Like a cat with nine lives, Joe Biden keeps returning to the presidential race with a consistency akin to his votes for war — hard to find a war Joe did not like.
He voted for the Iraq war, still running in one form or another with American troops on the ground — despite a vote in the Iraqi parliament for their withdrawal. As Obama’s vice-president, his hands are soiled with the bombings and killings in Yemen; extending the Afghan war by increasing US force levels there; the air strikes in Syria; and the death and destruction in Libya that included the wanton bombing of the hugely expensive system to transport water from the south to the capital, Tripoli.
It has been calamitous for these countries. They have suffered millions of dead and wounded, many, many more millions displaced, and a refugee problem that is straining EU ties and its policy of open borders. Economic migrants from Africa used to come to a previously prosperous Libya, work a while, then return home. With Libyan opportunities gone, they continue on to Europe from where it is difficult to return home, so they stay becoming permanent immigrants.
In fact, if we examine Europe’s refugee problem, a good portion of the blame rests with US wars. The migrants are from Afghanistan and its spillover in Pakistan; they come from Iraq, from Somalia, from Syria, from Libya, and from adjoining countries.
How much of all this included Joe Biden? Over 30 years practically everything, particularly for someone who proudly proclaims himself a ‘patriot’ … read support for every war. Yet during the Vietnam war he received student draft deferments, then asked to be reclassified because of asthma when he was a teen.
Accused of plagiarism in law school, he claimed he was confused about the rules for citation. He was given an F, and had to retake the course — the F later expunged from his transcript. He was also caught lifting phrases from others in his speeches causing him to drop out of the 1988 presidential nomination race. Trouble is Biden’s plagiarism was carefully contrived to build an early personal history of struggle (“The Write Stuff”, Slate, August 25, 2008). It is worth a re-read for it indicates a habit of mind that is lacking in ethics, perhaps just the kind corporate elites would prefer in the White House.
Poor Bernie. What chance does he have against the choice of corporate bulldozers and their associated media, the latter now painting him a Russian agent? As propagandists maintain, the more ridiculous the story, the more believable it is in the public marketplace.
Before the current crop of Buttigiegs and the if-he-can-run-so-can-I types and, of course, Bernie and Warren splitting the progressive vote, Joe Biden had never won a presidential primary despite many, many attempts. South Carolina was the first, and now he has topped that with nine more on Super Tuesday. With Warren dropping out, the question is, will she do the right thing and throw her support behind Bernie, a fellow progressive, or is she too fearful of the wrath of party elites, and will fall in line endorsing Biden. Her delay indicates the issue is troubling her. Biden does have an overlooked factor in his favor. He was born in Pennsylvania, a key state Trump won by a razor thin margin.
One cause of unease is likely to be Biden’s cognitive faculty. He often seems unable to complete sentences and quotes, or to remember the obvious, even changing Super Tuesday into a ‘Super Thursday’ for example. Sadly, the consequences of dementia now and again intrude. Of course, not many actually hear him speak or watch debates.
So what lies ahead? Looks like we have to hunker down … prepare ourselves for four more years of Trump. But then, miracles can happen …
Author’s Note: An earlier version of this article appeared on Counterpunch.org