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In his sonnet “Ozymandias,” poet Percy Bysshe Shelley tells of a traveler who comes upon a desert ruin that was once an ancient empire. All that is left of it are “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” and a sneering imperial stone “visage” half-buried in the sand. Etched on a pedestal are the words: “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.”
Joe Biden is a latter-day Ozymandias, with a tremendous thirst for power and a misplaced sense of invulnerability. But unlike the ancient royal ruler, it will not take eons for Biden’s power to erode. Even as his smirk remains, he is diminishing before our very eyes.
Put bluntly, Biden is not as advertised. He was supposed to bring a divided nation together. He promised to govern not with an iron fist, but with a velvet glove. Now that hand has trouble finding his mask. Joe represented himself as a serious candidate, well versed in affairs of state. Instead, we are saddled with a cipher in the White House, a compromised head of state who takes in teleprompter content through his beady eyes and drones it out through his thin lips.
In many U.S. states, there are “lemon laws” that provide a remedy for purchases of cars and other consumer goods to compensate for products that fail to meet standards of quality and performance. If the home you buy comes with unhappy surprises, there are legal remedies. The Federal Trade Commission enforces truth in adverting laws. Nothing like this applies to politicians who disappoint.
After Trump’s victory over Hillary in 2016, one of my college classmates wrote to her like-minded liberal friends, “How can we have let this happen?” I suspect that a similar query is being voiced by deluded Biden-supporters whose judgment at the ballot box was blinded by their irrational hatred for the Orange Tweeter.
Despite the sizable lineup of candidates in their primaries, Democrats eventually opted for old Uncle Joe Biden. If he didn’t seem all that good in the debates, at least he looked promising on paper. His résumé was long, if not impressive. He was Barack’s buddy, supposedly tapped for his wide experience with international issues. He had name recognition. And surely, one can’t spend almost a half-century in the swamp and not learn the dangers of bucking the tide.
Over his long political career that began in 1973, Biden faced few challenges — and fewer challengers. He was re-elected to the Senate six times. He glad-handed folks, securing their loyalty through longevity and privilege. He became a familiar face in Washington, not because he did so much, but because he did so little for so long. As a result, he became impervious to criticism. He found it easy enough to weasel out of unpopular actions, such as the 1994 legislation he authored and pushed, intending to reduce crime but resulting, instead, in massive incarceration, particularly of blacks.
Biden kept a rather low profile during his years as “second in command” in the Obama administration. That’s how “Barack” liked it: an older “yes man” rather than a vital competitor to the charismatic president. Biden knew how to bulldoze his way through the Washingtonian corridors of power. And more importantly, he knew where the bodies were buried.
Joe made three runs for the presidency. The third time was the charm — but not for America. He might have been the “real deal” in Dover, but he didn’t particularly resonate with voters beyond his home turf. In the first campaign, he was forced to drop out after being caught plagiarizing. On his second try, he garnered about 3% of the primary vote. It was only when the veneer of Obama’s popularity rubbed off on him that Biden was more or less taken seriously by the country at large.
Obama once remarked that Old Joe didn’t have a mean bone in his body. What he neglected to point out, however, is that Biden’s backbone has gone missing. The perennial bureaucrat went giddily with the flow, as long as its course led to personal enrichment for himself and his family. In his years in Washington, Joe became very wealthy, and so did his siblings and younger son, Hunter.
Biden turned the tiny Diamond State of Delaware into an attractive tax haven for corporations, and they loved him for it. Once entrenched in office, Joe breezed through his re-election campaigns. Voters felt understandably sorry for the horrific loss of his first wife and daughter. And he made political hay over the fact that he Amtrak-ed back and forth between home and capital, fulfilling his dual obligations to his sons and constituents. It is ironic that a man who personally suffered such loss seems humdrum about his role in causing the collective grief of so many other families in Afghanistan.
Biden may seem grandfatherly and low-key, but he exhibits a scathingly short temper toward those whose opinions differ from his own, such as Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork, distinguished candidates for the Supreme Court. He humiliated Thomas, a black jurist who had pulled himself up by the bootstraps from an impoverished Southern family.
As for Bork, Joe ironically opposed him because he feared that the conservative judge was racist — a concern in sharp contrast to his longtime friendship with powerful West Virginia senator Robert Byrd, a onetime muckety-muck in the Ku Klux Klan. From then on, all conservative high court applicants have been “Borked.”
Fortunately for Biden, his contradictions, outbursts, flubs, and gaffes were rarely taken any more seriously than he was. Even some of my Republican friends excused his missteps as just “Joe being Joe.” Would the NeverTrumps tolerate forgiveness because Trump was just being Trump?
Now that Joe is president, the chickens of his sketchy political past are coming home to roost. Accustomed to coasting through his career without much criticism, Biden seems now to have landed in a place that befuddles him. His speechwriters may insert Harry Truman’s famous phrase, “the buck stops here,” but don’t expect Joe to put that plaque on his desk in the Oval Office anytime soon.
Still, Biden is fond of boasting, “I am the president of the United States,” and “This is America, for God’s sake,” as though presumably anything is possible with him at the helm. His current shortfall is exacerbated by creeping dementia. He finds it hard to play the role because somewhere along the line, he lost the script. He was never one to lead the pack, and at this point, he seems unable to do so. The effects of his impairment may vary from day to day, but the condition never goes away. It only gets worse with time.
Unfortunately, Biden’s confusion and inability to deal with problems spell big trouble for our country. Over his years in office, he had come to expect immunity for his misbehavior, as was the case with his quid quo threat against the Ukrainian government. He has grown accustomed to weaseling out of sticky situations — such as inappropriately fondling women and young girls. And an accommodating press has been covering up his son Hunter’s various scandals.
In fact, until now, Biden has not been taken to task by most of the mainstream media. Not for side-stepping the border crisis. Not for putting mandated masks above mayhem here and abroad. Not for his craven capitulation to the far left of his party, even concurring that the United States is “systemically racist.” He has even been given leeway to point his bony finger of blame at everyone but himself.
This pattern of scapegoating others for his own shortcomings has badly damaged Biden. More importantly, it will likely damage America for years to come. Recently, his growing petulance and irrational rants were on full display during a televised ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos.
Clearly, Biden has no business being president of the United States. During his unimpressive campaign, he failed to inform Americans about his mental decline. If he did not know about it, surely his doctor and family did. Failure to fully disclose his condition should be grounds for his resignation or impeachment.
During the Vietnam war era, opponents gathered outside the White House, chanting, “Hey, hey, LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?” Maybe it is time to descend on the White House, shouting, “Joe, Joe, you gotta go!” (That is, if he hasn’t already gone…off to Camp David or his home in Wilmington, Del.)
There is a lesson to be learned from Shelley’s poem. If Biden and his buddies continue in power, our country could — with unimaginable speed — become a shadow of its former self. We must not underestimate such an eventuality the way Biden did with the swift advance of the Taliban. Without a course correction, America could hopelessly find itself sinking into the sands of oblivion.