As Joe Biden prepares to deliver his first quasi-State of the Union address this evening, we fast approach the famed initial benchmark of a new presidency established by his fellow Democrat FDR — the first 100 days. So, how to describe what we have seen so far of this 46th president?
Well, there is a familiar expression in popular culture relating to a person who serves as a hardscrabble deal-closer for his boss. It was first used to describe a traveling salesman peddling someone else’s product, though now it often evokes someone looking to collect money or favors for an organized crime operation. But there are also political versions of the same — people who do not make decisions but perform the bidding of those who do.
It’s called a bagman. And given what we have witnessed over these first weeks of the Biden presidency, we have good reason to believe this is exactly what we elected. In fact, going one step further, and examining the initiatives of the early days of his administration, it would hardly be hyperbole to describe the entire process of Biden’s nomination and election as little more than yet another old-time expression: bait and switch.
I mean, did Biden ever decry America as systemically racist in the 47 years of his political career before 2020? Did he ever previously describe it as a “stain on the soul” of the country? Was he not always opposed to packing the Supreme Court prior to this year? Did he not speak publicly against ending the Senate filibuster at every opportunity until now? Did he not deny (after saying the opposite on many previous occasions) that he would attempt to impose a green energy agenda on an unwitting public? And did he not promise a safer, more humane border before reversing Donald Trump’s border policies just for the sake of reversing them?
But the bottom-line question is: Did not the Democratic Party clear the field to hand Biden the nomination specifically because he was viewed by voters as reliably moderate? Does what we are seeing and hearing out of this White House even remotely resemble the Biden of 1973, 1988, 2008, or 2016 — or even the 2020 campaign? This chief executive has pulled off the oldest political parlor trick in the book, one designed strictly to deceive and confound the voters: run as a centrist, govern as a leftist. But, in Biden’s case, he is serving as the repository for radical notions that transgress the essentials of this constitutional republic, ideas far to the left of those that have animated his almost half-century in the Swamp.
Indeed, there is little doubt that Biden is delivering the goods for some committee or collection of hard leftists who failed to launch a successful candidacy of their own and thus turned to Biden as the harmless public face for all their most radical ideas. And he has oh-so-dutifully complied with their demands, no doubt as part of an implicit agreement: They would reluctantly get behind his candidacy (who else was there?) and do everything in their power to take Trump down. Biden in turn would remain silent as their most radical elements set the nation ablaze over last summer, and, upon reaching the promised land on Pennsylvania Avenue, he would serve as their bagman.
If your own eyes don’t provide sufficient proof of this entente between a decades-long career politician and the shadowy forces controlling his presidency, consider a recent revealing episode that fully unmasked the truth of what happens when Biden attempts to think for himself. Desperate to control a border crisis that threatens his presidency, he decided to reverse course and restore the Trump-era limits on entry — and was swiftly rebuked by whatever leftists command his agenda. So he promptly reversed his decision — again. The powers behind the curtain can’t have this guy thinking he got some sort of mandate to do as he pleases, as if voters viewed him as anything more than Not Trump.
Biden will undoubtedly project to a nationwide prime-time audience the ongoing themes ordered by his masters: systemic racism, climate-change catastrophe, judicial “reform,” and all the rest. And, true to his first 100 days, he will dress it up with a pleasant bow for popular consumption. Biden may believe he is sitting pretty as the pandemic-weary nation returns to its feet. In fact, he may even get plucky enough to try making another decision that is not simply a knee-jerk reversal of something Trump did. But, rest assured, if he steps out of line again and refuses to obey orders from his shadowy commanding officers, they will soon teach him afresh that, absent his obedience, the success of his presidency is hardly in the bag.
Read more from Tim Donner.