Joe Biden’s presidency is sputtering. His approval ratings are as low as Trump’s were during his term. Biden has multiple problems: His agenda dealing with the nation’s infrastructure, climate change and protecting voting rights has been stuck between warring factions in the Democratic Party; his withdrawal from Afghanistan was a strategic mess; his submarine agreement with Australia, leaving a trusted ally like France out of the loop, was a major diplomatic blunder.
But not all his wounds have been self-inflicted.
His attempts to halt the spread of COVID-19, for example, have been hampered by rabid anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers, legions of mostly Trump supporters who have made a political issue out of a public health crisis.
His attempts to work across the aisle with Republicans in the House and Senate have been hogtied by Republican congressional leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy and their obedient followers.
They are even stonewalling an investigation into Trump’s coup attempt. Strangely, some have cravenly refused to admit that a treasonous insurrection even took place. Is it possible that the shattering glass, the pounding on office doors, the shouts to kill Nancy Pelosi and “Hang Mike Pence!” didn’t grab their attention while they were hiding and shaking under their desks?
The Washington Post recently reported that members of Congress and the White House were involved in the planning of the insurrection. Others, like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, openly lent support to the insurrectionists when they tried to overturn the election. So clearly the Republican House and Senate are going to do everything they can to impede the House investigation into the terrorist attack on the Capitol to keep their complicity from becoming an issue in the 2022 elections.
In the interim, they will keep throwing cultural stink bombs, feigning outrage about “woke culture,” “cancel culture,” “critical race theory” — anything to distract from the serious problems that are affecting and damaging our country: the climate crisis, deteriorating infrastructure, domestic terrorism, economic wealth disparity, the continuing pandemic, the immigration dilemma, incipient racism, the attacks on voters’ rights.
Yes, “wokeness” is an annoying, pedantic phenomenon, but a major electoral issue? Of course not.
“Cancel culture” is also a minor, if not a bogus national issue — except when the defeated president tried to cancel the votes of 80 million Americans in an election that he demonstrably lost by a large margin.
And for people who besiege our local school boards and school boards around the country demanding that critical race theory stop being taught in school: It is not being taught in K-12 in classes anywhere in the country.
These false arguments — these stink bombs, these red herrings, whatever you want to call them — are designed to inflame passions and distract citizens from concentrating on the real issues, the issues 65 percent or more of Americans support. The problem is not with the agenda, it is with the unwillingness of the Republicans to participate in the governing process. You know, their job.
Instead, they will delay and obstruct until they get back in power. Then they can return to what they did under the former guy: favor polluting industries, expand more tax cuts for the wealthy 1 percent, despoil our oceans and national parks, throw desperate immigrants into cages, corrupt the courts, tamper with elections, attempt to cancel a free press, fire cabinet members, lawyers and associates who do not basely genuflect and flatter.
So, yes, Joe Biden is sputtering and has made mistakes. He is clearly not a charismatic leader. He may ultimately succeed, as he has recently with passage of an infrastructure bill and promising employment numbers. On the other hand, he may not.
But here is what he will not do:
- He will not corrupt our judicial system. He will not make the attorney general his toady and henchman.
- He will not require constant flattery from spineless bootlickers to keep a fragile ego afloat (or fire those whose bootlicking skills are inadequate).
- He will not threaten to shutter a free press.
- He will not threaten violence against those who disagree with him.
- He will not be charged with massive tax fraud, election fraud or be indicted for bribing a foreign leader.
- He will not be indicted for making illegal payoffs to a porn star and a mistress.
- He will not let hundreds of thousands of people die of a disease he admittedly knew was deadly then lie about it to keep his election hopes alive.
- He will not organize a coup by blatantly encouraging his supporters to attack, batter, maim, and attempt to kill the Capitol police and the people they protect, the people who represent the third branch of our government.
Joe Biden may not be a Washington or Lincoln, but we know democracy is safe — at least for the next two years.
William Shaw, of Pinehurst, can be followed at williampshaw.substack.com.