Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bye Bye Biden

Image via The Daily Bash.
I found myself really conflicted about Biden, for reasons I could hardly even explain to myself, because they were pretty compound, if not really complex.

There was the on-the-one-hand human angle of why should a 73-year-old-man who's just lost his son have to put up with this kind of life, of campaigning and begging for money and telling lies up and down the country, and the on-the-other-hand human angle of remembering the awful story told by George Packer of Biden and his staffer Jeff Connaughton, in which it turns out that that Sweet Joey personality is something that can be turned off pretty easily, in favor of an alternative personality that's honestly not necessarily very nice.

Then there's the foreign affairs question where it seems to me clear that Biden knows more and understands better than anybody in the way of being a candidate, which seems bizarre on its face, given that the leading candidate actually served as Secretary of State for four years not long ago. But there's a reason why Biden got the Iraq portfolio. Is Hillary a hawk and Biden a person of peace? I don't think one can trust them by their utterances, but I have been very disturbed in this last week or two by a couple of things. First by the thing Clinton said in the debate:
Cooper said to the debaters, "You've all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of?"
Hillary Clinton: Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians. Probably the Republicans.
She hasn't noticed that President Obama has been working to put together some kind of different relationship with Iran, possibly the most important foreign-policy accomplishment of the presidency, for which being proud to be an enemy might not be the best way of expressing how we feel? or that there's more than one Iranian point of view, in Iran?

And then this no-fly zone idiocy, making Clinton look as stupid as her friend Senator McCain? Because there isn't enough murderous stupidity in Syria yet? Do they feel there's some kind of quota that isn't being met? Or a Guinness Book record to set? Times notes:
Luke Coffey, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said: “It makes for a nice tweet, it sounds good, it sounds like a policy idea. But when you get down into the details, you see why it’s not really going to work.”

Karl P. Mueller, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, said that the Russian air campaign “changes things significantly,” and that “initiating armed combat with the Russian Air Force is a very big thing.”

“In the past, when there’s been talk about no-fly zones, usually what people have meant is we’re going to force the Syrian Air Force to stay on the ground,” [which might have been a good idea had it had any hope of working, which it didn't,] he said. “With the Russians in the country, that gets significantly more complicated, because now you’re talking about grounding or shooting down Russian aircraft, or intimidating them into not flying, or not attacking certain targets in certain areas.”
My only thought is that Clinton knows it's idiotic and is suggesting it only with the understanding that she has no power to make it so. That, like suspicions over her sudden adoption of a hostility to the Trans-Pacific Partnership in which I can't believe she really believes, makes her seem less stupid, but at the same more dishonest than I wanted to think of her as being. I'm really a little disheartened. I've been fighting the dishonest-Hillary meme for months, and she's not helping. I'm sure I'll be back on board by nomination time, but it may not be easy.

Meanwhile, it's just a terrible idea for the US to be messing around in the Syria situation in any way more aggressive than what the Obama administration is already doing (doing more to improve the lot of the refugees is another matter), but none of the presidential candidates is saying this in an effective way: Paul for the Republicans is featherheaded, O'Malley and Chafee are weak-voiced, and the most important opponent of over-militarizing, Sanders, sounds as if he's responding more or less automatically: it's not clear how he understands the situation, or even how much he knows about it. The most valuable thing Biden could have done as a candidate would have been to come out and explain it, in a way the public could understand.

Update: Last paragraph rewritten in the morning. Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names (where you can see the original text in Comments).


Ken_L said...

The no-fly zone proposal is utter lunacy, and suggests that unfortunately, she's learnt nothing useful from the last 12 years of American blundering in the Middle East. It's typical of the mindless "America must do something to take the lead" school, regardless of the fact that no important American interests are at stake and the measures being proposed will probably have all sorts of unanticipated consequences, none of them good.

I was hoping against hope that Biden would get in and win the nomination. Now we can only hope that Sanders develops a more aggressive, rational approach to foreign policy that induces Hillary to become less reflexively hawkish.

Unknown said...

I've worked with people like HRC. To me her public face & behavior derives from a need to be well-thought-of, to SEEM to 'lead', to say stuff that's diplomatic or fits multiple agendas, while aiming primarily at seeming immediately non-offensive, popular & unifying. It's not female behavior: it's gender-neutral.
We imagine it more common among women leaders - in the professions, education, business or politics - as a) women in those roles stand out, & b) there's a host of behaviors are more typically male & that never or rarely arise with women, but get more tolerated in men due to sheer numbers.

That narrows the range of neuroses & psychoses we tolerate exhibited in women leaders - even as the wider range of thinking & behavioral patterns among men are more objectively unacceptable &, I believe, more dangerous.

IMO there's a tendency for those drawn to high management to present, not just in public but in daily dealings short of very private, more or less like Peter Sellar's caricature of President Merkin Muffley in Dr. Strangelove. Mostly the exceptions to this mask are effectively reserved to men, and, conversely, either actually denied to women or there's a mutual expectation of women in power that they won't act as if they've got big swinging dicks.

In a country big as this, you'd think we could avoid trusting to Muffley's as a relatively 'safe' leader style; but with POTUS', for a variety of reasons, we often find we can't do better, & they seem less likely to cause serious harm. From 1948:
1. Arguable male Muffleys:
- Truman, Ike, Ford, Carter, Bush the elder, Clinton the male, Obama; total: 38/68 years.
2. More easily arguable not Muffleys:
- JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Bush the younger; 30/68 years.
The problem is, the hole we're dug into under the 44% when we have a big swinging dick as president takes up a huge chunk of the resources of the next Muffley, and not all the mess gets cleaned up.

I prefer our chances in having two consecutive Muffleys better than letting another disordered big swinging dick come in and undo most if not all progress we've made since 2008.

Sweet Sue said...

Biden brought nothing to the table; I'm glad that he's gone.