No Nose For Running

  • by Jay D. Homnick
  • 03-01-2023

Republicans have occasionally showed skill at governing, but rarely look good at running. One may offer all sorts of theories to explain this conundrum, and many do, but why bother? Politicians never listen to columnists anyway. Only to the con men who fashion themselves as political consultants, conning the losers who fashion themselves as political candidates. It’s a great gig, this “consulting”, because it’s the only arena that two losers can match up in with a fifty percent chance of winning. Also, if you lose they forget your name for awhile, and you can always reinvent yourself on TV as an expert in why the other winners won and the other losers lost.             Columnists on the other hand become much better at predicting races than those consultants will ever be. They start their careers with some intelligence, later augmented by instinct. But consultants never become columnists and columnists never become consultants, and they both pursue their destinies discretely (discreetly too), the consultants unharmed by losing and the columnists unbenefited by getting it right. Eventually both get their fair share of honors, all the equivalent of Hollywood’s lifetime achievement awards, never actually getting appreciated for what they do well or penalized for what they do badly.             All of which brings us to the strange episode of Joseph Robinette Biden, who outlasted the Peter Principle by continuing to rise long after he had reached his level of incompetence. All you have to do is watch a five minute episode on YouTube of the great Thomas Sowell being questioned by Senator Biden in some Senate committee. Anyone can see in those five minutes that Sowell is worlds smarter than Biden, guaranteeing Sowell a small following among the very smart and Biden a large following among the very stupid.             Biden was laughed out of electoral politics at one point, caught in a series of public speeches in 1988 that were cribbed from identical speeches offered by Neal Kinnock and others in Britain, a place Biden thought sufficiently distant to cover his tracks. At that time, every cartoonist in the country came up with the same joke, essentially, drawing their Biden caricatures saying “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country” or “Give me liberty or give me death” or, funniest of all, “I cannot tell a lie.” It is now three and a half decades later and Biden has become ensconced, safely older than the old jokes, in the Oval Office.             This awful story would be mitigated somewhat if at least he managed to defeat opponents calling him out on his lifelong series of horribly bad blunders of judgment. It was he who leaned on President Carter to push the Shah out of Iran, he who advocated for the United States to stop supporting the duly elected black President of Rhodesia, Abel Muzorewa, to hand it over to the bloody maimer and murderer, Robert Mugabe, without an election. Those two instances alone make him responsible for the brutal tortures and deaths of many thousands of Iranians and Zimbabweans, but no one besides God remembers, so he is feted on Earth before being roasted elsewhere.             All the brilliant Republican campaign advisors played right into Biden’s hands by having short memories and no concept of the essence of his record. They ran a campaign against him for being… old! Yes, they forgave him all his sins, all his errors, his bungles, his misthinking and misdoing and mismanaging, and faulting him for the one human and sympathetic thing about him, the fact that as he is getting old he is, in fact, getting old.             Did that strategy work? Not in the least. Have they wisely abandoned it after bungling the election? Not in the least. All day every day you can tune in to a pantheon of conservative political geniuses all along your radio dial to hear that Biden misspoke… he mispronounced… And so, in a grand irony, the man who has himself caused much of the minefield we tiptoe through in international relations is excused as a maudlin muddler, cashing in on the idiocy of his political opponents. And when someone like Geraldo Rivera points out that he does not seem so senile after all, he is attacked by his colleagues for some sort of disloyalty. Yikes!             Biden is bad because he is bad, stupid because he is stupid, and ineffective because he is ineffective. Being old is his one saving grace. Maybe someday the Republican Party will become the smart party again, but that day seems nowhere on the horizon.