Biden as Paradox

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with supporters in Henderson, Nev., February 14, 2020. (Gage Skidmore)His weaknesses are his strength, and he’s not running for the presidency.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE I t is now conventional punditry that should Joe Biden win in November, his vice president, in 1944-style, will sooner rather than later become president.

Biden, to reboot and secure the identity-politics base, thought he had to discriminate by sex and race in advance by selecting his vice president. But given recent poor performances, Biden’s promise to select a woman or minority or both on the ticket is a wink-and-nod admission that she or he will soon be the real president while on the ballot as vice president.

In 2019–20, Biden had moved hard left to get nominated and more or less renounced all his previous old-style liberal voting record, such as tough sentencing of drug dealers, opposition to court-mandated school busing, opposition to illegal immigration, and support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His contrition over his most recent offensive putdown (“If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black”), alongside the nationwide protesting and rioting, will make it even more likely that Biden will select a progressive with the sort of agendas that went nowhere even in liberal Democrat primaries, and will stay nowhere after the rioting.

Yet Biden apparently believes that his dilemmas and personal foibles will soon be turned upside down, and that his weakness somehow will be seen as strength. A limp Biden in seclusion believes he is far more effective than fighting Joe Biden on the stump. And in a strange way, he could be sort of right.

Indeed, the subtext of the Biden candidacy is becoming something along the following Ten Biden Jiujutsu Commandments:

  1. I may show cognitive disabilities during the campaign, but therein I am allowed to dish it out without commensurately being dished. If you think it is cruel and insensitive to caricature or even note my mental confusion as I go on offense, then please keep quiet while I continue my attacks.
  2. Overlook my handsy habits, gaffes, biographical lies, and racialist commentaries because I, at the eleventh hour, am the only vehicle left by which progressive ideas can take over the White House.
  3. Hard-left agendas, which had no resonance with the voters in the past, now resonate with me. I alone can ensure that progressivism will win by appointment what it lost by elections. This weak liberal can do more for the hard left than a raging socialist can.
  4. I can also do what Hillary Clinton, #MeToo, Planned Parenthood, and Hollywood never could: get the first woman into the Oval Office, the holy grail of feminism well worth overlooking a thousand Tara Reids. How ironic that for the Left my wandering hands proved less off-putting than Elizabeth Warren’s whining voice.
  5. I am not a white male septuagenarian who is poorly hiding ossified liberal ideas of the 1970s, but a mere vehicle, an inanimate vessel into which you can put anything you like, from the New Green Deal to reparations. Thus my utter emptiness is far more useful now to progressives than all the Barack Obamas of the world.
  6. Lying dog-faced pony soldiers, you ain’t black, and corn pop will mean nothing a decade from now. You will remember only that ol’ Joe Biden from Scranton in his last hurrah buried the old Democratic Party and rebirthed it as the Progressive project — in the White House.
  7. I, not you, defeated Trump. I alone discovered in my dotage that the way to defeat Trump was to do nothing, to say nothing, to see nothing, to be nothing, to go nowhere. I am as empathetic in my senility as Trump will be grating in his exuberance. I am the first Big Brother candidate, flashed out to everywhere, but nowhere seen in person. So indulge me if I am not raring to break out, but desperate to stay locked in.
  8. I will end all consequences for planning the Obama-administration coup to abort the Trump tenure. I was there at its founding and knew how it started and where it was going. But I am also now running for president — and the media, the deep state, and even my prosecutors would not dare to do to me, the future president-for-a-bit Biden, what they tried to do to Trump. My role in the failed coup is my strength: The matter will be dropped because I cannot be dropped — at least until I am elected.
  9. When others who are guilty of trying to remove the president swear under oath “I can’t remember,” “Not to my recollection,” or “I just don’t know” when confronted with clear evidence of their own wrongdoing, they are condemned as mendacious. But I can say all that and more about my own past role in the collusion hoax and also in Burisma — and I can do it with the conviction that my absence of memory is all too real and daily demonstrable. Near-senility is my strength. Again, ask what happened to Tara Reid — whom I can’t quite remember.
  10. You judge me as cognitively challenged and see in me the haggard visage of one increasingly trapped in his own world of incognizance. But you do that only because you worry that I must last as president until 2025. But I do not and never indulged any such fantasy. I need endure only to November 8, 2020. I am not running to be president, but to hand off the presidency to your vice president. Indeed, the quicker I depart after the November 8, the more I will be publicly esteemed — and the more I will be privately relieved. You may be embarrassed by my presence for the next five months, but you shall not be by my absence for the next four years. Perhaps tolerance for me cannot last for a year; but empathy for me certainly can at least last half a year until November.

America has never seen a candidate like Joe Biden before, because he has never really been a candidate at all.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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