Running Biden vs. Governing Biden (Pick One)

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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to the media at the White House before he walks to Marine One on the south lawn on February 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Joe Biden and the Democrats got themselves elected. When do they plan to start governing?

Everyone was supposed to calm down once Uncle Joe took office. Good old Joe. CNN got it, running an article about how Joe plays Mario Kart with the grandkids, has a nice non-dumpster wood fire in the Oval Office, and goes to bed early. Politico ran a hard-hitting piece on how “the first couple’s romantic gestures aren’t just genuine — they’re restorative.” A lot of familiar people are in the cabinet and mid-level positions. It’s 2016 again. Safe, happy 2016. But better, as we now also have Kamala—remember her, the first ever this-and-that, before she fell down the vice presidential well?

It’s nice. But the governing part is off to a slow start. Congress has been busy, albeit with another failed impeachment trial (counting Russiagate/Mueller, let’s call it impeachment shot in the dark III) of a guy who is not even president anymore, with a 9/11-style commission apparently to follow. At his Senate hearing the nominee for Attorney General was goaded into agreeing to some sort of additional investigation. “Hold Trump accountable” people say. Well, he lost the election, that’s pretty accountable. As a topper, hearings are scheduled for the Postmaster General, about why maybe some mail-in ballots that did not matter because Biden won anyway might have been delivered late on accidental purpose five months ago.

Trump nostalgia? No, keeping fear alive seems to be the driver. For the first time in history the Capitol has a non-scalable fence separating it from citizens, while barbed wire will remain in place “while authorities work to track down threats.” The National Guard is on near-permanent assignment (cost to date $480 million) on the Hill for no apparent reason. Political theater, re-election stunts. A waste of time when the clock is running so hard against us.

Because if we accept the Democratic campaign premise that Trump nearly destroyed America, then this is a time of great urgency, life or death stuff. Things need fixing. But not that you’d know watching Biden and his Democratic Congress run the partisan table while the real problems sit like grandma in a Cuomo nursing home.

Let’s see what the Democrats, in full control of Congress, are really up to. They haven’t been in such a position of power since 2008 First Obama. Their solution to fix America? Stamp out the opposition ahead of the 2022 midterms.

Start with a mess o’ politically driven Executive Orders canceling Trump. No more Muslim ban! Yeah, except nobody can travel anyway because of COVID. Except of course everybody along the Mexican border with hazy asylum claims, whom Biden is fast-tracking into America. Business travel from Europe, hmmm, dangerous, but anyone living in a tent outside El Paso, bienvenido.

So it’s no surprise the first major legislation the Democratic Congress is to take up is an amnesty to transform the 11 million illegal immigrants who have collected in the U.S. since the last amnesty into 11 million new Democrats, er, citizens, within eight years (i.e., the next next presidential election). The bill includes $4 billion to boost economic development in Latin American countries, which are not in the unemployed United States. Viva!

Elsewhere the House wants reparations for slavery because that will fix everything on TV. The military and women’s sports have been restocked with transpeople. In another game-changing Executive Order, Biden revoked Trump’s E.O. creating an apprenticeship program paid for by industry to be replaced by one paid for by the federal government which will favor the unions Dems need for reelection. President Biden has shown real concern for Texas, hit by natural disaster, by ignoring it as if it were Puerto Rico or something.

But the real hot button issue is finding a way to wipe out trillions of dollars of student loan debt without any thought to the broader economic consequences of such a decision and without reforming the way higher education is funded going forward. Because giving out free temporary debt relief is a primary function of government, some clause or amendment they talked about in civics class the day everybody faked being sick to go to the KISS concert. The Dems haven’t (yet) gone as far as nominating the corpse of Ruth Bader Ginsburg back to the bench, but keep an eye on the news.

What about America’s real issues? Stuff like COVID vaccine availability, the economic and social effect of lockdowns (San Francisco kids are committing suicide at an alarming rate; in New York as well, but at least they’re not in cages), unemployment (millions of people are forbidden from earning a living by their government), maybe the crumbling infrastructure. Or lockdown-driven drug overdoses, with deaths 3x those from COVID in San Francisco. Not school openings, because the Dems owe the teachers’ unions big time for their votes. Biden is in deep: 20 percent of America’s COVID deaths, over 100,000 souls, occurred since his inauguration.

The solution so far? Most of Biden’s proposed porky $1.9 trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill has little to do with public health; only 1 percent is allotted to the vaccine. But here’s $1,400 bucks, knock yourselves out, buy stock in Gamestop.

Remember foreign policy? Joe said recently “diplomacy is back” so, well, OK then. Iran still needs tending to and says we’re moving too slow. Russia must be up to something. Word is China is a big dealio. Anything? Bueller? All we’ve gotten so far is a non-decision to not follow through on Trump’s troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and elsewhere along the failed path of the Global War of Terror. We do have Susan Rice’s next bright idea to look forward to. One hears Libya needs re-liberating.

Everyone knows it is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. The problem is the Dems have chosen to only do one, not attempt both.

On the other hand, think about how this might play in the midterms. Obama made the mistake of actually trying to take his election momentum and control of Congress and turn it into history-making healthcare reform. He ended up losing his majority and producing a new half-baked health care system to augment the old half-baked system while creating a political football for all to play with evermore.

Not so for the Biden Democratic party. Their goal is paying off electoral votes while finding ways to make January 6 a 2022 top-line issue for voters. That what running looks like, not governing.

“For four years, all that’s been in the news is Trump. The next four years, I want to make sure all the news is the American people,” Biden said during a campaign appearance at a CNN town hall tongue bath, albeit a month into his term as president not candidate. But while Biden takes pains to refer to Trump as “the former guy” or “the previous administration” the attention Trump gets from Congress and the media, coupled with Biden’s lack of action, keeps the whole machine in campaign mode. That always requires a villain, and that’s Trump. Dems want to run against Trump whether he’s ever again a candidate or not.

America needs more than that, Joe even told us so. Remember during the campaign when Joe promised to “crush” the virus the day he took office? We’re quarantining until our skin becomes translucent for lack of sunlight. Our national symbol is Karen telling people they need to wear yellow hazmat suits to Safeway or they’ll have her kid’s blood on their hands.

An America with its schools closed, its people out of work due to government decree, its worker’s economy wheezing, its faith in itself low, an America where no one believes anything is true anymore, and the president is just puddling along playing Mario Kart while settling political debts? Joe, you’ve been in office for six weeks, closing on half of those all-important First 100 Days.

Like about half the country, I didn’t vote for Biden, but like all of the country I live here. Unlike some Democrats, who for example realized lockdowns were a useful tool in destroying the economy that was leading to Trump’s re-election, I do not want to see further suffering for partisan gain. If a Democrat can solve some of our problems instead of using his dying breath to say “But it was Trump’s fault!” I celebrate that. We’re bleeding out here, Joe. 

Peter Van Buren is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan, and Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the 99 Percent.

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