Joe Biden’s ABC Town Hall performance provided red meat for his base but potential terror for those who believe in a smaller role for the federal government. While the softball questions were expected, the former VP’s near-constant fallback position of federal mandates may have left viewers wondering about the fate of a free America.
Biden was responsive and on-point for much of the event, avoiding gaffes and mishaps like a well-seasoned pro. However, his vision for a Biden-led United States pointed to a radical agenda wrapped in empathetic sheep’s clothing.
Missing entirely from the event was the biggest news story of the week: Hunter Biden. The explosive issue of emails allegedly sent and received by Joe Biden’s son was mentioned neither by the audience nor host George Stephanopoulos. In fact, it seemed that any directly negative angles were to be verboten.
The COVID Response
The first question set the level of scrutiny that the former VP would be under and is worth examining in detail. He was asked what actions he would have taken that were different to those of President Trump. Surprisingly, Biden said that he would have shut down access from China straight away, specifically for 44 Americans who returned to the U.S. after the president’s travel ban came into force. A noteworthy point here is that Joe Biden, shortly after the travel restrictions were announced, called President Trump xenophobic.
Various fact-checkers have attempted to run cover for Biden on this by suggesting that the contender may not have been aware of the biggest political issue of the day when he made the accusatory comments.
During the same answer, Biden also accused Trump of not following his advice to invoke the Defense Production Act, which he claims he was calling for from the start. The heavy hitters in the fact-checking industry have also been unable to verify this claim. Stephanopoulos entered a mild cross-examination by saying that Biden did not suggest people social distance in January and February – which had nothing to do with the original question nor took Biden to task for his two apparently false claims.
On the question of mandating vaccines if and when they become available, Biden was clear that if he felt it would benefit a certain percentage of the population than he would do so, and then explained how it would be impossible to mandate. He did however suggest that he would speak to all 50 governors, and then if necessary, every mayor, and every councilmember to get them on board. He finished the segment saying that “you don’t have to lockdown if you wear a mask.”
When questioned on “besides ‘you ain’t black’” how would he encourage black participation in society, it seems that Biden was taking a leaf directly from President Trump’s playbook. He suggested that creating wealth was the best way to reach out to minority communities. A bold stance when by every metric available, the last three and a half years have been very good for black Americans economically.
Yet it was in his method to increase black wealth that perhaps the most radical proposition of the night was uttered: “Every three, four, and five-year-old will go to school. School, not day care.” This is a big issue that may take some adjusting to. The idea that children will be better off in terms of future economic outcomes is debatable, but there is ample evidence that taking children out of the home environment at such a young age can have a significant deleterious impact on social development. In fact, a 2002 study in the U.S., showed that children who have play-centered early years do better in most areas emotionally and educationally compared with those who have been “academically directed.”
Biden admitted that the 1994 Crime Bill did, in fact, end up incarcerating a whole lot of black people, but he shifted the blame to what the states did locally rather than accepting that the bill may have been flawed in the first place.
With this being the third question in which the former VP had to refer to the mandatory application of law, one may be starting to sense a theme. Biden admits that making “the same time for the same crime” enforced federally resulted in many more people serving time behind bars, yet seemed to show no awareness that federally mandated early school starts or vaccine rollouts could suffer from a similar set of unintended consequences.
Moving forward with policing, Biden stated that to deal with bad police officers, he would have the federal government go in and make the determination as to whether an officer should be tried. And if so, local prosecutors would be barred from doing so, while an outside prosecutor would be brought in. Quite what ramifications this could lead to remained unaddressed.
The presidential hopeful also said that there would be psychological tests for incoming recruits. He did not elaborate on how likely these tests would be to devolve into ideological purity assessments.
According to Joe Biden, people in the LGBTQ community should be very afraid of a Justice Amy Coney Barrett. He posited that while there is disagreement among constitutional scholars on whether Trump has the right to put forward a nominee, he believes that these confirmation hearings should not be taking place.
However, a somewhat confusing element emerged in this discussion when he was asked by Stephanopoulos if he still agreed with his statements from a year ago that expanding the Supreme Court was a bad idea. The host quoted, “I would not get into court-packing. I would not pack the court.” He then challenged Biden, suggesting the former VP’s recent statements contradict this stance. Biden’s answer was almost Kafkaesque in its process:
“If I had answered the question directly, then all the focus would be on what is Biden going to do if he wins. Instead of on is it appropriate what is going on now. And this is what the president loves to do: Always take our eye off the ball.”
Biden claimed that he was still not a fan of court-packing but that it would depend not on whether Trump wins, but on how the situation is handled. Currently, the nomination is taking place in full accordance with the Constitution, so it is not overtly clear what Biden’s argument here was. To Stephanopoulos’ credit, he did try to push his interviewee on what precisely this meant. Biden responded that if the Senate voted on the nomination before the election, he would consider it, and was finally pushed to say that the voters would know his position before November 3.
As the evening began wrapping up, Biden was asked by a self-identified Republican whether Trump’s foreign policy deserved credit. “A little, but not a whole lot,” responded the candidate. He then went on to pitch the idea that American troops had bounties on their heads in Afghanistan – a position for which not a single intelligence figure has found any evidence – and blame Trump for the political situations in both Hungary and Belarus, two countries in which the administration has had very little involvement. Although in one lighter moment, Biden did suggest that Trump learned “the Art of the Steal” from China’s Xi Jinping.
Joe Biden is a lifelong politician. Despite his apparent cognitive issues, he can handle a Town Hall and even a debate without breaking much of a sweat. His performance was confident and well-received by the press. But the implications that came with his answers have so far been ignored by the Fourth Estate.
Make no mistake, the candidate’s vision for the country relies on federal mandates and a complete restructuring of what it means to be an American. This may please a subsection of voters who have decided that the United States is broken, but for those who value the separation of powers and state independence, it could be an alarming prospect.
Liberty Nation also has an analysis of President Trump’s Town Hall.
Read more from Mark Angelides.