This is Joe Biden: Repolarization Anyone?

Image by Manny Becerra.

Genociden, Ecociden and Otherwise Sliden With Biden

Whatever one makes of the widespread belief that Joe Biden is cognitively decrepit, nobody who knows his past should be surprised by the moral decrepitude of his corporate imperial presidency, which has included:

+ signing on to escalated oil and gas drilling to crank up US carbon emissions amidst an eco-cidal climate catastrophe while claiming to be a pro-climate president.

+ pre-emptively breaking an overdue railroad worker strike and failing to advance significant labor law reform while posing as “the most pro-labor president in American history.”

+ failing to counter the Supreme Court’s female-enslaving Dobbs v. Jackson decision by using his use his power to protect and advance women’s right to an abortion in all US states – this while claiming to be for abortion rights and trying to exploit the Dobbs ruling for his and his party’s electoral advantage.

+ taking no serious action on behalf of Black civil rights and equality while posing as a great friend of Black America.

+ provoking and fueling a miserable war that has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians and significantly raised the chances of nuclear war – this while claiming to be defending democracy and peace in Europe.

+ embracing, funding, equipping and protecting Judeo-fascist Israel’s sadistic, vengeful, and racist post-October 7th program of openly genocidal ethnic cleansing in Gaza, which has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children in five months, shooting down United Nations ceasefire resolutions and calling himself “a Zionist”  – this while claiming to have great concern for Palestinian civilians.

Is it any wonder that Biden is in big re-election trouble, sliding in the polls with young, progressive, working class, poor, Black, Latino, Arab-American voters, many of whom are unwilling to vote for him next November, opening the door for a second and worse fascist presidential administration for Donald “Take Down the Metal Detectors Cuz the Oath Keepers Don’t Want to Hurt Me” Trump?

Lie’n Biden, the “Senator from MBNA”

This is who Biden is. “Genocide Joe” has always been a fake, a liar, and a servant of the capitalist-imperialist establishment.

In his first bad presidential campaign, Biden – a plagiarist in law school student days – was caught pilfering key lines and themes from British Labor Party candidate Neil Kinnock in a speech that deceptively portrayed Joe as a working-class hero who rose up from generations of coal miners.

In his second poor presidential bid in 2007, Biden weirdly tried to curry favor from voters by falsely telling an Iowa City audience that his first wife and daughter had been killed by a drunk truck driver.

In a political career that was rescued from the condescension of posterity by Barack Obama (in pursuit of a conservative white male running mate who would never outshine the first Black president),  Biden’s master lie has been his pretense of being Mr. Blue Collar, “Lunch Bucket Joe” from hardscrabble Scranton, Pennsylvania – a product and champion of the working class. This was the misleading storyline that the neurotic Obama bromancer Bruce Springsteen (himself an epic sell out with proletarian origins) helped Biden sell in an expertly crafted 2020 campaign commercial.

The populism-manipulating proletarian Joe narrative is mocked by Biden’s big Big Business-backing record in the US Senate, a record that includes:

+ Voting to rollback bankruptcy protections for college graduates (1978) and vocational school graduates (1984) with federal student loans.

+ Working with Republican allies to pass the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which put traditional “clean slate” Chapter 7 bankruptcy out of reach for millions of ordinary Americans and thousands of small businesses (2005).

+ Voting against a bill that would have compelled credit card companies to warn customers of the costs of only making minimum payments.

+ Honoring campaign donations from Coca-Cola by cosponsoring a bill that permitted soft-drink producers to skirt antitrust laws (1979).

+ Joining just one other Congressional Democrat to vote against a Judiciary Committee measure to increase consumers’ rights to sue corporations for price-fixing (1979).

+ Strongly supporting the 1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, which permitted the re-merging of investment and commercial banking by repealing the Depression-era Glass–Steagall Act. (This helped create the 2007-8 financial crisis and subsequent recession.)

+ Supporting the corporate-neoliberal North American Free Trade agreement.

