lawyers Association charged that it let the government “deport the mothers and fathers of innocent kids.”
Biden drove a bill that focused on illegal immigration, eventually becoming the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. By doubling the number of Border Patrol agents, the number of people in detention centers also doubled in just two years afterward. Critics blasted it for injecting the criminal justice system into the immigration system.
Additionally, Biden once supported a proposal to end birthright citizenship. The Obama-Biden record is one of detention centers and rapid deportments. But now Biden says, “There will not be another foot of wall construction in my administration.”
Biden Is Only the Puppet
After rising to the top as a moderate, Biden now promises to be “one of the most progressive presidents in American history.” There will be a doubling of the minimum wage, free college, expansion of Obamacare, a public housing entitlement, and an empowered climate-change agenda, to name just a few items on the list.
Perhaps scarier than the policies is the fact that Biden isn’t driving any of them. In fact, if the flip-flops look suspicious, it’s because they are. They’re an indication that the candidate isn’t setting the agenda for the future Biden administration. Sometimes the cat is let out of the bag on such matters. Vox writer Matthew Yglesias said the following just three months ago regarding Biden’s climate policies:
But this is an area where it’s probably not yet worth spending much time sweating the details of Biden’s existing plan. The Biden/Sanders climate working group on policy, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Secretary of State John Kerry and featuring the Obama administration’s former [Environmental Protection Agency] director and the executive director of the Sunrise Movement, is an extremely high-powered crew. It’s widely believed in the climate policy community that there is going to be a substantial rewrite of Biden’s plan.
Indeed, there will be a substantial rewrite of all the candidate’s ideas. The evidence of other hands at work is everywhere. Take a tour around his campaign website. I’ve had an easier time deciphering the English instructions written by a collaboration of Chinese translators on how to assemble the 100 pieces of my new desk. Perhaps it seems that way because it’s truly analogous to the inner-workings of the Biden campaign.
Joe Biden, the Man, vs. Joe Biden, the Campaign
The truth is that Joe Biden, the candidate, is not the Joe Biden campaign. To even the most casual observer it’s clear that the man is simply the incarnate vehicle for selling and implementing the radical agenda of the left. They will mold him like clay into anything they want. He is their useful idiot.
So if the campaign’s voice appears not to be that of a singular man, that’s because it really isn’t. It is an amalgam of disparate and self-interested political handlers, activists, and contributors all seeking to get their goodies stuffed into the Christmas stocking. Constructed over time by different people with different ideas, it is the ultimate Rube Goldberg machine to nowhere, littered with lots of fancy words such as “environmental justice” and “equitable economic opportunity” that are like salve to leftists’ souls. Few of the campaign’s ideas make sense to the average working American, and there’s absolutely no coherent vision for how they all fit together.
That the campaign’s economic slogan is unknown to most voters is a testament itself to a lack of authentic vision (although given that it was found to have been plagiarized, perhaps Biden was involved). But Biden is their man. With visible symptoms of mental decline, if they have to prop him up until November, figuratively and literally, they will. The desperation is so high that one might wonder whether, if things went really awry, they might dress him in sunglasses and Bermuda shorts and carry him to the finish line.
Biden is indeed the “great white hope” of Democrats. If necessary, he will be corralled into a basement. If his words go off-script, the cameras will stop. If he misspeaks, the press will cooperate. He will go where they say and repeat the words they’ve written for him. Just last week, he was positioned in a chair behind a monitor to offer the VP slot to a senator from California. Leaving nothing to chance, everything was written down, including her name.
For the sake of Joe Biden, the campaign, progressives can’t allow Joe Biden, the man, to fail.