“Fair is foul, and foul is fair/Hover through the fog and filthy air,” chanted the Weird Sisters the Bard has open his haunted Scottish play, a sentiment that certainly rings truer than ever when we contemplate Joe Biden’s impending presidential campaign announcement. Is there anyone else who could perhaps more properly mimic the Thane of Glamis within the Democratic Party? There is no doubt in my mind that Biden’s long, exhausting record of awfulness would make him the Macbeth of 2020.
One could easily recite the litany of disasters from Biden’s career, which of course would ultimately plagiarize Andrew Cockburn’s excellent reportage for Harper’s in March.
Ever since the rumor mill began to whirl and buzz with word of Biden’s impending presidential debutante ball (like any spoiled teenager, this will be his third), the news cycle has been loaded to the brim with stories about how this guy is one of the biggest schnooks in the Democratic Party (and we’re talking about the gaggle that included the Kennedys, Clintons, and Joe Lieberman).
He comes from a state whose entire existence seems to be offering major corporations tax dodges and, in service of those constituents, he helped strip-mine the remaining New Deal financial regulatory systems, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the direct catalyst of the 2008 economic meltdown.
On those four parameters alone, you have a candidate that is going to only break even with the incumbent game show host. And frankly, Biden is an awful campaigner, he sees the entire process of getting elected as a chore. Meanwhile, Trump will be out on the trail, rambling about whatever comes to mind in that given second and shooting from the hip with off-the-cuff remarks that Almighty God in Heaven will not see coming, a repeat of his 2015-16 improv tour that seemed to blend a Beat poetry happening with an episode of Wrestle-Mania directed by Andy Warhol. It will be the political equivalent of Robin Williams versus Elmer Fudd at the Laugh Factory.
And that doesn’t even take into account how voters are going to stomach this!
For if there is one thing and one thing only that Biden will be judged upon in the ballot box on Election Day 2020, it will be the eight years of miserable austerity and disappointment he co-administered with President Obama. This man, in the name of “reaching across/around the aisle” to the GOP, praised the effort to cut Social Security and Medicare as a golly-gee swell idea!
One has to wonder just who is selling these hallucinogens to the Democratic Party. Or alternatively, if you are like me, absolutely inoculated against progressive delusions of grandeur, it is perhaps the most logical step for this party to take. The troika of Schumer, Pelosi, and Wall Street run the show and those who aspire for passage of progressive policies can take a hike, even if that means they risk losing a second presidential election to Donald Trump.
My money is on the possibility that Barrack Obama put Biden up to it. Could the former president, in a bout of insane egotistical narcissism, have saddled up to Joe and coaxed him out of his silly semi-retirement? Is this one final legacy shopping jaunt for a president who never could hash together really anything to be proud of? The Affordable Care Act is moribund owing to its own internal contradictions, the Middle East is a bigger mess than when he took office, the TPP and Pivot to Asia have been rent asunder by Trump (one of his good foreign policy moves), women are on the verge of losing the right to abortion care, his lifting of bans on LGBTQQIA+ folk are being swiftly withdrawn, and his pardon of Chelsea Manning has been reversed. Are we going to see Obama riding haphazardly on Rocinante Biden?
If such were the case, he might quote that Scottish play by uttering “They hail’d him father to a line of kings/Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown/And put a barren sceptre in my gripe.”