“I Have No Empathy….Nothing Would Fundamentally Change”

In 2017, Biden defended big capital from criticism, writing that “Some want to single out big corporations for all the blame. … But consumers, workers, and leaders have the power to hold every corporation to a higher standard, not simply cast business as the enemy.” That was Blue Collar Joe propagating a capitalist fantasy – the existence of a democratic political system in which the popular majority has the power to hold concentrated wealth accountable.

In 2018, Biden told the Brookings Institution “I don’t think five hundred billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. The folks at the top aren’t bad guys,” Biden said as he claimed to worry about how the “gap is yawning” between the American super-rich and everyone else.

That same year, the pretend working-class hero Biden said he had “no empathy” for Millennials’ struggle to get by in the savagely unequal and insecure economy he helped create over his many years of service to his corporate and high finance masters. “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are—give me a break,” said Biden, while speaking to Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times last year. “No, no, I have no empathy for it, give me a break.”

Adding cold capitalist insult to neoliberal policy injury, Biden as a 2020 presidential candidate absurdly criticized those who advocate a universal basic income of “selling American workers short” and undermining the “dignity” of work. He opposed calls for free college tuition and Single Payer health insurance, going so far as to claim that he would veto Single Payer if it came to his desk as president!

And this is what Biden said to wealthy Wall Street donors at a posh Manhattan fundraiser in the spring of 2019:  “we do not want to demonize anybody who has made money…The truth of the matter is, you all know in your gut what has to be done. We can disagree in the margins …but nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change,” Biden promised, if he became president. It was a remarkable statement in a nation where tens of millions of children lived below the miserly federal poverty level and the top tent of the upper 1 Percent possessed as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

“I’ve Never Been Supportive of, You Know, ‘It’s My Body, I Can Do What I Want With It.”

Nobody should be surprised by Biden’s weakness and  disingenuousness on abortion rights, epitomized by his response when The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos recently asked him what he would do in a second term to protect abortion rights: “ Pass Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.” By Osnos’s account, “Democrats would need to win control of the House of Representatives and gain seats in the Senate, but Biden expressed confidence. ‘A few more elections like we’ve seen taking place in the states’ would suffice, has said. ‘You’re seeing the country changing.’”

Osnos failed to: (a) note the shamelessly dishonest absurdity of the notion that the Democrats will have the 60 US Senate votes required for the passage of a bill codifying Roe as federal law during Biden’s imagined second term; (b) ask Biden why he didn’t respond to the forced otherhood Dobbs ruling by issuing executive orders providing safe and legal abortion access on federal properties in all 50 states and the legal mailing of abortion pills through the US postal service across the entire country; (c) note the sheer preposterousness of Biden’s “country changing” comment when in actual historical fact a strong majority of Americans has long supported women’s right to an abortion.

Osnos is right, however, to suggest that Biden’s misleading abortion politics are consistent with Biden’s longstanding patriarchal Catholicism:

“For decades [Osnos writes], the politics of abortion were notoriously awkward for Biden. As a devoted Catholic and a liberal Democrat, he was torn between two creeds. Even after he became a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage and transgender protections, he remained, as he put it, ‘not big’ on abortion. ‘It’s always been a hard issue for him,’ an aide told me…reiterating his position on Roe, Biden [told Osnos], ‘I’ve never been supportive of, you know, “It’s my body, I can do what I want with it.’”

Jesus F’ng Christ, read that again: “I’ve never been supportive of, you know, ‘it’s my body, I can do what I want with it.’”

Biden has been particularly non-supportive of the notion that poor women can do what they want with their bodies. He helped effectively ban abortion for poor women with his support for the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which barred the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion except when the life of the woman would be endangered by carrying the pregnancy to term.

