Political Climate Change
Joe Biden’s re-election hopes are turning into a snowball’s chance in… winter?
In 1986, the band Genesis released a song called “Land of Confusion”, a pop anthem that poked its finger in the chest of America’s late Cold War culture. The video for the song featured puppets from the satirical British television show Spitting Image, the best being a brutal effigy of Ronald Reagan, who at the time was the oldest president our nation had ever had, and one whose Alzheimer-induced senility was a barely disguised secret.
Watching President Joe Biden take to the podium last week in a ruinous press conference meant to refute Special Counsel Robert Hur’s verdict that Biden should not be prosecuted for document hoarding on the grounds that he is a doddering Abe Simpson, I hearkened back to “Land of Confusion” ’s most pious lyric: “I won’t be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right.”
That generation was, of course, my generation: Gen X. Now, watching history repeat itself almost 40 years later, with a murmuring Democrat standing in the place where wrinkled Ronald Reagan once stood, I am reminded afresh that my generation did not, in fact, set things right, that instead, we let our parents remain at the wheel long after they stopped passing the eye exam.
As I write this, upstate New York is enjoying a freakishly warm February, a warning of a nightmare summer to come. The frightening pace of Global Warming is another prime example of my generation not setting things right. But I can hardly blame Joe Biden for hand-waving this global catastrophe— the weather probably feels great to him! By allowing the elderly to retain their positions of power — whether they be autocrats in China, Russia or Israel, or our own freely* elected Washington gerontocracy— the entire planet has been forced to adjust the thermostat to their comfort level.
The Democratic media circled their wagons around the aging Biden from Day One of his presidency, his praises sung as “the hero we need, not the hero we deserve”. Since the advent of Israel’s butchery of the Palestinians, however, those wagons are now thick with arrows. And following Biden’s press conference, it is not clear how much longer they can hold out.
With the terror of Trump’s indefatigable personality haunting every liberal’s dreams, the special pleading on Biden’s behalf has reached a fever pitch. ABC News soft pedaled the fallout from Biden having confused Mexico’s president with Egypt’s by calling it a mere “verbal slip”. (Come on! Haven’t we all all done that at the very moment we were asked to prove our lucidity?) Meanwhile, the New Republic dares us to deny that Joe Biden is actually a “great president”, a claim they chose to illustrate using an AI-generated nightmare image straight out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Politico, the Machiavellian news site of the dyspeptic neo-liberal donor class, has skipped the Biden apologias entirely to advocate outright “seizing on any chance to complicate the ballot access of the third-party candidates and attempting to discredit their motives.” But the PBS News Hour episode that followed Biden’s press conference is the worst offender I have seen so far. The show first raced to calm the public’s nerves about Biden’s fizzling memory with a bunch of “we’re only human” claptrap, and then ran video from his presser that selectively edited out Biden’s most damning moment: When the President held up as proof of his brain’s fidelity a rosary that son Beau had given him from Our Lady of… of…
(Well, we’ll never know. )
All this comes after many months of mounting concern from the centrist left that the issue of Biden’s age has finally taken root in voters’ brains alongside all the other disappointing features of the Biden years to date. Listen to any New York Times podcast and you will hear (in-between plinkings of twee interstitial music) their reporters return again and again to the country’s lack of enthusiasm for Biden. They blame Tik Tok for Biden’s stinker poll numbers and roll their eyes at the emotionalism of Biden’s detractors as they search for the right words to convince the little people that “Bidenomics” is a hit. It’s a bubble of delusion I remember well from the Hillary campaign, and it ought to concern the liberal left as much as the near absence of snowflakes this past December should.
The Democrats have never been more blind to the failure of their party: Its bench empty of young risk takers amd its utter lack of a narrative bespeak a hollowed out rasion d’être. Biden’s record (besides the truly meritorious act of ending the war in Afghanistan, a PR disaster nonetheless) now stands at two Treasury-draining proxy wars that the public has wearied of, the overthrow of Roe with barely any White House pushback, the near total abandonment of the working class when it comes to the minimum wage and debt relief, no declaration of a Climate Emergency, and one desperate Hail Mary act of lawfare after another against Donald Trump, from the transparently political Mar-a-Lago documents case to the last, desperate hope of kicking Trump off the ballots in Colorado and Maine (I guess someone has been reading Politico!)
And all this because Placeholder Joe Biden has convinced himself that only he, a man with one foot and four toes in the grave, can steer America’s ship of state through these multiplying crises. Yet we are told that it is Trump’s ego that is out of control.
Are we the Soviet Union? Do we not see the price we are paying for this inertia? Ruth Bader Ginsburg clung to her position in the Supreme Court until her soul was reaped, and thus cost women in this country far more than she ever gave them. Now an entire media apparatus is pulling as one in a pathetic effort to gaslight our nation into feeling confident that a dry crust of bread will win the day in November against America’s most beloved criminal.
My generation still shows no signs of setting things right, and has more or less bought into the Thanatos of the moment. Those people my age who didn’t become the Q-Anon cranks of the right are now the Resistance Libs of the left, too terrified of Trump to think straight, happy to let the Democratic Pee-Paw’s steer us into oncoming traffic rather than grab the wheel. Will the successor generations to my own — those doom-scrolling, chest-binding American otakus — change our nation’s course before Greenland is lapping at our doors? Stay tuned!