September 7, 2023

In Brief: Joe Biden’s ‘Iron Grip’ on His Party

Republicans argued savagely about Trump’s deficiencies. Democrats treat Biden’s with omertà.

We’re cruising toward a 2024 presidential matchup that most Americans don’t want, and it’s because of cult-like devotion to a party leader — just not the one you might be thinking of.

Barton Swaim, editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal, admits that Donald Trump has a very devoted following that baffles his critics on the Left. He notes particularly the “overwhelming support [Trump] receives from evangelical Christians.”

The idea that lust for power explains evangelical support for Mr. Trump is one form of a larger accusation leveled by liberals and progressives against Republicans in the Trump era. Every time a Republican praised the 45th president, it was an indication of the party’s “fealty” or “near-total fealty” or “total fealty” to the president. And every time a Republican candidate took Mr. Trump’s view on a subject, it was an instance of the president’s “grip” or “iron grip” or “death grip” on the GOP.

Trump himself once bragged, and not without reason, that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” So what’s Joe Biden’s deal?

The deficiencies of Mr. Trump are different from those of Mr. Biden, but the latter’s personal culpabilities and political liabilities are what any normal, uninvested person would call grave. Mr. Biden’s cringe-making decline is on display nearly every time he appears in public; examples are too many, and too painful, to describe. His diminished state might be funny in a novel or a movie, but in the real world it’s a continuing invitation to bad actors to engage in devilry and expect no consequence.

And yet with a tiny number of unremarkable exceptions, Democratic politicos say nothing.

The stupendously incompetent pullout from Afghanistan occurred early in Mr. Biden’s term, and the horrors it produced have destroyed any other presidency—a bomb killing 13 Marines; a retaliatory drone strike killing zero terrorists and 10 civilians, including seven children; a White House affecting unconcern for hundreds of Americans trapped inside the country; Afghan citizens pitifully clinging to a departing U.S. military plane, some of them falling to their deaths; former Afghan allies left at the mercies of the Taliban; billions of dollars worth of military equipment abandoned in the field; women and girls forced to drop out of school. Forgive the indecorousness, but it is undeniable that this calamity was a consequence of some combination of senility and incompetence. Yet the number of high-level Democrats who expressed more than vague “worry” and “concern” is somewhere between small and nonexistent.

You might have expected a credible Democrat, maybe a retired military officer, to challenge Mr. Biden in a primary. But no; the party rearranged its traditional primary schedule to begin with South Carolina and so make any primary challenge nearly impossible. I await the stream of articles in the New York Times and Washington Post about Mr. Biden’s “iron grip” on his party.

Swaim notes the elephant in the room — Hunter Biden and the relevant corruption involving Joe Biden — and also that no Leftmedia organization seems to give two hoots. In fact, he concludes:

The leftist journalist Franklin Foer’s book “The Last Politician,” to be published Tuesday, relates some episodes that reflect poorly on President Biden. The passages I’ve been able to glean, however, look mild—mainly a lot of unflattering things said about Mr. Biden, anonymously, by allies and aides. That these rather gentle slights have attracted so much attention isn’t a measure of their severity. They remind us, rather, that for 2½ years no one on Mr. Biden’s side has dared to say anything disparaging of him.

Now that’s what I call fealty.

Wall Street Journal subscribers can read the whole thing here.

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