Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Biden Bandwagon

Almost overnight, the presidential candidacy of Joe Biden has morphed from a trial balloon into a high-octane bandwagon.

The unofficial official roll-out of the Biden Balloon With Wheels came in the form of a Maureen Dowd column, published on Saturday. It's a textbook case of inside-the-Beltway influence-peddling told in the form of a sentimental narrative. Dowd, who has long had a soft spot for Biden and a hard spot for Hillary Clinton, comes from the same Irish Catholic working class background as the vice president. So right away there's the affinity, fraudulent or otherwise. Biden, or perhaps one of his inner circle, whispered in MoDo's ear the heart-wrenching story of how the dying Beau Biden begged his father to vanquish Hillary and run for president himself.

And thus is a legend and a candidacy born. As the dangerously maudlin Ronald Reagan once urged us to win one for The Gipper, so too do the moribund establishment Democrats want Joe to win one for the party.

Were it not for for Beau's dying wish, modern legend has it, Joe would never have the gall to challenge the Empress-in-Waiting. So the liberal world reads the Dowd column and weeps as it gets out its handkerchiefs and checkbooks. And the Washington Establishment breathes a sigh of relief as it begins its attempted neutralization of Bernie Sanders. They seem to think that Hillary's problem is mainly one of her robotic speaking style and her scandalous email server. Bernie is out-performing her on the stump, and what the Dems think they need is a barn-burning stump speaker like Regular Joe Biden, who despite his populist rhetoric, presents no real danger to the oligarchy. He is Barack Obama's zany white uncle in style, Obama himself in what passes for substance.

Dowd ineptly tried to disguise her blatant shilling for Biden by also floating a much smaller trial balloon for Howard Schultz,  CEO of Starbucks, and socially liberal billionaire darling of the centrist Washington Establishment. He loves conversations about race that consist of slogans on latte cups, he loves marriage equality, he loves diversity, and he especially loves pathological global corporate coups disguised as "free trade" deals. 

Reader comments to MoDo's article flowed in a torrent, with New York Times editors quickly segregating and highlighting the most fawning "Run, Joe, Run!" accolades. Thus is public opinion manipulated, thus are the ruling class's wishes honored, thus is a legend and a candidacy born. And thus  is Bernie Sanders left in the dust, as the rest of the Sunday Times home-page concentrates on the antics of Donald Trump, (several pieces) Obama's latest legacy-burnishing propaganda pivot, and the angst of millennials being robbed of their futures by greedy geezers on Medicare.

Here is my buried comment on Dowd's piece:
The Draft Biden movement sure is picking up steam in the corporate press. "Washington" is worried that Bernie Sanders is overshadowing unpopular Hillary, and they desperately need one of their own to quash the Bernie-mentum.

Who is more likeable than Joe? His folksy charm, his loveable gaffes, the outpouring of national sympathy after the tragic loss of his son, make him a natural replacement candidate. He is a centrist's dream: he can reach across the aisle and "get things done."

As Elizabeth Warren recounts in "A Fighting Chance," one thing that Biden got done in 2005 was co-sponsoring the bankruptcy reform bill, as dictated by the banks and credit card companies of his home state, Delaware. This bill, originally vetoed by Bill Clinton and signed into law by George W. Bush, makes it much harder, if not impossible, for working families with credit problems to get legal relief.

Despite his working class persona, Biden sold out to the plutocrats years ago. But unlike Bill and Hill, he's been in continuous government service the whole time. He doesn't charge millions for speeches, and he uses a government email server. He is suddenly "electable."

When Obama boasted last week that he could win a third term, it also seemed to be a tacit endorsement of Biden, who despite his grief, has worked overtime (as has Howard Schultz) selling those job-destroying corporate coups euphemized as "free trade" deals.

The fix, as ever, is in.
Incidentally, Warren's memoir glossed over the inconvenient truth that Hillary stabbed her in the back by promising to vote against the later version of the bill she voted for it. One team player cannot diss another team member, I suppose.

However, in her earlier book, "The Two Income Trap," Warren was less circumspect. Not yet a politician herself, she could afford to be blunt. She even went so far as to practically call Biden a misogynist:
Warren describes briefing Hillary Clinton, when she was first lady, about the bankruptcy bill backed by the financial industry. “It’s our job to stop that awful bill,” Warren quotes Clinton as saying. But several years later, when the bill came up for passage, Senator Clinton voted for it. “The bill was essentially the same but Hillary Rodham Clinton was not,” Warren wrote. As senator, “she could not afford such a principaled (sic) position…” When the bill finally passed, in 2005, then-Senator Joseph Biden was one of its biggest backers. “Senators like Joe Biden should not be allowed to sell out women in the morning and be heralded as their friend in the evening,” Warren said.
And then there was Biden's disgusting treatment of Anita Hill at Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Once Obama picked Biden as his running mate, Democrats became even more squeamishly loath to discuss that inconvenient truth.

And then there was this cringe-worthy moment with the wife of the incoming master of war defense secretary.

Of course, next to Donald Trump and the rest of the GOP circus, Biden looks like a noble Galahad in shining armor.

