Sunday, October 06, 2019

Joe, You Gotta Fight Back

I was always a fan of Joe Biden. When he was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Sandra Day O'Connor came up for confirmation, I happened to be living in DeeCee and stood in line for hours to get into that huge hearing room and watch Joe Biden in action. He was engaging, warm, incisive, often funny, self-deprecating, and very entertaining. I liked his easy manner, his intelligence, his good-guy-Joe persona.

He was a good man and still is. You can't say that about his smearing and sneering tormentor in the White House.

I also won't forget the speech Joe made in accepting the DNC's nomination to be Barack Obama's vice president. That was Denver in 2008. When he got to talking about his father and his mother (his mother was there that night), and the lessons he learned from them about forthrightness and honesty, bravery and fair-dealing -- "A man is defined by his sense of honor" -- that was at the heart of who Joe Biden was and is and has always been as an elected official. He's never been known as a mud wrestler, and he eschews negative campaigning as dishonorable. He was taught to be a man in the best American tradition.

Below, Joe's 2008 DNC speech. At 4:55 he begins to talk about his parents and the way he grew up:

The way Twitterman has sought to destroy Joe Biden by smearing his problem-child son Hunter is at least two nasty rungs below despicable. And we can see father Joe flummoxed by the brazenness of the attack and struggling to know exactly how to respond. Hunter has evidently been a troubled human being, and maybe it was politically unwise for him to take a high-dollar international job while his father was VP, but corrupt and dishonest? There's no evidence of that, except the innuendo of Trump and Guiliani, who wouldn't know the truth.

Joe took a long time to respond to the attacks. He finally did this past week, on Thursday, October 3, in a Reno, Nev. speech that got little notice outside the chattering classes. The "I'm Not Going Anywhere" speech addressed directly the character and the sayings of Donald J. Trump, but -- watch it -- the opening delivery is so lacking in energy, conviction, that fighting spirit, it comes across like a dirge, not a counter-attack:

When Biden characterizes Trump like this -- "Like every bully in history, Trump's afraid" -- he's on a tactical threshold, and he needs to step on through. Paint a new portrait of the president as bully who deserves to have his block knocked off. Take the "virtue" the MAGA people worship -- the strength myth of the "You're-Fired" guy from TeeVee -- and reveal it for what it actually is: The cruelty of a self-pitying and insecure little rich brat.

I probably won't vote for Joe in March (but I'll work like hell for him next November, if he's the nominee). But I can't stand to watch him pummeled and deflated, besmirched without cause, dishonored by a dishonorable homunculus who snuck into power and wields it without morals, ethics, or -- yes-- honor. I read this about Joe's team this morning in the NYTimes: "There is no final consensus, in Mr. Biden’s camp, about how consistently he should confront Mr. Trump." I throw up my hands. I may be witnessing the final act of a great public servant as a mere whimper. I hope not. The American tradition of dealing with a bully is to put blood in his mouth.

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