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Rerunning Biden’s Blunderland

President Joseph Biden has done what many from his own party dreaded but dare not say. Last month, via a painful video, the aged Democrat declared his candidacy for a second term in the White House, branding himself a defender of US democracy. For a politician lacking the mettle of competence, awareness, and, at certain points, basic clarity of the world he inhabits, this was astonishing. The doddery are in; the young, or younger, are frowned upon as incapable of taking the mantle.

The result is a candidate being kept, like the Mikado, close at hand, let out on occasion to see some sunlight, but otherwise shut off from the world. Even when Biden is allowed out for his walk and scripted speech, his handlers only do so with a sense of dread: when will he slip or, as Hilary Clinton liked to call it, succumb to “misstatement”?

The New York Times was careful on the lead-up. “Behind the scenes, advisers, and allies are weighing how soon the president should set in motion a re-election operation – an announcement that will surprise noone but will signal the start of a challenging new phase of his presidency.”

What an understatement. Most Democrat voters do not want a second Biden presidency. A vote cast his way will be done grudgingly, especially if the rival GOP candidate is Donald Trump. The machinery of the party is already getting ready to deny oxygen to fresher faces.

Biden does command a following, of sorts, though the thinking behind it is shallow. Ezra Klein, for instance, has decided that age is not quite the problem some claim it to be. The aging figure “proved – and keeps proving – doubters like me wrong. He won the Democratic primary, even though voters had no shortage of fresher faces to choose from. He won the general election handily, despite Donald Trump’s vaunted talents as an insult comic and a social media force.” Klein goes on, with almost delusionary conviction: “Voters seemed perfectly happy with Biden as a communicator.”

One who could not disagree more with the idea of Biden 2.0 is Julian Epstein, who served as Chief Counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee and was Staff Director to the House Oversight Committee Democrats. While accepting that Trump gave the Democrats ample subject matter to draw upon, a seemingly endless well of bile to feed on – the refusal of Republicans to detach themselves from the orange ogre; his treatment of the pandemic; his heavily flirtatious dabbling with extremists – the Democrats had their own problems.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Epstein declared that his fellow Democrats had “shown their own kind of cowardice by refusing to say that President Biden shouldn’t run for re-election.” The Democratic elites had decided “that any dissent from party leadership or independent thinking – even in the name of the obvious truth – is dangerous to their job security.”

Attacking Biden, or dismissing him as woefully uncredible, has become “tricky”. To regard the president as blithering, vague, and barely present, is to run the risk of being labelled an ageist, or even sadist. But on the policy front, Biden’s policy legacy, Epstein argues, is questionable, domestically bleeding the blue-collar vote, while baffling the foreign policy establishment with spectacular moments of foggy-headed utterances.

Over Taiwan, he has been nothing short of abysmal, fumbling, gaffing (to the truth, perhaps?) over US policy towards the island entity. In May 2022, he bamboozled commentators and the press corps on whether the US would go to war over the island were it to be attacked by China, thereby holing the policy of “strategic ambiguity” in place since 1979. “Yes,” came his reply to the question. “That’s the commitment we made.”

At the time, White House correspondent for Agence France-Presse, Sebastian Smith, was stunned. “Biden’s affirmation that ‘yes’ the US would defend Taiwan really raised adrenaline levels in that palace briefing room right now. Next, we all get to try and explain what it all actually means.”



The efforts to explain did not stop there. By September 2022, Biden had mangled strategic ambiguity no less than four times. Zack Cooper, Senior Fellow for the American Enterprise Institution, observed bluntly that, whatever Biden’s strategists might claim about the unchanged nature of US-Taiwan policy, “the strategy for achieving this objective has changed. Biden is choosing to be less ambiguous about US intentions in case of an unprovoked attack on Taiwan.” His advisers should, accordingly, “acknowledge this inescapable reality.”

On his trip to Ireland in April this year, Biden’s blunders were also monumental, though largely laughed off (“delicious,” declared the Irish Times) as the product of an entertainingly addled mind. During a speech at the Windsor pub in Dundalk, County Louth, he confused the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team with the odious Black and Tans, infamous for their bloodletting during the 1919-1921 Irish War of Independence.

