Above all, former Vice President Joe Biden wants desperately to be liked. However, if he cannot repel a couple of jabs from Sen. Kamala Harris, he will never survive a rampaging onslaught from Trump Kong.
Biden reminds me of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s famous play “Death of a Salesman,” which in Joe’s case could be recast as “Death of a Politician,” with him taking over the lead role.
In the play, an aging has-been salesman who depended on his bonhomie rather than anything substantive to sell his wares looks back on an empty, wasted life — and a dead-end future he cannot bear to face.
We saw some of the same during the recent Democratic presidential debates.
According to New York magazine writer Olivia Nuzzi, Biden’s staff is “freaking out” over his senescent — and desperate — performance, including a promise that the first thing he’d do as president is “defeat Donald Trump.”
But who is Joe Biden? Is there anything behind that famous capped-tooth smile? Or is the smile — like Willy Loman’s manufactured geniality — nothing but a presentation to distract from the opportunistic vapidity behind it?
Back in the 1990s, Biden wasn’t “listening” to the women he now insists must be believed — even in the absence of supporting evidence.
Women such as Anita Hill, who claimed that Clarence Thomas, nominated by George H.W. Bush to replace Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court, had harassed her when she worked with him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
At the time, Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his ears were closed to Hill’s claims — for which he is disliked by many Democrats today.
To get these “Me Too” Democrats to like him now, he publicly apologized to Hill — decades after the fact.
He also stridently demanded another woman be “listened” to — Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Kristine Blasey Ford. Extremely listened to — for as long as she demanded she be listened to.
In order for Biden to re-establish his likability, he is trying to convince people that he can have success on his own, and not just as Barack Obama’s errand boy. Like Willy Loman, Joe is hoping for that big promotion that might never come.
Biden also wants to be well-liked by the abortion-without-restriction cohort that now forms the ideological nucleus of his party and whose support he must obtain in order to secure the nomination.
But there is a problem.
Until just a few weeks ago, Biden was a strong defender of the Hyde Amendment, which denied federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the woman. But this is a position viewed as unacceptable by the people within the Democratic Party who will determine whether Biden becomes the nominee.
In order to recover their support, he’s changed his view. Or rather, he’s changed how he’d legislate — a fluid shifting of priorities that Willy Loman would understand.
It is important to please, above all.
Principles seem to be obstacles for Biden — who all of a sudden wants to appear tough on China — perhaps because the man who is president already has been, and it’s proved to be a popular position. Joe wants some of that action now — but not, apparently, because he honestly thinks it’s important to play hardball with the Chinese.
“They’re not competition for us,” he said just a few weeks ago.
But that was when Donald Trump was risking his popularity for the sake of correcting the horrendous trade imbalance between the United States and China, which exists largely because of extremely outdated “most favored nation” trade policies that date back to the ’90s. Joe supported them at the time and continued to support them — until Trump’s popularity began to wax for advocating they be changed.
Now Willy Biden wants to change them, too.
“We are in competition with China,” he bellows — like Willy urging his favorite son, Biff, to man up. “We need to get tough. They are a serious challenge and in some areas a real threat.”
Except when they weren’t, a month or so ago.
The former advocate of not granting amnesty to anyone who enters the country illegally — and requiring that immigrants learn and demonstrate proficiency with English as a condition of citizenship — now favors open borders and open-ended taxpayer subsidization of whatever “immigrants” demand.
Because the core of the Democratic Party likes this — now.
If it did not, Biden probably wouldn’t, either. He wants to make a sale, after all.
No doubt this also accounts for his “evolving” views on desegregation and busing — which he was vehemently opposed to when his party was the working man’s party rather than the social justice party it has become today.
He is no longer vehemently opposed.
Just as he no longer opposes gay marriage — which he did oppose, not so long ago. Now he says “transgender equality” is “the civil rights issue of our time.”
At least, until next week.
Or until next year.
More than just a pattern can be seen. A tapestry of emptiness forms. A desire to be liked for the sake of being liked, in order to elected. In order to get power.
It’s that quest for power and vanity that may prove to be Willy Biden’s funeral shroud. After all, a small man can be just as exhausted as a great man.
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