Life And Ego Take Their Toll On Joe Biden

IS it time to be magnanimous as Joe Biden’s political career draws to a close? He could still do passably well in other places but the chances of becoming front-runner again after his Iowa and New Hampshire debacles seem increasingly remote. Nor does it seem likely the old black ops crew that sidelined Bernie Sanders for Hillary Clinton in 2016 can pull off the same ploy again. It’s not even about the primaries really. Joe Biden has changed. Yes, he has grown older but there’s more to it than that. He seems out of his element on the hustings, no longer cheerful and very often angry. He talks about the past – his past – and comes across as resentful of all the new preoccupations foisted on the Democratic contenders day after day, week after week. He just wants to talk about emotions, loss and his own ill-defined ability to make everything right again. Enough with the details already, his mood emphatically says. He even struggles to read scripted vision statements with conviction. Prior to Iowa, Benjamin Wallace-Wells for The New Yorker penned one of those campaign trail features that insider journalists in the US do so well – filled with human bric-à-brac and private moments. Wallace-Wells obviously admires Biden but, intended or not, his piece is almost touchingly sad.

Is Scranton’s most famous son really “the most gothic figure in American politics … haunted by death,” as the Irish columnist Fintan O’Toole recently wrote in the New York Review of Books? Based on what he has seen, Wallace-Wells seems to think so. Biden’s loss of his first wife Neilia and daughter Naomi in a 1972 car accident – a crash that also injured his sons Beau and Hunter – was horrific enough to have destroyed less wilful men. It took courage to carry on. The death of his very capable son, Beau – on a certain path toward national office himself when diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010 (dying in 2015) – was another heavy blow. The story of Hunter also trails off morbidly but into a saddening ellipsis of a different kind. “Fredo – well, Fredo …” as Vito Corleone started to explain.

Biden’s critics are inclined to argue that however deserving of respect he is for bearing crosses this crushing, his years-long habit of mentioning – and mischaracterising – the accident that killed his wife and daughter cheapened the story and its teller. The truck-driver who hit the family’s station wagon that day at an intersection – Curtis Dunn – was not drunk, as Biden claimed on at least two occasions. Was this grotesque mendacity for a pity dividend or was it the delusional embellishment of a wannabe Great Man enlarging his own suffering for biography’s sake? Neither Theodore Roosevelt nor John F. Kennedy – both of whom lost two family members in less prominent years – ever spoke of them in public and certainly not on the stump.

My reading of Biden as a man is that he was indeed affected, even traumatised, by the tragedy of 1972. That sort of pain changes and afflicts. Watching a son die over the course of five years would also have been nightmarish to endure. Where I take my leave from more indulgent defenders is the point at which fight-back became fuel and justification for narcissism and entitlement. The insulting arrogance to even mildly querulous citizens seen occasionally in this campaign is not new. Biden has always been breathtakingly pompous about his own power, embroidered intellect and rank. He has been disparaging people for decades. All of these ‘I’m special but you’re not’ instincts coalesced to produce the handsy ring-leader at all those awkward photo-ops with girls, women and humiliated subordinate males made famous by YouTube. I even wonder whether Biden’s political decline didn’t actually begin when this cache of body-rubbing, hair-sniffing and tween-kissing videos went viral. He is no molester, though if he was a Republican he would have been run out of contention years ago. He was a good Vice-President in the sense that he was happy at second fiddle – provided everybody accepted that once he left Barack Obama’s presence, he was first fiddle pro tempore.

Lachrymosity is bad enough in the privileged but it should be considered verboten to biographers and even second-rate thumbnail sketch artists like me. Unlike Roosevelt and Kennedy, reporters tend to see personal tragedy as ennobling when publicised – a least for fellow travellers. You won’t come across humane accounts of Donald Trump’s loss of a brother by Wallace-Wells or O’Toole and you certainly won’t see them inventory the toll taken on the President’s family by despicable lies – which Joe Biden, for one, was happy to retail for three years. President Trump has only shown emotion once since he was elected. It was last week when he addressed a Prayer Breakfast after being acquitted by the Senate. He spoke of what his family had been put through by people he rightly described as evil. Biden lost Beau but at least he didn’t have to endure a son of tender years hear tell of prostitutes urinating on his father’s bed. An alleged Catholic, he could have called enough on that but didn’t. He had the seniority and the authority. Challenged by cynics about how serious his faith could be as a pro-abortion Democrat who ‘married’ two White House staffers as Vice-President in 2016, he threatened to “shove my rosary beads down their throat.” I hope he keeps hold of them instead to contemplate the Mysteries; none of which – not even one of the Sorrowful – is how he failed to become President.

