• Daniel Ethan Finneran

On The Biden Conundrum

May 2020

One’s past vices, though past, are seldom inescapable. We learn, rather, that they’re devilishly devoted beasts, monsters purely of our own making from which we can’t easily run away. They are, in more ways than one, persistent entanglements of which we can’t be unburdened, strongly-tied cords of whose knots we’re never completely free. Once cultivated in youth and given their range, they’ll not easily forsake us in age.

This includes illimitable age, geriatric age, a dotard’s age, the age at which the quiet octogenarian—in the placidity of his deserved repose—begins languidly to reflect on a life well or improperly lived. This includes the age of Joe Biden—the presumptive presidential nominee behind whom, without the convenient excuse of a paucity of any number of worthy alternatives (among whom, but a few months ago, there were but so many to choose), the Democrat Party seems bewilderingly to have coalesced. The reason for its having done so, with the passage of each monotonous, COVID-ridden week, seems increasingly to beggar explanation. The feebleness of his mind, the sunken infirmity of his mien, the ineloquence of his speech, and the inconsistency of his vacillating political ideas make ever more evident to a disinterested voter that this is not a man in whose future prospects—not only as a viable presidential candidate, but as an independently-functioning and thinking human being—much confidence can be placed.

This is the natural degradation, the unavoidable senescence by which age—despite the efforts of its fiercest combatants in those industries of everlasting wellness and health—is so unwelcomingly attended. As such, it’s not a state of being, a clearly waning state of being, of which Joe Biden should be at all embarrassed. Decrepitude is the state to which, with any luck, we’ll all naturally succumb. A violent, and maybe premature death awaits the rest. It’s the natural consequence of a life long-lived, and none, save an Adonis, an Achilles, or a Dorian Gray, wears upon his face the glow of youth forever. It’s a mask, by whose ephemerality we’re all admittedly frustrated, of which we’ll all soon be deprived.

That doesn’t mean, however, that we should extend to Biden the leniency by which he might dispossess himself of every residuum of shame. Shame is responsible for the marks one wears, the boils and scars that can’t be effaced. His previous vices, now coming to the fore through the distressing story of which Ms. Tara Reade is the newest author, make for a most shameful and unprepossessing sight. It’s a sight, in the full depiction of its contents, at which even the toughest among us will cringe. This is a vice, peculiar to Joe Biden, for which age, despite the largeness of its number, offers but little explanation. Being “old” is no exculpatory defense. This form of sexual predation (and, its concomitant vice, open and unrepentant deceit) has long followed the former Senator throughout the turns and twists of his adult life.

The ugly curiosa of Biden’s sexual past, the arresting details of his inveterate tendency to prey upon the vulnerable women to whom, because of his position, he was always a superior, is not the topic into which, despite its inherent attraction and current popularity, I’d care to delve at this time. I’d rather not linger, if it can be helped, on the lasciviousness of which our male political class appear to be fully enslaved. It is too lamentable and, as I’ve come to think, too incorrigible a state about which to bother one’s weary head.

Rather, I’m more interested in the position in which the Democrat Party, the self-professed defender of women’s rights and warrior for the “Me Too” cause, has found itself so unenviably placed.

This is a party to whom, as we’ve been led to believe, any whiff of sexual impropriety, regardless of its source, is considered absolutely intolerable. This is the party, the paragon of women’s rights, at whose instigation every indecent sexual affront must and will be pursued in a court of law. Failing that, it’ll be brought before the unforgiving eye of the public’s opinion—an often severer and more scrutinizing jury whose preference is the wielding of the sword before the scale. It’s a body, indeed our body, from which accused men or women very rarely escape fully upright and intact.

The Democrat Party has often gone about this task, of which, proudly, it’s made itself so dauntless a champion, with a sort of aloofness to the importance of corroborative truth. Too often, evidence is an impediment by which it’d rather not be bothered, an afterthought of which it reminds itself much later than it should. This approach, mostly wayward, is all wind and all sail, with very little ballast and anchor. It’s moved by the breath of an allegation, the sneeze of sedition. It’s become a group of holy crusaders, a band unburdened of rationality as it looks to pillory every evil-acting man. It’s undismayed and uninterrupted by the speed bumps of sober and secular truths, those well-worn paths on which our legal system treads with careful gait.

