President Trump gets away with a lot because much of the world thinks he’s a buffoon. Former vice president Joe Biden gets away with a lot because much of the world thinks he’s demented. Welcome to American politics in 2020.
Trump may or may not be a buffoon; Biden may or may not be senile — there’s been perhaps too much speculation about his mental health. What is certain is that he gives the strong impression of being a doddery old codger. Perversely, in what Gore Vidal called the United States of Amnesia, that could be the key to his success. You can’t really blame a man who has lost his mind. He can’t be that bad, after all, if he doesn’t know what he is doing.
This makes Biden a Teflon candidate: he escapes censure for political sins that would sink a normal candidate. For instance, in yet another of his disastrous video stunts from his basement in Delaware, he just told a black man that if he supported Trump over him he ‘ain’t black.’ Let’s imagine a Republican had said that, or even Beto O’Rourke. There would be apoplexy across the nation. But with Joe, no — he knows not what he says, poor dear.
Biden in testy exchange: 'If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black'pic.twitter.com/Yz9ULGV3i9
— Emily Larsen (@emilyelarsen) May 22, 2020
Trump famously said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and his supporters would still love him. Well, Biden could march around Manhattan topless shouting about the hair on his legs and people would just chuckle and move on. I exaggerate, but not much.
How else do you explain the fact that nobody, beyond hyper-partisans for Trump who shout ‘Quid Pro Joe!’, cares about the Hunter Biden story? This week we’ve heard leaked tapes that sound a lot like Biden, the then-Vice President of the United States, telling the then-President of Ukraine to fire a prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, who just happened to be overseeing an investigation into his son Hunter, who just happened to be receiving a $50,000 a month to sit on the board of a Ukrainian oil and gas company while Daddy did diplomacy in the country. In the tapes, a voice that sounds like Biden appears to suggest that US aid money would be contingent on Shokin’s dismissal. Democrats have been quick to call the heavily-edited tapes a ‘nothing-burger’. Well, if that is the case, the same party impeached the President for a similarly empty sandwich. We live in such fractious times that one man’s nothing burger is another’s three-course scandal.
It’s interesting that nobody seems to be fazed that Biden father and Biden’s son had such extremely shady dealings with Ukraine — and, of course, there’s that $1.5 billion from China that also connects to Hunter. As Donal Trump Jr likes to point out, if he had such cosy arrangements as the son of the 45th President, the media would go berserk. Instead, what seems to have most interested the Democrat-friendly channels about the Ukraine tapes this week is the role Rudy Giuliani played, in his capacity as Trump’s lawyer, in facilitating their release. That, apparently, is the great crime.
We all know you can’t trust the media. The public aren’t stupid: they can see that Biden has a checkered past. What is strange is that so many people just seem to shrug it off: Biden is registered in the public consciousness as a good guy, thus he can’t be bad. His stammer and his memory lapses make people overlook his wrongdoings.
Then there are the #MeToo matters. The Democratic party presents itself as feminist. So all those pictures of Biden being rather odd, physically, with women could easily have capsized the campaign. But after weeks of fuss, Joe just gave a half-apology, promised to be more aware of personal space, and went back to groping his way toward the White House. Nobody really believes that the 77-year-old is sexual deviant. He’s too old! It’s just Joe being Joe.
Similarly, the Tara Reade allegations, and Biden’s own apparent double standards when accusations of sexual assault are leveled against him, haven’t hurt him. On the contrary, Biden’s popularity seems to have enjoyed a small bump in the polls as a result of him having a #MeToo moment. Most voters don’t think like the New York Times editorial board: they can see that the Reade claims are thin, at best, and they empathize with an old man having to wrestle with such an ancient allegation.
But there are plenty of other wrongdoings in Biden’s past. His history of legislating for the benefit of the credit card lobby, for instance, at the expense of the poor, should be a major outrage on the left, as should his record on criminal justice reform. Biden is a quintessential Washington hack who has betrayed just about every cause he claims to have championed. Yet the voters just seem to shrug over his record. Call it The Biden Amnesia. People are so busy debating whether or not he is mentally fit enough to hold high office. They forget to ask if he morally ok.