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15 Responses to Life And Ego Take Their Toll On Joe Biden

  1. Professor Fred Lenin

    Who better to lead a confused ,dysfunctional deluded entitled buch of fifth raters called decromats who believe i totally discredite marxist theory , than a totally corrupt venal geriatric fool like Biden ?
    He is made for the job the seventh rate vice president of a tenth rate half caste shit stirrer creature of the evil schwartz?soros) he may even be a superior candidate to the late Hilarity Criminal er Clinton .
    Where in the name of Gaia do they find these tossers ? When I was young they wouldnt have been allowed out of the asylumthey were restrained in .

  2. JC

    Biden is a piece of shit, pure and simple. No amount of grief should exonerate a canute like him to accuse the truck driver of being drunk when in fact he wasn’t. Also, if truth be told, it was Biden’s wife who fucked up and caused the accident.

  3. C.L.

    Yep. She pulled in front of the ‘tractor-trailer’ as the Americans call them.
    If you read the Curtis Dunn link, you can read about this sterling family man and how he suffered badly from the memory of the accident. His family was livid when Biden invented the story of their father being drunk at the wheel. This is an established lie for which Biden has never apologised.

  4. Mother Lode

    Unlike Roosevelt and Kennedy, reporters tend to see personal tragedy as ennobling when publicised – a least for fellow travellers

    Kierkegaard, the philosopher who used to share the conversation pit with the Piranha brothers biting the heads off whippets, and who wrote Fear and Trembling.

    He wrote there (in the book, not in the conversation pit) about the classical Greeks and about how, in mythology and drama, a king is compelled by a good to sacrifice his own daughter. The king with tears streaming and weighed down by wretchedness, pausing occasionally to lift his voice piteously, yet eloquently, beseeching the heavens, slowly shackles his daughter to the cliff face in preparation for whatever monster is to be unleashed.

    The crowd watches on, wailing and beating their breasts, watching the kings terrible tragic ordeal.

    The whole thing is a public display. The king receives the solace of the crowd and they share in the hardship.

  5. Bruce of Newcastle

    IS it time to be magnanimous as Joe Biden’s political career draws to a close?

    No.

    He, his son and his brother all should be sentenced to lengthy terms for corruption and sedition. They can serve their time in the same Fed Pen that Obama and Hillary are in.

    Justice for all.

  6. notafan

    Another great piece CL

    Your thumb nail seems pretty accurate to me.

    A pox on these faux Catholics!

  7. Wozzup

    “Is Scranton’s most famous son really “the most gothic figure in American politics … haunted by death……..”

    I am not convinced that Biden is haunted by death at least not his own.
    But I am very sure he is haunted by something he sees as a far worse fate: irrelevance.
    Yes, Joe suffers terribly from relevance deprivation syndrome and fears it will grow worse with time. This is the reason he so manically pursues the office of President. Even though I am sure he understands deep down he is not up to the job – if he ever was.

  8. Arky

    A bully, a thug and an asshole.
    All too frequently close family die, often by suicide, around these types of men.
    His type makes me wonder what really happened in that car accident.

  9. Arky

    All we know about his wife’s death is she drove into the path of a truck:
    ..

    Further, police determined that Biden’s wife “drove into the path of Dunn’s tractor-trailer, possibly because her head was turned and she didn’t see the oncoming truck.”

    ..
    -Red State.

  10. H B Bear

    I hear his family is very popoular in Ukraine.

  11. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    Biden is truly loathsome individual who possesses no redeeming features whatsoever. His very public descent into embarrassing and bleedingly obvious senility is some small payback for this fact.

    Were he to suffer an Arkancide event (or even die of natural causes), I would “be with champagne”.

  12. old bloke

    I’d vote for Corn Pop before voting for Joe.

  13. miltonf

    Biden is the typical career politician. Maybe more of a grub than others of his ilk. The sense of entitlement is breath taking. Has he ever done an honest day’s work in his life?

  14. Whalehunt fun

    Bugger magnanimous. This person is a Democrat. And every Democrat is a piece of socialist filth, a thieving lowlife piece of scum. Socialists steal your money to piss it away on their own sick fantasies. Throughout history whenever and wherever socialism has not been a capital offence with public executions of them as entertainments, the country or countries have suffered severely. Time to criminalise it again.

  15. C.L.

    Correction made to text: I checked the Pee-Pee Tape account and remembered that the prostitutes peed on Steel’s imaginary bed, not on Trump.

    You lose track of these important details so easily. 🙂

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