He’s melting, but from a base not nearly as insubstantial as we said in HL 98 of March 24, 2020, an “ice cube.” And going on to say that “[t]hose of us who have closely watched as time ravaged the once sharp or even brilliant minds of loved ones and colleagues, recognize what is happening to the good soldier Joe.” He proved our metaphor wrong, though not necessarily the diagnosis, rallying, winning both the primary and general, transitioning to power despite the November 3 to January 20 insurrection and taking charge in a manner that had many calling his presidency “transformative” during the first few months.
Nevertheless, recent major errors clearly evidence decline. The questions are how fast and how thick is the ice. It’s not merely a cube as we said nor as massive as Greenland, with its 600-year shelf life. The scale ranges from block to iceberg and we hope it’s large and solid enough to last through the midterms and most importantly during the next six crucial months. We must not confuse accelerated and pathological decline with what simply is in the nature of things, where shit happens.
Horrifying images of horses herding Hatians in Del Rio (formerly best known for its “pink and pleasant plastic” dashboard ornaments) and of the ten Afghan civilians killed in the mistargeted drone strike near Kabul occurred on his watch but are not Biden’s fault. They are tragic products of longstanding and virtually intractable incidents of superpower nationhood, i.e., national borders and the need to (humanely) enforce and protect them both here and abroad.
The exit from Afghanistan and the rollout of the “AUKUS” nuclear submarine alliance not only occurred on his watch but have his fingerprints all over them, with predicted emerging stories about rejected advice from subordinates.
For comparison with the President’s sad and silly defense of the planning and execution of the withdrawal from Afghanistan we examined President Kennedy’s April 20, 1961, address, the day after the Bay of Pigs debacle. JFK seems to be speaking to Biden when saying “the President of a great democracy. . . owe[s]. . . the people: an obligation to present the facts. . . . On that unhappy island [Cuba]. . . the news has grown worse instead of better.” Kennedy described what had happened, his folly in having underestimated Castro’s strength (think Taliban) the danger posed by Russian armaments 90 miles from Florida (think Afghanistan once again a staging ground for attacks on our homeland) and ended with a pledge to do better. As he did a year plus later in the face-off and resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The way Biden handled the US/UK/Aussie alliance for deployment of American nuclear submarines in the Pacific was even worse. Because it was a glaring failure in Biden’s sweet spots of alliances, foreign policy and diplomacy. It could not be rationalized as the awkward but necessary final steps to implement actions and decisions of previous administrations.
For comparison this time we turned to Rudy, not the one from Notre Dame, but Manhattan College graduate Giuliani. At a May 10, 2000, press conference Rudy announced he was divorcing wife, Donna Hanover, before privately informing her. Biden did barely better, letting our oldest ally France know a day before it was announced that the AUKUS deployment of U.S. subs would cause Australia to renege on a $66 billion deal to buy French diesel subs and that there was neither business nor any role for France in the new Indo-Pacific strategy to confront Beijing’s intention to turn the Pacific into a Chinese lake.
“Hey Joe,” it’s time for that one and other slogans, lyrics and platitudes. Stop sayin’ “it ain’t so” – admit error, promise to improve and like JFK “make it happen.” The next half year presents so much danger and so many opportunities. We “want you on that wall, we need you on that wall.” The house speaker in waiting makes Newt Gingrich look like Disraeli and the once and he hopes future President makes the second worst former president look like Churchill. “Boy, boy, crazy boy, get cool boy.”