• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Joe Biden: A Man

April 2019

Consistent with the criteria set forth by the progressive left, it seems as though Joe Biden has done everything right. In seeking its approval in anticipation of his presidential run, Biden has made a concerted effort to hit all the “woke” notes—sounds spanning a frighteningly cacophonous and mangled treble clef. Discordant though they may be (especially in the ears of average Americans living in states of relative political harmony between the coasts) these are the newfangled sounds to which the Democratic Party has been tuned. Instrument in hand, Biden has hopped on stage. He’s since found his key and is strumming right along.

On cue, he lamented the disparate opportunities and outcomes of various ethnic groups. To these oppressed minorities, at risk of being put “back in chains” by such crypto-racist Republicans as Mitt Romney (as in 2012 he forebodingly warned they might be), he vowed to soothe old wounds with the salve of the public dole. To his merit, he’s not come out in support of reparations—an economically unfeasible and morally dubious concept.

On top of that, he’s shown sympathy, if not whole-hearted support, for the Green New Deal. As long on audacity as it is short on sobriety, the radical proposal was brought to the Senate for a vote. There, yearning to be endorsed with the candor it’s peremptorily demanded, the Green New Deal was defeated with a swift blow. Better said, it failed unanimously and unilaterally after every Democrat voted him or herself absent. More moderate in his approach, Biden knows better than to promote openly so impracticable an idea. At the same time, he knows better than to trample on the environmentalist’s Edenic, carbon-free dream. On the matter of healthcare, much is the same. Hesitant fully to extricate himself from his old pal Obama’s eponymous, moribund bill, Biden has admitted that vast improvements are required of this consummate piece of legislation, this legacy of the towering man for whom he worked over eight years.

It seems, then, that in most every way, Biden is at least outwardly aligned with the progressive bien pensant. He’s not on the fringe with Bernie Sanders—defending bread lines and Sandinistas—nor on the hip of Hillary Clinton—staunchly neo-liberal and therefore loathsome. Yet the one topic on which he’ll never be able to speak correctly is that of his sex.

If you’re a man, to speak disparagingly of your masculinity is what you must do. It’s debasing, but it’s true; there is no other way to ingratiate yourself to an increasingly “anti-patriarchal” society. It’s the only path open to a man who needs to build a constituency. So much is the case for all private business and intercourse in which you might find yourself engaged, but much more is it so for the man situated in the public eye. As such, it’s become the approach that all men endeavoring toward public office must adopt. A government salary and high stature depend on it. If they’re hoping to reach their aims, these men must fulsomely deprecate themselves. Biden, wanting very much to capture and claim the presidency (a frustratingly elusive task as it’s proven over the course of years), is doing just that.

Embarking upon an apology tour for the mere accident of his birth, Biden began by blaming injustices both ancient and modern on the sex of which he’s so shamefacedly a part. With an emotion existing somewhere between rehearsed pathos and legitimate remorse, Biden spoke about the Anita Hill controversy that took place some twenty years ago. Much to his present chagrin, Biden was the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversaw the case. This diminishingly august body over which he presided was and of course remains to be responsible for the confirmation or denial of the president’s Supreme Court nominees.

The moment of “MeToo” wasn’t yet conceived, but in the very public case against Clarence Thomas, social media pressure, I’m sure, would’ve proven itself unavailing. Hill’s evidence against Thomas for the crime of sexual assault simply didn’t meet, much less exceed the increasingly low threshold of reasonable doubt. Now an admittedly low hurdle to clear, back then not all women were blindly to be believed as they are now. The question of our newfound ecumenical credulity when it comes to a woman’s tale is indeed a controversial topic best saved for another day. Suffice it to say that the issue of “believe all women” wasn’t then what it would become today. Biden was operating in a different cultural and political milieu—one in which the presumption of innocence still lay with the accused. As disinterested and legally astute a senator as he on occasion proved to be, Biden understood this fully and did his job. He could not, at least in good faith, hamper Thomas’ nomination on so flimsy a claim.

As he’s made clear, Biden is downright penitent for this grave and unforgivable error of his past. Time and gain, he’s apologized for what we’d today call his chauvinistic callousness and the pervious laxity with which he let Hill’s testimony go. Not only was Thomas not prosecuted as a prurient scoundrel, but he was elevated to sit amongst the most venerated and influential legal minds in the land. More than anything, though, Biden is regretful today for having dared to be so judicious way back then. His actions back then have proven today a legitimate political liability.

He also repents for the draconian, misogynistic, and benighted institution from which the entire world has benefitted for the last thousand years: Anglo-American law. Of course, the “American” half of that tandem isn’t nearly as old as the “Anglican” that precedes it, but both imply the same thing: a jurisprudential system created by white men and for the exclusive and perennial benefit of white men. Inherently chauvinistic (if the term is to be understood in its recently corrupted way), Biden made the case last week for extracting from our roots the very idea of Anglo-American law. As a compelling reason to do so, he brought to light the etymological origin of the phrase “rule of thumb”.

The supposedly odious meaning behind the phrase is that a man intent on beating his wife was prohibited by law from doing so with a stick whose width was wider than that of his thumb. On its face, this etymological explanation strikes me as odd. Thumbs aren’t usually known for their restraining effects on man; indeed, it’s their opposition that makes us so dexterous a species and so great an ape. Yet here the thumb would serve as a chastening device, one preventing a man’s weapon from exceeding his finger.

While Biden used this phrase to expose the intrinsic inequities of Anglo-American law and, by extension, Anglo-American men (with, one might add, great evocative effect; the solemnity of his delivery always proves strong), it’s not at all clear if there’s any truth to its origin. His insinuation is that it’s validly etymological. Others hold, with just as much evidence, that it’s merely apocryphal. Either way, it really does little to diminish the overall merit of Anglo-American law—the gold standard by which all other litigious nations are measured, and the one to which those falling short continually aspire. But the point, ultimately of course, is not a judgment of the intrinsic merits or demerits of the Anglo-American legal system. Rather, it’s a judgment, and a pessimistic one at that, of being a white man.

Verily, to be endowed with the generative organs of a man—or for that matter, a woman—is no ailment of which one should be embarrassed. Sex, so long as its secondary characteristics remain clothed, is not something to hide. We then agree that it’s insalubrious to the utmost, I should think, to classify as inherently sinful that which hangs between one’s legs. Yet again and again, Joe Biden, in an attempt to appeal to a large swathe of possibly disillusioned Liberal women in America, has sought to ingratiate himself by castigating his own sex. Or, rather, I should say by fully castrating his sex.

That said, it’s unavoidably de rigueur to denigrate one’s sex—so long as he’s male. And, with that, it might be noted that age matters not. On the cusp of the eighth decade of his life, Biden is still expected to apologize for being a man. The self-flagellation for not being other than he is will continue until death. But if he wants to win, he’ll do just that, and he’ll do it supinely. That’s the self-hating, male-abasing song he must sing.

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