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Read the Fine Print to Know What a Biden Presidency Brings

Commentary

Everybody knows, and some people will even admit, that the next president of the United States will not be Joe Biden.

This is true no matter who wins the election in November.

As of Aug. 2, 2020, my money is on the reelection of Donald Trump. But I understand that that is not a certainty.

For many reasons, some having to do with his astonishingly successful record these past three and a half years (just think of what he has done with his judicial appointments, taxes, the regulatory environment, immigration, the fitness of our military, the economy), some having to do with the behavior of the Democrats, I think that Trump will win reelection.

But a week, as Prime Minister Harold Wilson once observed, is a long time in politics. Many balls are in the air. We do not know where they will land. Where will the stock market be Nov. 3, 2020? What will be the unemployment rate and how will it have been trending? Those are critical numbers, but no one’s crystal ball is sufficiently clairvoyant to give us the answers three months out.

Moreover, given the stunning effervescence of our politics in 2020—given, that is to say, the implacable hatred of Donald Trump by the entitled class combined with the volatility wrought by such (un)natural disasters as the CCP Virus and the scourge of Antifa and Black-Lives-Matter rioting—anything is possible.

All of that is by way of a disclaimer.

Empty Vessel

But why do I say that no matter who wins in November, Joe Biden will not be President?

Perhaps the best way of explaining that is to recall the fate of Achon, son of Amurath, in Evelyn Waugh’s novel “Black Mischief.” The aged Achon, Chief of the Chiefs of Sakuyu, Lord of Wanda and Tyrant of the Seas, was in fact the legitimate Emperor of the fictional kingdom of Azania.

But he had been safely confined to a cave these past fifty years. After various vicissitudes—appalling to contemplate but amusing to read about in a novel—Achon is set free. Alas, his long captivity has left him bent and senile. He dies upon coronation.

Eight months sequestered in your basement is not quite the same thing as fifty years shackled to a rock in a sunless cave, but you take my point. Even if Joe Biden were to win, it will not be he who governs as the next president of the United States.

I would not expect Biden, like Achon, to check out upon swearing in. No, the process would likely be a little more prolonged and circuitous. Victor Davis Hanson outlined some likely scenarios in his sobering essay “Will 2021 Be 1984?”

The narrative that catapulted Biden to his present subterranean eminence centered on his supposed political moderateness compared to some of the more outlandish bijoux on offer, from the Soviet-loving Bernie Sanders to those queens of nastiness, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, all of them economic redistributionists with an imperfect appreciation of the distinction between “meum” and “tuum.

But what has made Joe Biden palatable to the actual power brokers in the Democratic party—far-left, woke commissars who combine a breathtaking arrogance with a deep hatred of America—was not his supposed “moderateness.” On the contrary, it was his empty vesselhood.

Biden, in short, is the toxic suppository, the smooth and unguent capsule, through which the enemies of democratic capitalism and traditional American values hope to insinuate their gospel of radical transformation into the tissues of American society.

His bland non-entity, which given proper lighting can be packaged as “moderateness,” makes him the ideal super-spreader of the virus of collectivist sentiment.

‘Comprehensive Approach’

In order to appreciate what the installation of that radical agenda would mean “on the ground,” I invite you to contemplate the draft Democratic party platform that was leaked a few days ago.

As Joseph Simonson notes in his summary of the eighty-page document, “the party intends to circumvent Congress,” turning instead to unelected bureaucrats of the administrative state to push through its woke, politically correct goals. The fine print is disquieting to say the least.

“Racial equity” is a phrase that is repeated over and over again in this document. But what it means is the opposite of “equity” as traditionally understood, i.e., treating people the same regardless of their race. That, of course, was the ideal enunciated by Martin Luther King Jr. when he adjured us to judge people not by the color of their skin but on the “content of their character.”

The new racism preached by sultans of “social justice” (what, you might wonder, does the adjective “social” add to the substantive “justice”?), that new racism, I say, inverts King’s ideal. Now we are encouraged to judge people solely by the color of their skin. And in case you didn’t know, the code is: Black = good, white = bad. Accordingly, the draft platform insists that “race-neutral policies are not sufficient to rectify race-based disparities.”

Ponder the force of the word “comprehensive” in the explanation of their alternative to “race neutral” policies: “We will take a comprehensive approach to embed racial justice in every element of our governing agenda, including in jobs and job creation, workforce and economic development, small business and entrepreneurship, eliminating poverty and closing the racial wealth gap, promoting asset building and homeownership, education, health care, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, and voting rights. [My emphasis]”

“Comprehensive,” eh? Another writer might have said “totalitarian.”

On every contentious issue—immigration, defense spending, regulation, education, healthcare, taxes, housing policy, student debt—the Democratic platform calls for a huge increase in government intrusiveness and consequent loss of individual freedom.

Naturally, the truly radical nature of this platform is somewhat concealed by bureaucratese and a clever deployment of uplifting abstractions.

