As happens every four years, a presidential election has taken place. The victors of these contests have been varied in talent and temperament. Some have been truly heroic, and politically unambitious, accepting, rather than angling, for office. The first exemplar of these usually contradictory qualities was George Washington. Another was… well, you see the problem. In Thomas Jefferson—inventor, musician, architect, writer—we had our “Renaissance man.” Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt matched physical courage with heroic appetites for power. James Garfield and Calvin Coolidge bore, rather than basked in, the pomp of office; both were unpretentious and capable administrators, although Garfield’s promise was cut short by an assassin’s bullet. Kennedy was fabled for charm and wit, and a libertine’s approach to sexual discipline—like Bill Clinton, if we substitute savvy for wit. Both men were quick studies with retentive minds, Kennedy absorbing a newspaper or a Mailer essay with his morning coffee, and Clinton being a scholar of the Rhodes variety.
Aside from fervor for power, our new vice-president and president-assumptive fall outside of the usual historical groupings. In some ways, they stand alone.
Ours is an age that ignores or hates the past, that pants for breakthroughs, firsts, the shattering of glass ceilings. While neither Biden nor his running mate stand out for selflessness or heroism or wit, they do satisfy the American appetite for firsts. Biden will be the oldest president to take the oath of office and the only commander-in-chief visibly impeded by early-stage dementia. He will also be the first “Catholic” president to celebrate abortion, and the only one to have officiated at a same-sex wedding. Being female and black, Harris will shatter two glass ceilings.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Another first: never in our history has the electorate chosen—or had foisted upon them—an executive team so scant of intellect, character, charisma, or political philosophy.
The future court anthologizer of the wit and wisdom of Joe Biden will want to draw exclusively from his prepared speeches. There he does have a few vivid phrases to his credit—all of them, alas, plagiarized. When Joe is being Joe, off the cuff, he tends to maunder and make goofy boasts. He gave that Ukrainian prosecutor, poking into his son’s affairs, just six hours to clean out his desk; back in high school, he dusted off guys like Trump behind the gym; he did a stint in a South African jail, manning up for Nelson Mandela; then there are his vivid memories of marching with civil rights legends, and of participating in lunch counter sit-ins. Like most self-publicists, Biden refuses to let prosey fact trip up the flow of a good yarn. Of late, his “gaffs” and slips have been of the Freudian stripe, as when he refers to the “Harris-Biden” team, or boasts of the “most extensive voter fraud organization in the world.” The wandering mind, like the wine-flooded brain, sometimes blurts the truth. In dementia veritas.
Highlighting signs of dotage is not a pretty thing. But when a public figure’s debility is not just a personal misfortune, but a threat to one’s family, one’s country, and the common good, public exposure may be a duty rather than a breach of charity. The media performed no public service in veiling the emperor’s nakedness. Rather, as the CCC states, it is “a grave fault” to “encourage another in malicious acts and perverse conduct” through “flattery, adulation, or complaisance” (CCC 2480).
But why linger over the “content” of Biden’s character? The power brokers in the Democrat party know that he is a placeholder. Queen-maker Obama finally accepted Biden because of his feebleness. What was wanted, to fulfill the Obama legacy, was progressive vision—the vision of Kamala. Kindred spirits and all that. Or, as a poet friend of mine said, “spider sees eye to eye with spider.”
The concealment strategy—along with mail-in votes, “glitch” prone machines, magic suitcases, speedy interstate ballot-delivery, etc.– worked to install, if not elect, Biden. But success presents a new exigency. It won’t suffice now to trot him out only for brief and tele-prompted outings. Press briefings won’t be as bloody-minded or as frequent as in the Trump administration, but they can’t be entirely stage managed. Even among pre-selected reporters, a “rogue” will occasionally shout out a rude question: “Mr. President, are you the ‘Big Guy’?” “Did you lift the China tariffs because of Hunter’s deals?” “Which method of abortion, Mr. President, do you consider more humane, vacuuming or dismemberment?” Will he mutter and curse, or fall back on facetiousness? In any case, his recent announcement of “Bacaria” as his pick for “Health and Education” can’t be reassuring to his handlers. Sooner, rather than later, he will do what he was anointed to do—cede power to his ruthless, but far from feeble, running mate.
