Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness
Almost everything Joe Biden has touched since entering office has turned to dross. None of his blame-gaming, none of his distortions, none of his fantasies and unreality can mask that truth.
The Afghan Catastrophe
Seven months ago, Afghanistan was relatively quiet—with about 10,000 vestigial NATO troops, including 2,500 Americans, anchored by the Bagram Airfield. They were able to provide air superiority for the coalition and Afghan national army. With air power, NATO forces, if and when they so wished, could have very slowly and gradually withdrawn all its remnant troops—but only after a prior departure of all American and European civilians, coalition contractors, and allied Afghans.
The transient calm abruptly imploded as soon as Joe Biden recklessly yanked all U.S. troops out in a matter of days. Many left in the dead of night, leaving no one to protect contractors, dependents, diplomats, and Afghan allies. In Biden’s world, civilians protect the last Western enclave while soldiers flee.
Three weeks ago, Joe Biden and a woke and politicized Pentagon were assuring us that Afghanistan was “stable.” Now the country is reverting to its accustomed premodern, theocratic, and medieval chaos. It will likely soon reopen as the world’s pre-9/11-style terrorist haven—an arms mart of over $50 billion in abandoned U.S. military equipment. Thanks to the president of the United States, terrorists and nation-state enemies can now shop for arms and train there without hindrance.
The NATO coalition-builder Biden also dry-gulched his European allies, whose soldiers outnumbered our own. The humanitarian “good ole Joe from Scranton” deprecated the thousands of Afghan military dead who had helped the Americans. The families of the American fallen and wounded of two decades were all but told by Biden that the catastrophe in Kabul was inevitable—no other way out but chaos and dishonor. Why did he not tell us that earlier, when he was vice president, so many dead and wounded ago?
“Get over it,” was Biden’s messaging subtext. If Americans want to hear the blame game, he told us to scapegoat Barack Obama, or all prior presidents, or especially Donald Trump, or the intelligence services and military, or the Afghan army, or we naïfs who somehow think things are a mess right now in Kabul—or anything and everyone but Joe Biden.
Was Biden’s idea simply to get the United States “officially” out of Afghanistan and let the abandoned 10,000-plus Americans manage as they can?
Was Biden angry over our 20-year presence and thinking the Afghans would deserve what followed? Was he so delusional that he really believed the NATO forces could easily deter the Taliban with sanctimonious lectures from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman? The latter is a former head of EMILY’s List and an architect of the Iran Deal, so were she and others especially scarifying to naughty theocrats when they warned they might lose their slot in the “rules-based world order”? Or did Biden believe the Taliban would be deterred by Sherman’s exclamations, such as her ominous warning, “This is personal for me!”
The Inflation Fiasco
In January, Biden inherited a rebounding economy that was fueled by $1 trillion in stimulatory federal red ink. Given natural pent-up consumer demand, why did Biden need to print yet another $1 trillion, seek to green-light another $2 trillion for “infrastructure,” and raise even higher unemployment compensation to the point of discouraging employees from returning to work?
At the same time, he has alarmed employers with braggadocio threats that higher capital gains, income, payroll, and estate taxes are all on the way. More lockdowns only further eroded small businesses. The result was price inflation of all the stuff of life—homes, lumber, gas, food, appliances—as well as historic shortages of everything from cars and houses to the work of contractors and electricians. Any increase in wages due to labor shortages was soon erased by spirals in the consumer price index.
So, what was Biden thinking or, rather, not thinking? By paying workers not to work he would be evening out the ancient score with employers? Did workers need a vacation from the quarantine? Printing money was a way to spread the wealth—and diminish what the rich possessed? Was a $2 trillion deficit and $30 trillion in aggregate debt a way of bragging to Trump that he doubled the Trump red ink in less than a year? Would he pile up more debt than both Barack Obama and George W. Bush in half the time?
The Border Disaster
Biden took a secure border, along with increasingly legal-only immigration, and then destroyed both. He stopped construction of the border wall, encouraged an expected 2 million illegal entries over the current fiscal year, promised amnesties, and resumed “catch and release.” He did all that at a time of a pandemic, exempting illegal aliens from all the requirements of COVID testing and mass vaccinations that he had hectored his own citizens about getting. With planned mass amnesties and millions more invited to cross illegally in the next three years, was Biden seeking to found a new American nation within the now passé old American nation?
