Before we begin, let’s have a moment of silence for poor put-upon Joe. (We don’t offer prayers around here because our leftie friends think they’re excuses for “obfuscation and inaction” and because the Supreme Court muted them in Engel v. Vitale.) The President needs our moral support more than ever as he finds himself in the unenviable position as Chief Ineffectual Executive.
Not that it’s his fault, of course! President Biden entered the presidency after a half-century of public service. When he was first elected senator of that tax shelter with a shore, the UPC didn’t exist. When he became vice-president, the iPhone was still new and Netflix only snail-mailed people DVDs. In all those intervening years, with the collapse of communist empires, wars won and lost in the Middle East, a mini-depression, and the shock White House capture by a billionaire hotelier, something was destined to go wrong for any president c. 2022. The unlucky office holder just happens to be affable Uncle Joe.
Some guys just can’t catch a break. Least of all our earnest president.
That’s the sentiment being pushed by the media, anyway. Poor President Biden was just minding his own business, dutifully running a country excitedly hatching from its pandemic shell, when he was beset with multiple crises. Runaway inflation, thousands of migrants illegally thronging at the southern border, Vladimir Putin trying to greenlight World War Threequel, a looming recession, climbing urban murder rates, and anxious parents selling plasma to fill their Pacifica’s tank to ensure Susie doesn’t miss her guzheng lessons and potential Harvard scouts.
Was this the return to normalcy Biden promised? Maybe he got confused, as he so often does these days, and meant the normal lean times of Jimmy Carter, with endless gas lines and mortgage rates higher than the Marlboro Man’s life insurance.
The economic squeeze is just a massive misfortune, though, most of all for the President. You see, none of it—not one hardship—is Biden’s doing. It’s just a jag of bad luck, is all!
A recent Guardian headline: “Biden entered office facing daunting crises—only to be hit with more crises.” CNN with the same cover line: “Biden looks powerless as crises crest around him.” The Boston Globe dittos the concern: “As crises mount, Biden struggles to show he can solve them.”
Each of these formulations is the same: President Biden is passive, beholden to the events around him, not a responsible man of action, but a victim of circumstance. When asked about the hardest part of being a national leader, Harold MacMillan famously replied: “events, my dear boy, events.” Joe Biden might call it “you know… you know the thing” trying to describe unkind kismet. With fifty years’ experience under his galluses, the presidency was supposed to be an easy topper to Biden’s already well-accomplished career. Now Supreme Court justices face Gavwoke-o Princips outside their homes, we have an ongoing Berlin Airlift op bringing baby formula to our shores, mass shootings occurring daily, and a budding viral disease that our esteemed public-health nabobs can’t decide if masks prevent or not. (They don’t—but thanks Google censors!)
Events, dear non-gender identifying sentient being, events, indeed.
News outlets sloppily making Biden the object of their headline constructions shows not just a lack of a copyeditor, but an existentialist editor as well. Here I thought newsrooms were full of po-mo critics plying oppressive exegesis into daily events. Clearly none of them have committed a casual read of Sartre’s seminal “Existentialism is a Humanism.” The social phobic philosopher trashed the vogue woe-is-me lamenting over oppressive structures and invisible barriers to success. “In life, a man commits himself, draws his own portrait and there is nothing but that portrait,” he wrote in defense of the self-determination principle. The teary-eyed social-justice warriors mewling over unseen prejudice were, to Sartre, full of balderdash. “[T]he coward makes himself cowardly, the hero makes himself heroic; and that there is always a possibility for the coward to give up cowardice and for the hero to stop being a hero.”
I’d recommend the lecture-turned essay to racial destructuralist Nikole Hannah-Jones if she demonstrated any familiarity with literature produced before “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was in theaters. I’d also send it first-class to the West Wing P.O. box if I thought Ron Klain did anything else other than tweet all day. I’d even print off a copy pro-bono to the undergrad complaining they can’t complete a term paper because of “anxiety” and buffet-style dining if I thought he was literate in any language besides TikTokese.
Sartre’s bare-life bootstraps worldview isn’t as all-comprehensive as he thought, but, in a motivational sense, it’s far healthier than the racial-sexual fatalism of the modern left. Existentialism doesn’t brook the Biden Administration’s whining about ineffectualness. Neither would an Economics 101 adjunct professor for that matter.
The most powerful man in the world isn’t powerless in the face of economic hardship. Joe Biden isn’t a 4’ child trying to ride a 5’ minimum roller coaster. Inflation can be minimally tamed by curbing federal spending, which is flooding the economy with newly printed dollars the Federal Reserve uses to buy its bonds. Offshore drilling permission can be permitted and expedited to signal speculators to lower gas prices. Tariffs on foreign-produced baby formula could be scratched off. Border security can be heightened. The Russian Bear need not be poked in the eye.
Public policy isn’t deterministic—it’s a choice. President Biden is choosing to flounder instead of swim because he fears violating the ever-shifting shibboleths of his hardline base. Unfortunately for him, the more you wade in the deep blue, the more likely you are to drown.
The midterms are shaping up to be an elephantine anchor around his and his party’s ungulate ankle. One might even say the Biden presidency is staring directly at an existential crisis.
Sorry, couldn’t resist acting on that one. See how simple convictional courage, no matter how tacky, can be?