“You Ain’t Black”

Just as nobody should be surprised by Biden’s corporatism and and patriarchal sexism, Biden’s nothingness on Black equality is consistent with his record on racial justice. As a US Senator, Biden helped author and worked to pass the racist federal mass incarceration-ist Three Strikes crime bill of 1994.  During Biden’s first White House bid in the 1980s, he bragged about receiving an award from the virulent segregationist George Wallace. As a 2008 presidential candidate, Biden offered creepy racialized praise for presidential candidate Barack Obama by calling him “articulate” and “clean.” And as a 2020 presidential candidate, Biden:

+boasted of his ability to work with segregationists as a U.S. senator in the 1970s, when he opposed federal desegregation busing orders and worried about sending his children to desegregated schools.

+ trumpeted his ability to “work with” contemporary racist Republicans.

+ defended his past alliance with the racist Jim Crow Senator James O. Eastland by saying that Eastland “never called me ‘boy.’”

+ said that “poor kids” can do just as well in school “as white kids.”

+ tried to endear himself to Black voters by telling Black voters and children a bizarre story about an alleged past swimming confrontation with a young Black tough named “Corn Pop” (“Corn Pop was a bad dude,” Uncle Joe told his listeners).

+ Told listeners of a popular Black radio talk show that “you ain’t Black” if they didn’t vote for him.

+ Responded to a 2019 presidential debate moderator’s question about America’s responsibility to repair the legacy of Black chattel slavery with a bizarre and rambling answer suggesting that Black parents didn’t know how to properly raise their children.

An Empire and Israel Man   

As for imperialism and genocide, again, nobody should be surprised.  Biden offered no moral opposition to the US Crucifixion of Southeast Asia (the so-called Vietnam War), called 1960s-70s antiwar protesters “assholes,” applauded George HW Bush’s mass- murderous war on Iraq (“Desert Storm”), and helped lead the charge for George W. Bush’s monumentally criminal invasion of Iraq (an action that ended up killing Biden’s own son Beau) from the Democratic Party side of the US Senate.  Biden has always seen Israel as above public criticism because of its status as a critical US “strategic’ (imperial) ally. In 1986 he told his fellow US Senators that massive US military support for (the racist occupation and apartheid state of) Israel was “the best three-billion-dollar investment we make. Were there not an Israel the United States would have to invent  an Israel to protect her interests in the region.  The United States would have to go out and invent an Israel!”

Repolarization Anyone?

Thanks, Obama – thanks for rescuing this vapid and deceptive running dog corporate imperialist (who can’t even stop his beloved German Shepherds from biting his Secret Service agents) from the condescension of posterity by reckless putting his sorry old ass on the center stage of history. Great job, Barack.

Which of the two presumptive major party presidential nominees will begin their second horrific presidential administration on January 20, 2025? It’s hard to say eight months out even if the smart money is on the orange-hued putschist Hitler fan, the top dog January Sixer who has completely overtaken the Republi-fascist Party and who has the Supreme Court he made on his side in his effort to escape conviction for trying to overthrow previously normative bourgeois electoral and rule of law democracy, such as it is/was. (The imperialist incumbent is running ominously behind Donald “Poisoning Our Blood” Trump in national and swing state polls – no small matter considering the rightward tilt of an archaic, democracy-flunking Electoral College system that effectively requires the Democratic presidential candidate to beat his Republican opponent by at least 4% in the national popular vote to retain or gain the White House… and that hinges presidential election outcomes now on just a small handful of contested states).

One thing is clear as day: the abject moral rottenness and lethal menace of a capitalist-imperialist system that presents two decrepit criminals – Genocide Joe or the Sick Orange Sack of Fascist Shit – as our either-or “democratic choice” to head the world’s most dangerous nation. Academics, pundits, and activists routinely decry the locked-in “partisan polarization” that has infected US  politics and policy. But what’s required is not the end of polarization but rather a repolarization that pits the American masses under radical leadership against both dominant bourgeois parties and the underlying capitalist-imperialist system that both of those parties serve and that has given us this sickening and dystopian choice from Hell. For fuck’s sake people! Repolarization for revolution, anyone?

A version of this essay appeared previously on The Paul Street Report

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).