As Simonson notes, “Much of the language in the document is a series of bait-and-switches . . . with declarations beginning with promising language, only to be concluded by intersectional jargon and handouts for supposed victims of systemic racism.”

For most Americans, I believe, the draft Democratic platform is a terrifying document. Despite its sometimes anodyne language, it promises to remake America according to a thoroughgoing socialist agenda in which racialism, radical environmentalism, sexual exoticism, and globalist internationalism compete with anti-capitalist animus to destroy the country bequeathed to us by previous generations.

Elie Wiesel was once asked what his experience of the Holocaust taught him. “When people say they want to kill you,” he said, “believe them.” Good advice.

Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia.”

The views expressed herein are solely those of the author. As a nonpartisan public charity, The Epoch Times does not endorse these statements and takes no position on political candidates.

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The one mistake Joe Biden mustn’t make with his VP pick (opinion)

The last time a VP pick was instrumental to a race was 1960, when Texas Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson helped put John F. Kennedy over the top by attracting votes from the South. There have been plenty of strong candidates and incredibly flawed VP picks since then, but none have helped determine the outcome of the presidential race. Put another way, John McCain didn’t lose because he picked Sarah Palin in 2008, but it sure didn’t help.

All of this is not to say the VP pick is not important. The decision — once a means of finding ideological or regional balance — is increasingly a test of the candidate’s judgment and an early indication of the kind of administration he intends to run.

Bill Clinton, for example, was widely expected to choose someone from the more liberal wing of the Democratic party and not another son of the South. But by choosing Al Gore, he made a broader and bolder statement; this campaign was about generational change and a new style of leadership. Both Clinton and Gore were younger men in their mid-40s who brought more physical energy to the race than George H. W. Bush, then in his late 60s. The contrast fueled the narrative that America needed new, younger leadership.

More importantly, Clinton and Gore were comfortable with each other and shared the same basic world view. The same was true for Barack Obama and Biden and, for better or worse, Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

Ultimately, the success of a VP pick comes down to these two factors: whether the two running mates share a genuine and comfortable partnership, and whether the VP reinforces the broad message about how the presidential candidate intends to govern.

So, what is Biden going to do? He has already made the kind of statement Bill Clinton did by picking Gore — making generational change a centerpiece of the campaign. By committing to pick a woman early in the campaign, Biden signaled his intention to break the glass ceiling. Women are the key to Biden’s election success, particularly Black women. This was an important message from the beginning, helping to blunt any unease within the Democratic party that Biden was just another old guy in the party.
Now the only question is: which woman? Judging from his experience with Obama, the former vice president will want to pick someone he’s comfortable with — someone he knows and trusts. Vetting the VP choice is one of the most consequential jobs of a fledgling presidential campaign. If the first rule of VP picks is to do no harm, the second rule is this: absolutely no surprises. Biden will want to avoid any unwelcome revelations such as we’ve seen in the past — like Palin’s much-mocked ignorance about international affairs and Geraldine Ferraro’s husband’s finances becoming a flash point when she announced he would not be releasing his tax returns.
I'm ready to call our sister in the movement for justice Madam Vice President Kamala Harris

Getting the vetting right is an important test of competency. And that’s especially important in this election cycle. Biden is running as the candidate who won’t make the mistakes the Trump administration made from day one. Messing up the VP would seriously undermine the whole competency narrative.

It should be said no contender is perfect or baggage-free. But don’t mistake the public criticisms of various VP choices — from Kamala Harris’ supposed ambition to Rep. Karen Bass’s past comments about Scientology — as immediately disqualifying. More often than not, that information will be floated out by the campaign to judge the public’s reaction before a decision is made. Any new information reported after the pick is announced takes on much more importance and signals the campaign failed in fully vetting the pick.
How the new VP candidate is rolled out is also an important test. Even if you believe my theory that the VP pick only matters for a few days, those few days are very important. Developing a showcase announcement tour that highlights the strengths of the candidate and how they both complement and reinforce each other is both a messaging challenge and a cultural test of how well the running mates and their respective staff members can work together. McCain and his staff had significant problems dealing with Palin and her staff. On the flip side, the bus tour out of the Democratic convention in 1992 cemented the generational change both Clinton and Gore were aiming to convey.

It’s age-old wisdom that the vice president also has to be the attack dog, but that has been less true in recent years and mostly irrelevant this year. The main issue in this campaign is Trump. Biden’s pick will help serve as a contrast to the incumbent and demonstrate the ability for the Biden administration to hit the ground running on day one.

Biden’s vice president will, of course, need to appeal to core Democratic constituencies, minority communities and women. Biden has a wealth of choices on that front and it’s hard to see, as long as the vetting is done properly, how he could go wrong.

McCain shocked the political elite by picking Palin as a way of shaking up the race. Walter Mondale did the same by picking Ferraro in 1984. And Clinton surprised the country by picking another Southerner. For Biden, the task is different. Biden’s challenge is just the opposite. His pick needs to be designed to maintain the structure of the race rather than changing the dynamic. The very last thing he needs now is to spring a surprise on all of us.