By Grace Vuoto
The presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump in national and many state polls, according to Real Clear Politics. One of the reasons for this surge is that the media has presented Trump as an incompetent leader who cannot handle the coronavirus pandemic. By contrast, Biden has been campaigning in his basement without too much scrutiny, remaining a blank slate in the public imagination.
But who is Joe Biden? Is he “Middle-Class Joe,” a moderate, folksy Democrat who will defend the rights and needs of workers? Is he the Biden we knew as vice-president in the administration of Barack Obama who championed American retreat on the international stage, with constant apologies for our history and our identity?
Is he the experienced, capable leader who would resist the radicals in his party, as he claimed during the Democratic primaries? Or is he the right hand of the progressives, as evidenced by his current platform fashioned by the socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and the radical leftist Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren? He trounced them both in the primaries only to have adopted many of their positions subsequently.
Is the current Democratic nominee hoodwinking the progressives in his party because he needs their vote in November, but will really be more moderate once elected? Or is he hoodwinking the general public that he is a responsible, sensible leader and then will seek to implement the radical ideas of the most virulent members of his party? Who is he deceiving?
The answer to this question is: yes. He is all of these and none of these. He is whatever he needs to be to achieve his primary objective: political power. He is a master at this singular pursuit, serving in Washington D.C. since 1973 when I was only three years old.
As I celebrate my 50th birthday this year, with the exception of only a handful of years, Biden has served in government. He was re-elected to the Senate six times, then served eight more years with Barack Obama. During his sunset years, now 77 years old, instead of enjoying children and grandchildren, he is again pursuing political power. This is his third run for the presidency; he tried in 1988, 2008 and now in 2020.
Trump has referred to Biden as “Sleepy Joe” and has brought attention to his cognitive difficulties. But Biden is less sleepy than he is slippery. The public has largely overlooked or forgiven the former vice-president’s gaffes, errors and even plagiarisms. They will forgive his verbal salads. They will look with sympathy on his age if this is offset by a belief that his experience will restore public health and the economy.
Rather than buying into Biden’s image as a loveable, error-prone, crazy uncle, Trump should expose him as a politician without core convictions. Americans forgive errors but not phonies.
I met Biden in New Hampshire during the primaries. He stopped to shake every hand and flatter anyone who spoke to him. He called my daughter a little princess and made her day. For five minutes, he was affable and charming.
But what affable, charming uncle do you have that has been in the nation’s capital for over nearly fifty years and is earning to get right back into that swamp?
The truth is, he projects normalcy, but is the very opposite.
Biden will be whatever you want him to be as long as you vote for him. And then, he will morph into his next ambition.
To vote for him is to wander into the unknown.
-Grace Vuoto is a columnist and regular commentator on WRKO in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a former nationally syndicated radio host, editor at The Washington Times and university professor.