This article is not about former senator, former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden. Well, it isn’t all about Joe Biden, to be clear, so let’s get the Joe part out of the way first. See, Biden has a Republican problem that is actually part of a larger national problem, so we need to go to Joe from the jump because he frames the dilemma with nice 90-degree angles.
The mainstream press enjoys calling Biden a “dealmaker” because of his close relationship with many Republican lawmakers. It’s one of those shortcuts to thinking (right up there with “Dems in disarray” and “GOP stronger on defense”) these media outlets deploy in lieu of actual work. Biden himself carries the “dealmaker” banner with pride – Look how bipartisan I am! Vote for me, Iowa! – because once upon a time, attempting to reach across the aisle occasionally had the potential to be a worthy endeavor. Nowadays, however, it’s a good way to lose an arm, not to mention the country.
Today, Joe Biden typifies the powerful but dwindling segment of elected Democrats who still have not read the updated memo, “The Republicans Are Not Your Friends,” in full. These people preach the failed gospel of bipartisanship and cooperation even as their would-be “partners” set fire to the house and loot the barn.
The fable of the scorpion and the frog is highly instructive in this matter: A scorpion hitches a ride across a stream on the back of a frog. Midway across, the scorpion stings the frog. As they sink, the frog asks why the scorpion did something that would kill them both. “It’s my nature,” replies the scorpion.
Biden’s professed respect for war criminal Dick Cheney four years ago was only the tip of the iceberg. His (third) presidential campaign was leaning on his bonny relationship with Republicans before it officially started. “I read in The New York Times today that one of my problems if I were to run for president, I like Republicans. OK, well, bless me father for I have sinned,” he said at the Conference of Mayors back in January while ironically making the sign of the cross.
There are a whole bunch of Democrats in Michigan who don’t appreciate the joke. On the eve of the historic 2018 midterm elections, Biden went to Benton Harbor and sang the praises of Republican incumbent Rep. Fred Upton, who was in a nip-and-tuck race with Democratic challenger Matt Longjohn. With three weeks still to go before the vote, the quest to regain control of the House of Representatives from the GOP hinged on every close race.
“Mr. Biden stunned Democrats and elated Republicans by praising Mr. Upton while the lawmaker looked on from the audience,” reported The New York Times. “The local Democratic Party pleaded with Mr. Biden to repair what it saw as a damaging error, to no avail. On Nov. 6, Mr. Upton defeated his Democratic challenger by four and a half percentage points.”
Biden, it should be noted, was paid $200,000 for his appearance at the event, neither the first nor the last time he has enjoyed the comforts of Republican money. Last I heard, Michigan is pretty important to any candidate who hopes to become president. To quote the Starks of Winterfell: The North remembers, Mr. Biden.
Biden ran his Republican Party problem across the sky in lights this weekend in Iowa. Speaking to a crowd in Dubuque about the need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, he said, “History will treat this administration’s time as an aberration. This is not the Republican Party.” It is a campaign theme he introduced in his announcement video: “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time.”
“This is not the Republican Party,” said Biden, attempting to lay blame for our entire national disaster on one horrible guy who only got into politics to push his brand. This has to be true, because of course no friends of Joe would ever be willing brigands and active racists on their own, right? Perish the thought that Biden may have even had a hand in such malicious activities, right? Everything is Trump’s fault in Joeworld. In order to cling to his “dealmaker” image, it can be no other way.
History would like a word with the candidate from Delaware.
Did Donald Trump transform the Republican Party into the mouthpiece for white nationalism and nativism? No, that happened in Technicolor after the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Did Donald Trump transform the rich-enriching nonsense of trickle-down/deregulation economics into Republican gospel? No, that was Ronald Reagan and the Republicans, with the help of a whole slew of Democrats like Biden.
Did Donald Trump lie the country into a catastrophic war in Iraq? No, that was George W. Bush, the “respected” Dick Cheney and the Republicans, with the help of Democrats like Biden.
Did Donald Trump investigate “But Her Emails/Benghazi” until our collective ears bled, to the detriment of myriad other investigations and crises? No, that was congressional Republicans.
Did Donald Trump block Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland from even getting the consideration of a hearing? No, that was Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Did Donald Trump sit down with GOP leadership in January of 2009 and plan out all the ways they would work to keep a duly elected Democratic president from being able to govern? No, that was Mitch, again.
Did Donald Trump whip the votes to pass the monstrous late-2017 tax giveaway to rich people? No, that was Mitch, again.
History could go on and on with this, but I think the gist has been got.
I do not dispute the putrid nature of the Trump White House or dismiss the long list of crimes and moral offenses the administration has committed in broad daylight and on live television. This, too, is black-letter history.
Yet to lay everything that has gone wrong at Trump’s feet alone is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the opponent arrayed before you. Trump did not create the Republican Party. The Republican Party created Trump. Once he got loose, they empowered and protected him, and continue to do so to this day.
Go ahead and thwart Frankenstein’s monster in 2020. Dr. Frankenstein will still be in the laboratory working feverishly away on some new abomination. Policies like caging migrant children, streamlining the pipeline/pollution process and thwarting the voting rights of people of color were cooked up in that lab long before Trump came along. He simply stamped his name on it all for a fee, just as he has done his whole life with bad steaks and shabby vodka.
Joe Biden and Democrats of his deeply misguided stripe steadfastly refuse to acknowledge who and what they are up against. There’s an argument that Biden’s “dealmaker” worldview came to be almost 50 years ago, before the GOP lemminged its way off the evangelical supply-sider cliff, but with fiends like Richard Nixon and Strom Thurmond in the mix, even making that case is a hard hustle. Regardless, that quasi-mythical “then” ain’t now, and hasn’t been now for a long and terrible while.
This chummy mindset has to stop if anything is ever going to change. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something,” said Upton Sinclair, “when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Recalling Biden’s six-figure fee for pumping the tires of a Republican incumbent in Michigan last year, I am not hopeful he and his friends will see the forest before the clear-cut trees fall right on their heads, again.