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Joe Biden Challenge

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  • Joe Biden Challenge

    Roll up, roll up, roll up, for there are prizes to be won! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s time for the Joe Biden Challenge. And all you need to do to win the big game is, wait for it . . . name a single — yes, a single — thing that this president has demonstrated himself to be good at since he took office back on January 20.

    There are a few rules, caveats, and provisos here, of course. First, this is a game of absolutes, so you can’t use any relative words such as “better,” “preferable,” or “improvement.” If he’s not good at it in a vacuum, it doesn’t count. Second, we’re talking about President Biden — you know, the man in charge — so you can’t skirt the inquiry by shouting “but Donald Trump!” And, third, this is not a matter of whether you agree or disagree with the president’s political views, or whether you voted for him in the 2020 election given the choices that were on offer. It’s much, much simpler than that. To win the game, you just have to find a single concrete virtue that Joe Biden brings to the table as the head of the executive branch of the federal government.

    Tough, right? He’s not an ideas guy — indeed, it’s hard to conceive of a politician less likely to arrive at a coherent solution. He’s not an independent thinker. He doesn’t sit above the fray. And he’s more of a rambler than a listener, all told. As a communicator, he’s just awful. His speech is incomprehensible, his briefs are rarely mastered, and, on the rare occasions on which he has been permitted to try, he has proven unable to answer questions in an apprehensible manner. He has access to the bully pulpit, yes. But he has no idea how to use it. He is utterly, completely, unusually unpersuasive.

    He’s not a manager, either. When he makes a promise, his agencies don’t follow through. When he tries to cajole his party, he leaves it more divided, rather than less. When projects are placed directly in his hands, he has a habit — if I may borrow from Barack Obama — of f***ing them up. He does not abide by his oath of office. Having promised to do otherwise, he ignores the Constitution with the best of them, happily criticizes the Supreme Court, and picks fights with the states that displease him. He said he was a “uniter.” He’s not. He said he was a moderate who would stand up to the crazies on his own side. He’s not. He said he was “honest.” But he’s not — as his recent behavior has made abundantly clear.

    Often, he doesn’t know what’s going on under his nose, and, when he does, he exhibits a third-rate mind, a fourth-rate temperament, and an alarming proclivity toward anger when challenged. The empathy on which he prides himself is selective, selfish, and, at times, downright mawkish. He excels at none of the core functions of the presidency, he is visibly bereft of energy, and he has a tendency to run away when things get tough. His foreign policy is a disaster. His military planning is a bad joke. And, despite declaring stupidly that “America is back,” he has managed to outrage our allies with his fecklessness and his pride. Per recent polling, there is not a single major issue on which he is trusted. Not COVID-19, which he promised to “shut down.” Not the economy. Not immigration. Not his leadership of the military. While running for president, Biden said he hoped to restore faith in government. He’s failed.

    He’s even failed at the superficial, superstitious, intangible stuff. Under his leadership, Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, dissatisfied with the economy, dissatisfied with America’s role in the world, and dissatisfied with the prognosis for the pandemic. Economic confidence is low, 61 percent of Americans think the country is on the “wrong track,” and as many voters now believe that he doesn’t “care about them” as believe that he does. The bulk of Americans consider him weak, inept, and deceitful, and, already, a majority are hoping he lasts only one term.

    To reiterate the big question, then: What, exactly, is Joe Biden good at? What is the one thing that, stepping back from our ideological differences, one could objectively praise him for? What, were Biden submitting a CV for the role, would he be able to cite without prompting laughter. Anyone?
    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.