Biden’s distant cousin, former Irish rugby player Rob Kearney, played a role in Ireland’s first victory over the often invincible All Blacks in 2016. “He was a hell of a player,” remarked the president, “and he beat the hell out of the Black and Tans.” Staff at the White House promptly went to work airbrushing this error from history; those in Ireland were left “in stitches”.

On a more serious note, another Biden administration, flavoured by the bouquet garni of error, is likely to make more wars, not fewer, likely. In the Indo-Pacific, a containment strategy of China is being pursued with militaristic glee, with a bewitched Australia supplying the strategic real estate in a policy of forward defence. In Ukraine, a proxy war with Russia continues to be waged, drawing NATO and the US into ever closer conflict. Biden’s Blunderland does not promise to be pretty, let alone an entertaining place.


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  1. Murray Maxwell

    Biden is the most competent and likely Democrat to beat Trump !!!!

  2. Roswell

    I’m fine with Joe. He had a number of things to fix when he came in and with a competent team he has got the job done.

    However, I do recall him saying that he’d hand over the reins after one term.

    What must Kamala be thinking?

  3. Douglas Pritchard

    There could be others who have followed “South Park” over the years.
    The kids seem to run elections with the candidates being a Turd Sandwich, and something else which is so disgusting that I would rather not repeat it.
    As a democracy we have made mistakes in picking a person who most represents the best of us. The best of our species.
    But this ages long to and fro between Joe and Trump must speak volumes about the friend we persist with?

  4. Clakka

    Trump is so truly psychopathic, and soon likely to be revealed as the abject loser he really is. But who would take the poison chalice of POTUS as America’s utterly broken political and economic systems go down the gurgler, dragging much of the rest of the ‘west’ with it? Not a peep to be heard. Seems (good old Joe) Biden will take the fall.

  5. Andrew Smith

    Another aspect of Biden that is discussed often, is his age, as a disadvantage.

    However, this is not a disadvantage when US electorates, especially regional, are ageing. Accordingly, Biden fits quite comfortably with the (above) above median age demographic i.e. baby boomer ‘bomb’ and oldies who have been targeted relentlessly by legacy media and fringe media including FoxNews etc. on behalf of the GOP and MAGA.

    Anyone in the US, and have heard much anecdotal locally (e.g. Sky News AD etc.), can point to oldies becoming radicalised by such media’ paranoid and alarmist talking points, especially white nativism & sociocultural issues e.g. LGBT, women’s rights etc., then reinforced by word of mouth in their social circles.

    Increasing voter age is becoming more common and for manipulation too, globally and in the US:

    ‘While many younger Americans expressed similarly bleak morning-after sentiments on Nov. 9, the same rejoinder applies: The older generation overwhelmingly showed up to vote; most younger citizens simply didn’t.’ (not just Trump’s election but also Brexit).

    Accordingly, looking ahead when demographics balance out post baby boomer, we already see moves by the right on (‘Kochian’) Voter ID as a form of voter suppression; the LNP mooted it but the UK Tories have implemented this ‘solution’ to a non existent problem.

    A US doco ‘The Brainwashing of my Dad’ explained well how this political media ecosystem worked (taking advantage of those with less education, less diversity and less exposure to the world).

  6. Siew Wong

    The Democrats should be led by a more competent leader instead of allowing Joe Biden to continue into a second presidential term. Biden is dangerous for world peace and cooperation. He is one of the most hawkish American presidents. Under his watch, he has escalated the Ukraine War to a dangerous level and risked a nuclear conflict with Russia. He has also escalated the US’ anti-China hostility to the point of risking a serious war with China, especially over Taiwan. Biden is not a man of peace. I have little respect for this man.

  7. Canguro

    Siew Wong’s comments ring true. America has suffered from a dearth of genuine leadership for the last twenty or thirty years or longer, perhaps as far back as Jimmy Carter before one finds a man of moral integrity, and prior to him the list is similarly dispiriting; Ford, Nixon, Johnson, the tragedy of Kennedy, then Eisenhower whose prescient cautionary words regarding the overwhelming danger of the MIC and its pernicious influence on American geopolitical strategy were ultimately ignored.

    We all of us, global citizens, have paid a heavy price for the allotment of power to these American apparatchiks who worship at the feet of Mammon and his weaponised adherents; we are all the worse for this obscene behemoth’s vulgar and destructive presence on humanity’s stage, and, deeply unfortunately, its reluctance to retire from the limelight.

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