I've avoided writing about Trump on this blog, because he already has more than his share of publicity. But I did write a response to yet another New York Times "style over substance" political column by the lovely Ross Douthat.  The Times' resident white millennial conservative putz opines that Trump serves to give cover to the "moderate" Jeb Bush. He also thinks the Republican debates will be interesting, if not quite reaching the realm of importance. My comment:
Only to the self-referential Washington leisure/media class is the GOP reality show either interesting or important.

Those of us living in the real world have other things to worry about besides Trump's media-savvy buffoonery and Jeb's equally comedic "Right to Rise" militant preppie tone-deafness. Since billionaires are funding this stage show posing as a political debate, we might as well dispense with the official candidates, and have the Kochs and Sheldon Adelson duke it out with Trump on live TV. Let them fling their thousand-dollar bills at each other in lieu of answering questions. Bill it as the WWF of the Plutocrats, with spectators invited to cast their meaningless votes for which loathsome humanoid can best serve the interests of the .01%.

Ross rightly observes that the longer Trump prevails as ringmaster, the longer Jeb will be able to skulk around unnoticed as he vacuums up the lucre on his stealthy road to the nomination. But it's wrong to cast Jeb as a respectable moderate. He is neither respectable, nor even remotely moderate. He wants to destroy Medicare, invade whatever chunk of global real estate is still unsullied by the military-industrial complex, privatize the earth, and thus complete the radical right-wing revolution started by Reagan.

Scott Walker is the clown who might actually win the nomination. Because as bad as Jeb is, he just can't whine out the aggrieved hatred and the ignorance quite as well as Scottie, the ultimate Koch puppet.
Let's face it, though: the whorehouse known as the American media/political complex is mostly made up of puppets pulling the strings of other puppets. 


voice-in-wilderness said...

I just don't see any charm in Biden the way some people do. And I'm mystified by the transfer of sympathy for his son. I bet 50% of Americans don't even know that Biden is the Vice President of the USofA, never mind that he had a son. I've known who Biden was ever since his bad behavior with Anita Hill and it never crossed my mind to think about his children!

If he seems like an uncle it is because he is the kind you'd want to avoid at a family gathering, poking you annoyingly in the ribs and telling unfunny jokes.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen, I'm glad I didn’t read the Dowd piece. Too much. Do you mean the Times picks were mostly the pro Biden comments?

Bruni and Dowd bring down the quality of the Times op ed page. Better they should add to the Style Section, then detract from the op ed page.

Bruni just had yet a 3rd column on Trump. Too late to get in I commented:

Is this the 3rd Trump column in a row? And the debates haven’t even started.
Today’s entertainment/sociology column broadens the topic a bit to now scold all of American society for the low taste to promote such a creep. But millions of us never asked for Trump—as comments going back years attest, we find him repellent and absurd.

Bruni told us before that he once had dinner with Trump. Great to have a restaurant reviewer do political op ed. I guess journalists need strong stomachs. But this is prestige-- how many columnists excoriating DT today can say they actually dined with the Gop top poller?

You’re right the infotainment media spawned the Trump type blitz. It’s 24 hour cable shows on too many channels. It goes along with our cynical comedy and lack of respect for our politicians—well deserved.

Can you picture Walter Cronkite reporting this current DT ditziness, when Americans only had a few channels and ½ hour national news? He’d walk off the set and tell them to go to hell.

But this column itself is part of the entertainment-news complex. It cites all the celebrities---todays aren't enough so he had to go back to Marilyn. Bruni is following the trend that he seems to criticize---again.

Frank, just curious, any opinion on how the dem candidates would respond to Trump’s proposals—like HC, Sanders, OMalley?

Please, don’t let Trump Trash go to waste. Recycling political garbage to highlight the sane opposition is the smart way to raise the level of our politics.

Meredith NYC said...

Where Is Times Coverage Of ex Pres Jimmy Carter saying ---We Are an Oligarch (Rule By The Few). A reader comment said it:
steve sewall Chicago 1 hour ago
Mr. Brooks, .......
Recently Jimmy Carter called the United States "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting nominated for president. NYT didn't see fit to cover this stunning allegation from a living U. S. President. Why not?”

And from Rolling Stone:
Carter called “the country "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery" .....asked by Thom Hartmann Program about the Supreme Court's 2014 decision to eliminate limits on campaign donations, Carter said the ruling "violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system."

And NYT Kristof just wrote a defense of Carter against critics, but didn’t mention this.

YOU’D THINK that when an ex president of a nation once the democracy exemplar to the world says his country is an oligarchy, that maybe the nation's most prestigious, supposedly authoritative newspaper might mention it? Room for Debate? No, it takes a reader comment to let us know. As with so many things.

Pearl said...

A neighbor in my retirement development who was born in the US. had no idea who Bernie Sanders is and she watches CNN and a few Buffalo news stations. How come I don't see him on the U.S.TV news stations she asked? But I didn't have to do much explaining why. I will print out his statements in the emails I get and give them to her.

Meredith NYC said...

