Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Nathan Robinson Makes the Case Against Biden

It was not a good night for Nathan Robinson. The editor of an website called Current Affairs and a columnist for The Guardian, Robinson wholeheartedly supports the Bernie Sanders candidacy.

This means, for those of you who search for deep meanings, that Robinson is a young man. He holds a law degree from Yale and a Ph.D. from Harvard. That means: Robinson is very, very smart. His analysis proves the point. We forgive him his youthful enthusiasm for socialism, because he writes well and thinks clearly. We can only hope that he outgrows his leftism.

Anyway, Robinson has been making the case against Joe Biden for quite a while now. So why not examine his arguments, at a time when the Democratic political establishment has gone all in for Senile Joe.

Supporters of Joe Biden are unlikely to be persuaded by most of the common criticisms. They know he can be rambling and unintelligible. They know his record is unimpressive and that he doesn’t really have “policy proposals”. None of this matters, though, because to them he has the most important quality of all: he can beat Donald Trump. Nothing you can say about the former vice-president’s record, platform or mental state matters next to the argument that he is the best hope Democrats have of getting Trump out of office.

There’s just one problem: it’s a myth. It is a myth just as it was a myth that Hillary Clinton was a good candidate against Trump. Biden is not, in fact, the pragmatic choice. He would not beat Trump. He would lose. And we must say this over and over again. Forget his flubs. Forget his finger-nibbling. Biden would be crushed by Trump. If you want Trump out of office, don’t support Biden.

By logical deduction, if you do not want Trump out of office, you should support Biden. Robinson sets down the Biden record on the Ukraine:

Let us recall: Hunter Biden was paid up to $50,000 a month by a Ukrainian oil company. Officially, the chief Ukrainian prosecutor had an open investigation into that company. Joe Biden bragged about pressuring Ukraine to fire that prosecutor, which they did. 

Hunter Biden says he told his father about his position in Ukraine, and Joe Biden did not ask him to step down. Joe Biden contradicts his son’s story, saying they never discussed Hunter Biden’s “work” in Ukraine. One of them is not telling the truth.

Defenders of the Bidens like to point out that the prosecutor was fired for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with Hunter Biden. In fact, there was widespread pressure to fire the prosecutor because he wasn’t doing enough on corruption investigations, and there was a consensus among experts that this was the case. Biden’s actions had absolutely nothing to do with his son and it is ridiculous to suggest that they did.

All this is true. But the important question is: does it sound good? And the answer is: no. It sounds terrible.

Legalistic Democrats do not understand optics. They believe that they can cherry pick facts in order to make their man look more honest. One remarks that not all facts are equally relevant. Polemicists who promote narratives can often find a few facts that appear to support their arguments, but their love of facts tends to be very selective.

Robinson concludes:

Left-leaning journalists and pundits love to “fact-check” Trump, as if proving that he has lied is in itself persuasive. But 2016 should have showed us how powerless “debunking” is next to “optics”. If you have a Democratic candidate who looks really corrupt, it doesn’t matter if they’re not. People don’t trust the press and they don’t trust politicians.

His slogan is “no malarkey”, but since Biden himself is a longtime spewer of malarkey, Trump will successfully paint Biden as a hypocrite. Biden’s central case is that he is “not Trump”, that he will return the country to virtuousness and decency. But if Biden doesn’t actually look virtuous and decent – because he isn’t – the argument that he has made for himself collapses completely.

Robinson also sees that Trump’s support is as deep as it is real:

Look at the enthusiasm Trump gets at his rallies. It is real. Trump has fans, and they’re highly motivated. How motivated are Biden’s “fans”? Is Biden going to fill stadiums? Are people going to crisscross the country knocking on doors for him? Say what you want about Clinton, but there were some truly committed Clinton fans, and she had a powerful base of support. By comparison, Biden looks weak, and Trump is savagely effective at preying on and destroying establishment politicians.

He predicts:

Complicated factchecks that attempt to explain the nuances of the Ukrainian criminal prosecution system will not help Biden. People’s already limited enthusiasm for Biden will further wane, and Trump will point to his “strong economy” and “job creation” as evidence Obama and Biden were weak failures. Biden will look tired and irrelevant, and possibly forget why he is even running in the first place. Trump will be re-elected comfortably.

In a more recent article, from Current Affairs, Robinson expands his thinking. First, about the Democratic Party establishment. He believes that they do not understand Trump:

The Democratic party “establishment,” meaning the people who have been in leadership positions in the party, does not actually understand Trump. They do not see why his message is appealing. They don’t understand how talented he is. They think he is stupid. They don’t know why he thrives, and they don’t understand why they’re failing to effectively oppose him. When his approval rating rises, it mystifies them. When nobody comes to their rallies, they don’t know why. They didn’t get what was going on in 2016, when their own message was totally out-of-touch with ordinary people’s concerns. They will not admit that his State of The Union address was terrifyingly effective. They think that by pointing out that Trump is a liar and a cad, they can hurt him.

And, of course, he emphasizes Biden’s ineptitude:

Even in a concerningly out-of-touch and inept party, Joe Biden stands out as uniquely out of touch and inept. It’s not just that he seems mentally not-that-with-it, but that he fundamentally can’t organize people. He certainly can’t inspire them. In fact, Biden’s political instincts are atrocious: he constantly told Iowa voters to “go vote for someone else,” and 85% of them did. He tells millennials he has “no empathy” for them. He promises no change. He is a serial liar who fabricates absurd details about his life story, like fictitious arrests and a history of civil rights activism.

What is going to happen?

Biden will have no clear message, no strategy. He will perform embarrassingly in debates with Trump, forgetting his words and seeming to wonder why he is even on the stage. (He will also have no good explanation for what his son Hunter was doing for that Ukranian gas company, which will be the subject of constant discussion.) Trump, being a bully, will seize his advantage and relentlessly mock Biden’s performance. Trump will (as he has before) talk a lot about how Sanders was “robbed” by a “rigged” primary, delegitimize Biden’s nomination, and stoke the intra-party conflict. Biden will look dazed and confused on Election Night, as Democrats wonder yet again how they managed to lose to Donald Trump of all people.

Have a nice day.


Sam L. said...

Thanks, Stuart, for that bracing and energizing blast of encouragement!

Wootah said...

But he will have Hilary as VP. And then a heart attack.