Did he believe that Americans did not deserve their citizenship and newcomers from south of the border were somehow more worthy? Did he see the 2 million new residents as instant voters under new relaxed rules of balloting? Did he think in a labor-deprived economy they would supply nannies, gardeners, and cooks to bicoastal elites? We strain to imagine any explanation because there is no logic to any.
Biden did his best in just seven months to explode the idea of American self-sufficiency in natural gas and oil. He canceled the Keystone Pipeline, froze new federal energy leases, put the Anwar oil field off limits, and warned frackers their end days were near.
So, what drove Biden? Did he object that motorists were saving too many billions of dollars per year in decreased commuting costs? Or was the rub that we had slashed too many imports of oil from the volatile Middle East and no longer would launch preemptive wars? Or perhaps the transition to clean natural gas instead of coal as a fuel for power generation had too radically curtailed carbon emissions? Did Biden feel that Middle East producers, the Russians, or the Venezuelans could better protect the planet while extracting oil and gas than could American drillers?
The Race Calamity
Biden blew up race relations by greenlighting the new hunt for the mythical “whiteness” monster. Were a few buffoonish white rioters who stormed the Capitol the tip of the spear of a previously unknown massive white supremacy movement, the most dangerous, he swore, since the Civil War?
Biden took affirmative action and the Civil Rights-era “disparate impact” and “proportional representation” ideas and turned them into disproportionate representation and reparations on the cheap. Biden made it acceptable to damn “whiteness,” as if all 230 million white Americans are guilty of something or other in a way that the other 100 million “nonwhite” are not.
So why did Biden kick the sleeping dog of racial polarization? To stir up his left-wing base? To alleviate his own guilt over the Biden family’s long history of racist insults, from “clean” Barack Obama to “put y’all in chains” to the “Corn Pop” sagas to “you ain’t black” and “junkie” to Hunter’s n-word and Asian racism? Did Biden see countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia as positive models for diversity emulation?
After Biden entered office, violent crimes ignited from the embers of the 120 days of mostly unpunished looting, arson, and organized violence in the streets of America’s major cities during summer 2020. Under Biden, jails were emptied. Federal attorneys and emulative local DAs exempted offenders. Police were defamed and defunded. Punishing crime was considered a racist construct.
The result is that Americans now avoid the Dodge City downtowns of most of America’s crime-ridden blue cities. They accept that any urban pedestrian, any driver after hours, any commuter on a bus or subway can be assaulted, robbed, beaten, raped, or shot—without any assurance that the media will fairly report the crime, or that the criminal justice system will punish the perpetrators. In Biden’s America looters prance into drug stores and walk out with shopping bags of stuff, under the terrified gaze of security guards who guesstimate at least they did not steal more than $950 of loot.
Was Biden’s plan to let the people redistribute ill-gotten gains? Or was he convinced that disproportionate criminal activity was karmic payback, or penance for the death of George Floyd? Did he really believe that we were far too overpoliced? Did he believe that the general public should experience, at last, the crime of the inner-city to ensure equity and inclusion?
So why does Biden so willfully exercise this destructive touch that blows up anything he taps?
There are several possible theories:
1) Biden is non compos mentis. He has no idea of what he is doing. But to the degree he is alert, Biden listens—sort of—only to the last person with whom he talks. And then he takes a nap. When Afghanistan blows up or inflation roars or the border becomes an entry door, his eyes open, and he becomes bewildered and snarly—like an irritable and snappy Bruce Dern waking up in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Biden has no clue about the actual destructive implementation of his toxic policies, and no concern upon whom these destructive agendas fall. He vaguely assumes a lapdog left-wing media will repackage every Biden incoherence as Periclean, and every daily “lid” as Biden’s escape for presidential research, deep reading, and intensive deliberation. Biden appears to be about where Woodrow Wilson was in November 1919.
2) Or is Biden a rank opportunist and thinking he will ride woke leftism as the country’s new trajectory? He resents his prior subservience to Obama, and now feels he can trump past signature leftist administrations as the one true and only socialist evolutionary. He is not so much the manipulated as the manipulator.