Without other exposure to Senator Harris, most viewers, after her performances with Tulsi Gabbard in the primaries, and with Mike Pence during the vice-presidential debate, didn’t see a rising star, but a stumbling candidate.
In both encounters Harris came across as unappealing, snide, artificial, and incompetent. The California senator seemed guided by a left-leaning tropism rather than any articulate philosophy of government. In an earlier performance, she had been able to flummox Biden with her downcast eyes and tremulous cadence: “I was that little girl” on the bus. The implication of racism behind Biden’s opposition to busing left him speechless. In her contretemps with the remarkably self-possessed Tulsi Gabbard, such a tactic would not have served. Playing the ingenue with eyedrop tears and makeup blushes falls flat with another woman. When Gabbard calmly reviewed Kamala’s record as California’s attorney general—locking up marijuana law violators, yet laughing about her own inhalations, and blocking evidence that would have exonerated a death row inmate— it was Kamala’s turn to stare aghast.
Her debate with Mike Pence only cemented the earlier unfavorable impression. While the vice-president was calm and gentlemanly, the senator was haughty and condescending. She answered his critique with sidelong glances and smirks. “I will not sit here and be lectured by the Vice-President….” Of course, he was reviewing her dubious actions in office, not lecturing. But lacking a rebuttal, she glowered. Such-as-Pence deserved no answer.
Clearly, such an off-putting V.P. choice—rejected even by her home state in the primary— would not give Biden the “bounce” that the much-maligned Palin brought to John McCain. So how did the 2020 Democratic ticket manage its historic win? Could Biden’s magnetism account for it?
Or was the election stolen, despite “no wide-spread evidence of fraud”? To think that dirty tricks undid the will of the people is indeed an appalling thought. But more ominous yet is the possibility that the election truly reflected the will of the people.
Philosophers, from the ancients to Oswald Spengler, have warned that it is in the nature of all democracies to self-destruct. If America really elected Biden/Harris, we may have reached that borne from which there is no turning back. Spengler warned that “democracy becomes its own destroyer after money has destroyed intellect.” Money, of course, was not the only contaminate in the election, but cash flowed like water from a poisoned spring. Since I started this article by citing historic “firsts,” and superlatives, here is one more for the collection: 2020 was the most costly election in American history, and Biden was by far the champion fund raiser. Harris was no slouch. The same bi-coastal big-money bundlers that supported Hillary were equally free-handed with candidate Harris.
What do they expect in return? What can we expect from a Harris administration?
Internationally, President Harris will undo Trump’s “America First” foreign policy. Our Trump-loathing alienated “allies” will know that “America Is Back,” checkbook in hand. International entities like the WHO, the UN, and the EU will be assured that we no longer deny science. We’ll be back in the Paris Climate Accords, ready to meet existential threats to the planet. We’ll finance abortion abroad in order to reduce the number of pollution-causing units. John Kerry will spend a lot of time on private jets. Russia will once again be the main threat to our democracy, and China will be a competitor, not an enemy. Our first “Second Gentleman,” Douglas Emhoff, will help President Harris renew cordiality with the People’s Republic. Emhoff’s law firm has long experience in China and 140 lawyers devoted to the firm’s “China Investment Services.”
For a glimpse into how Harris’s domestic policy will impact Christians, google “Kamala Harris and David Daleiden.” Or consult Planned Parenthood’s “9 Reasons to Love Kamala Harris.” Once you translate into plain English the abortion giant’s smarmy euphemisms, you will have nine reasons to resist President Harris— and to pray, de profundis, that President Trump stops the steal.