Pearl.....your neighbor has no idea? She should be examined by a doctor for alzheimers, or maybe she's lying. There are all sorts of characters out there!

For anyone interested, positive Sanders coverage is on msnbc ed schultz 5pm just about every day. No other show does this as much that i've run across.
Cspan just had an hour or more interview of sanders by an association of hispanic business people. very interesting wide ranging discussion, repeated a few times this weekend.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Q. Hillary C. or Joe B: Which one will Barack back?

A. "Present."

Pearl said...

Meredith: My neighbor is of sound mind but even I don't find coverage of Bernie on the TV news and CNN is always involved with the story of the week like the finding of a part from the Malaysian air liner disaster on an island. The local newspapers cover very little of U.S. news and I will start watching the one or two stations that you mentioned. But believe me, they are not into Bernie here especially with a national election coming up shortly. And we don't get C-Span on our regular major outlets. However e-mails to me include parts of speeches he is giving and they did cover his country wide speech the other day but not on the local news.

Meredith NYC said...

Pearl...You're so right... CNN is dependable for crime, and sensational, ghastly events, including crazy gop candidates, but not what we need to know in politics.

I used to watch Ed Schultz rather casually, but in the last few months I see he's had dependable coverage of Bernie Sanders, more so than other msnbc shows. He regularly has union officials on, and Lori Wallach, an expert to tell the truth on TPP.

His show is on video. Cspan likely has a video and transcript of Sanders' interview at the hispanic business group.

Pearl said...

Meredith: I just read that Ed Schultz and some others are being axed from msnbc. Maybe he spoke too much about Bernie Sanders. Know anything about this?

Meredith NYC said...

Pearl.....yikes,where did you read this? I know a few years ago Schultz was switched from weeknights to weekends....but then put on the 5pm daily slot after a while. I think he's popular. Someone with his topics should be on prime time and repeated like the other eve shows on msnbc. That channel isn't perfect, but it's far better than cnn, and is the only TV media ---outside of democracy now--- that is on the progressive side of issues---in topics and guests...tho they do have some conservative shows in the a.m.

Pearl said...

‘MSNBC’ Cancels Shows: Network Axes 3 Afternoon Programs, Ed Shultz To Depart Among Others via @theinquisitr

Meredith NYC said...

Pearl.....thank you for the link. I’m very dismayed. Ed has a goodby announcement on his website---he’s thankful for the chance to be on msnbc, and no hard feelings, he says.

They’re taking 3 shows off and putting Chuck Todd on for a news update format. They probably do constant updates of trivialities to compete with CNN and Fox to be first with the latest. That means less issue talk, more personalities and power plays.

They’ll try to stay on top of every twitch and squeak the many gop candidates and the Dems make. It should be an awful year. Maybe I’ll try to get Ed on his radio show on line, or whatever.

Already I’ve noticed the evening shows have gone down in quality, with constant blather and hype, aimed at dramatizing the campaign.

We have the world’s longest, most expensive and most painful to watch campaigns. Other countries do it in about 3 months, with mostly public funds, and strict limits on private donations, and with free media time just before the vote. This cuts down on the circus aspect, considerably.
Our system is set up for a media circus and huge profits. I’m sure the coming debates and commentary will be in the Twilight Zone.

Valerie said...

Great analysis of the failure of the TPP talks in Hawaii over at Counterpunch

Also, if anyone is interested in the Australian perspective, a really excellent article authored by Ian Verrender from the ABC/The Drum

Both articles beg the question, why should Australia be so keen to sign when the U.S. has its agriculture markets so closed to other countries' imports - so where is the free trade part? - whilst shoving ISDS and high priced pharmaceuticals down our throats.

The following from the Counterpunch article, "Even as the Australian delegation is ready to slash the wrists of sovereign credibility, along with other colleagues in the TPP circle, the litigation mounted by Philip Morris continues to take place against Canberra in secret . . . Having had their case demolished in the High Court, the corporate giants swooped in on the provisions of the Hong Kong-Australian trade deal which had, crucially, an Investor-State Dispute Settlements clause. These have flowered like vicious weeds in trade deals since the 1990s, when they were deemed exceptional."

Ya gotta wonder if the Australian politicians are on the take like most of the Congress and the President of the U.S. or they are just plain stupid. There is so little in the deal for Australia, yet on we march to destruction.

Valerie said...

Oh, and did you catch that the ISDS tribunal case is done entirely in secret? The defendants - the Australian government and its representatives - are not allowed to go public with this. Can you imagine? This suit by Phillip Morris went up through every court in Australia finally being shot down in the High Court and now Phillip Morris is suing Australia again through an ISDS "court" IN SECRET! Is this democratic? So why is it even being allowed to happen? Yet, here is Australia wanting to sign up for more of the same all so we can be signatories to the biggest free trade agreement ever? Unbelievable!

Bill Sprague said...

"... style over substance ..." When the copy editor at the New Yorker magazine emailed me back that there was effectively no difference between insure and ensure I became a former subscriber. Not that it makes any difference. Howard Schultz. Give me a break.