Biden fantasizes himself as a hands-on dynamic leader who bites at reporters, snaps from the podium, and issues his customary interjections. He is therefore “in command” for four or five hours a day. He enjoys acting more radical than Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, or “the squad”—and especially being far more leftwing than his old and now passé boss Barack Obama. Joe is in control and that explains the dross touch. For the first time in his life, such an incompetent has complete freedom—to be powerfully incompetent. Biden is then not demented as much as delusionally running things.
3) Biden is unfortunately what he always was: a rather mean-spirited plagiarist, liar, and nihilist, from his Clarence Thomas character assassination infamy and Tara Reade groping to his foul racist talk and his monumental habitual grifting. His disasters are the same old, same old Biden trademark, performance-art screw-ups.
Biden likes the idea of conservative outrage, of chaos, of barking at everyone all the time. Biden accepts that no omelets can be made without broken eggs, and sort of enjoys screwing up things, as Robert Gates and Barack Obama both warned. “Wokening” the Joint Chiefs of Staff, encouraging hundreds of thousands to pour across the border, and abandoning our NATO allies in Afghanistan—who cares when tough guy, brash-talking Joe on the move jumbles stuff up? The disasters in the economy, foreign policy, crime, energy, and racial relations? Biden is just shaking things up, stirring the pot, baiting people to watch Mr. “Come On, Man” in action, as he blusters and preens and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.
4) Biden is nothing much at all. He’s just a cardboard-cut out, a garden-variety Democratic Party hack, who is against anything conservatives are for. He assumes he will undo all that Trump did, on the theory it is simple and easy for him in his lazy, senior moments. And he is tired anyway of thinking much beyond such Pavlovian rejectionism. A closed border is bad; presto, open borders are good. Improving race relations is bad; deteriorating relations must be good. Energy independence bad; dependency good. Biden works on autopilot in his minimalist day job: just cancel anything that Trump did and worry nothing about the effects on the American people.
5) Biden is a hostage of both the Left and Hunter Biden. His task is to ram down a hard Left agenda, in the fashion of a torpedo that itself blows up when it hits the target. The Left ensured the base would not bolt in 2020. So, he owes them. Biden, more or less, signed his presidency over to the squad, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and the Obama holdovers. They hand him a script; he tries to read it; and they follow up with the details. He is the old “Star Trek’s” tottering John Gill.
The Left may hope their own nihilist agenda sort of works. When it inevitably does not, then Joe, the delivery man, is blamed: so much more quickly, then, will be Biden’s necessary exit. They kept their part of the bargain by getting the basement denizen elected. Now he keeps the deal by handing over the presidency. Biden’s utility had about a six-month shelf life.
Now ever so slowly the leaks, the West Wing backstabbing, the furrowed anchor brows, and the unnamed sources will gently ease him out with 25th Amendment worries (e.g., “Perhaps President Biden might find taking the Montreal Cognitive Assessment of some value after all, for his own benefit, of course.”) Kamala Harris is not so inert as we are led to believe.
Hunter Biden, smeared and ruined with scandals of every imaginable sordidness, now embarks on his masterpiece con: peddling his kindergarten art at a half-million dollars per painting to “anonymous” quid pro quo rich foreign grifters. Why does Hunter pose such brazenness and unnecessary danger to his father, the president? Because the former addict can, and just for the f—k of it?
Hunter’s malicious behavior is an implied threat that if Joe’s staff slaps Hunter’s hand, he threatens to spill the “beans” on the “Big Guy” and “Mr. 10 Percent”—given he plays the wounded fawn as the underappreciated bad boy. Hunter was the bad-seed family money man without whose grift none of them would ever have lived in such mordida-generated splendor.
A cognitively challenged Biden then is pulled in every direction, by his own senility, by left-wing politicos collecting their debts, by his own spite, by his trademark narcissism, and by his neanderthal hatred of everything Trump was and did.
The problem for America is that theories one through five are not always mutually exclusive, but more likely force multipliers of the present insanity. At some point, some brave congressional representative or Senator will finally have to say to Biden, in the spirit of Oliver Cromwell and Leo Amery: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”