Say It Ain’t So, Joe!
In 1921, eight members of the Chicago White Sox were permanently banned from baseball for their role in a plot to throw the 1919 World Series, a disgraceful moment in sports known as The Black Sox Scandal. As the apocryphal story goes, directly after testifying in the criminal trial, the great Shoeless Joe Jackson was confronted by a heartbroken little boy. “Say it ain’t so, Joe!,” cried the little urchin. “Yes, kid, I’m afraid it is,” replied Jackson, before disappearing like his movie ghost in Field of Dreams.
Today, I’m feeling a bit like that urchin, looking up at former Vice President Joe Biden. “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”
The Death of Decent
The other day, during a speech — in fact, a speech where he was ripping President Trump — Biden described his successor Mike Pence as a “decent” man. It was a throwaway line. A typical Joe Biden-ism, tossing in a personal compliment. He’s known Pence for years. Likes him. Judges him to be a decent guy. So he tosses it in. That’s just the way Joe rolls. In fact, that’s the way politics used to roll. You saw people across the aisle as people, honorable people who just saw political issues differently.
But that was then. Joe Biden, for the simple act of describing Mike Pence as “decent,” felt the Robespierre rage of the New Left. Actress-Turned-Bitter Gay Activist Cynthia Nixon led the charge of the Twitter hordes. Elizabeth Warren — 1/1024th Native American and the rest ruthless ambition — also attacked Biden, insisting Pence is in no way decent.
The message was clear.
“How DARE Biden call Pence ‘decent’? How DARE Biden show any warmth and affection for ANYBODY who believes in traditional marriage? Anyone who is not 110% percent in line with the radical agenda!” (And make no mistake, peasantry, you have to be 110% on board. It’s not enough to be 100% on board. Just ask Martina Navratilova, now facing exile from the LGBT community for not wanting male T’s to compete against females. Martina Navratilova!)
But what did Biden do in the face of the onslaught? Mr. Nice Guy, who’s spent decades earning a reputation of genuine bipartisan friendship? Mr. Tough Guy who boasted he’d take the current President out back and beat him up?
He ran. He backpedaled faster than a cornerback at the NFL Combine. He caved quicker than New Year’s Eve diet resolution. He bowed down faster than a servant at Downton Abby. Uncle Joe said “Uncle.”
No, said Biden, Pence wasn’t decent after all.
You’re right, Cynthia. I was making a point in a foreign policy context, that under normal circumstances a Vice President wouldn’t be given a silent reaction on the world stage.
But there is nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights, and that includes the Vice President.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 28, 2019
Note he doesn’t say “the political position of the Vice President.”
Say it ain’t so, Joe!
Which Is Scarier
Which is scarier, that a man who wants to be Commander-in-Chief was so easily intimated and cowered? Or that a man who for decades expressed genuine affection for his political opponents would now toss away that reputation out of political expediency?
Either choice disqualifies Biden for the White House. If a few tweets can cause him to cave, what would a few threats from an angry foreign leader do? Are we supposed to think an actress from Sex in the City is more intimidating than the mullahs in Iran, or the strongman in Moscow?
If Biden would trash someone he personally knows as decent simply to be popular, how do we know he won’t trash America to keep popular on the world stage? (His former boss Obama did it all the time. And the speech where he complimented Pence included riffing on how we’re now pushing away from our allies.) What friend of America would he toss under the bus if a country he wants to curry favor with asks?
Sure. Uncle Joe is his own species of political animal. In 2012 he said Republicans wanted to put blacks back in chains. (He said this in Virginia, where the current Democratic governor remains in office despite running around in blackface and KKK hoods.) In political campaigns he trash talks as well as any NBA player. Until the whistle blows.
Biden’s never really acted like someone who felt malice toward people just because they had an R by their name. I mean, just last August, he wept like a baby eulogizing Republican John McCain. In fact, Biden’s never been one to traffic in malice. Think of his greatest goofs over the years. The remark about Indians at 7-11s. Asking a paralyzed man to stand up. Obama being clean. At their core was this sense, “I like this person or group of people I’m talking about.”
Heck, a couple weeks back he was preaching the importance of respect in political discourse, admitting his affection for those of different political stripes. He even joked that this made him a “sinner” in these partisan times. No one’s joking now. Now that he’s apparently set on running for the nomination of this new fanged Democratic Party, the old dog quickly learned he has to learn a new trick.
Well, actually, it’s an old trick. A familiar trick to anyone whose ever seen a friend turn on them just to score with the cool kids. Or a trick from even further into the past, “Hate thy enemy.”
Joe Biden had a chance to stand for decency. Instead he has bowed before an enemy that poses a great threat than any foreign adversary. Hatred and intolerance toward any who disagree with the progressive purity police. He caved to the mob.
Joe Biden. Ol’ Uncle Joe. You need a new nickname. A nickname that echos the shock of how quickly you betrayed the political game you’ve served your entire public life. The game that gave you fame. A game you played well enough to spend eight years in the number two spot.
Shameless Joe Biden. May your presidential aspirations now disappear like Shoeless Joe in the Iowa cornfields.
Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream and co-author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. You can follow him at @StreamingAl.