It’s become insensitive to the weight of evidence, that essential part of any case without which the justice on which it’s dependent dies a thousand times. It’s unfeeling to the bumpy contours of caution and the law, to the protean curves of verification and the truth, those meddlesome corners on which legitimate justice hinges. It’s much more animated by the dictates of hasty, blind, untested, and unsubstantiated “belief”. It believes all women, condemns all men, and very seldom apologizes if the latter happens, though he be guiltless, to be charged with a possible crime. It’s quite that binary and simple. Such is the conceit of feminine infallibility, the ground in which the “Me Too” maxim roots itself and out of which, with a lengthening shadow, it emerges, sprouts, and grows.

Joe Biden is the rotten fruit of that tree. During the cause célèbre that was the confirmation process of Brett Kavanaugh, upon whom, weeks earlier, the lofty imprimatur of the President was so enthusiastically placed, Biden was unequivocal in his support of all women, in his unconditional belief of all women. He was a vocal champion of Dr. Christine Blassey-Ford, the intrepid woman by whom, albeit without much evidence, Brett Kavanaugh was so notoriously accused. Claiming that the “essence” of a woman’s allegation was to be held as something tantamount to a veritable truth, a reality against which no question might be posed, Biden pushed for an unattainable standard by which he desired others, though perhaps not himself, to live. Yet live by it he must. And, possibly, as we shall see in the coming weeks, die by it as well.

He could, conceivably, arrive at his political death, if not his corporeal end, in one of two ways. He might martyr himself to the cause of “Me Too”, an approach of which the former Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, made such unpunctual use (had he been able to anticipate the sins of which his colleagues would later be accused, he might’ve stayed in his job and weathered the storm; apologies, as you well know, have become shockingly passé and the Democrats, so long as it’s a Democrat, are more than willing to overlook an unsightly affair). Biden could, under the pressure of the public’s response, voluntarily retreat from political life. He’d be seen as a man who scourged himself and leapt into the flames of the hot wrath of “Me Too”. He’d be seen as that unusual person (that figure of which history provides but few examples) for whom, in the difficulty of the moment, a standard isn’t a vacant platitude merely, but an honest way of life. He’d show himself to be a man who’d value, even more than the power and the prestige of the office to which he aspired, the remnants of his tattered honor. He’d be seen as someone held to a higher ideal, an ideal in whose presence a shortcoming, indeed his own shortcoming, wouldn’t be tolerable. His reputation might then be saved, and he’d be lauded as something better than himself, someone better than he deserves.

Alternatively, he could serve in the role of a sacrificial goat, an old beast out of whose political bowels every ounce of nutriment has already been milked. Desiccated and unproductive, lecherous and lewd, Joe Biden hasn’t any longer much to offer the Democrat Party, much less the nation as a whole. He hasn’t much more to give to a party, a sexually-deviant clique, of which he was so long a vital and contributing member.

The Democrat Party, wanting to re-establish what’s left of its deflated moral worth, might forcibly push poor Biden off to the side in pursuit of that goal. This might be the only means by which the party’s fallen scrupulosity can be saved, if it can be saved at all (a proposition of which, given the conduct and short-memory of our age, I’m highly doubtful). The party, for once, would be seen to be taking seriously the maxims of which it’s so breathless a promulgator, and so constant a transgressor (it’s unclear at this time which of the two it does more). It would be seen to be living by the standard that it helped to create. It would be a reclamation of the moral high ground on which, in the absence of all others, it enjoyed an inviolable plot of land and a towering view, an ethereal heaven to which neither centrist nor conservative was ever granted access.

To achieve this, though, it would decisively have to force Biden out; that lofty place is inhospitable to predatory men such as he.

Should either of these two things occur, that of Biden’s voluntary martyrdom or his unwilling removal, the Democrat Party would be free to replace what is, by any measure, an ailing and stumbling candidate with a more healthful and desirable choice. The options among whom, so late in the game, it might choose would be few, but they’d be relatively stronger, and probably more defensible, than the man who’s limping toward the election come this fall. It would have the liberty, compelled by a late summer’s exigency at the DNC Convention in July, to introduce in his stead a person around whom the party, and probably not a few apostate Trump-supporters, might rally with unusual glee.

Or, more than likely, the party will sally forth with what it has—the detestably unrepentant Joe Biden. It’ll close its eyes, cover its ears, and jump again, head first, into the waves of hypocrisy and deceit. Damn the torpedoes, damn the double-standards, and, most importantly, damn the rape allegations by which any lighter vessel would be fatally sunk (Kavanaugh, it appears, was such a vessel). It’ll silence Ms. Reade and point its finger in the direction opposite its own. It’ll accuse the incumbent of crimes of which its own candidate is so credibly guilty.

Such is the nature of the vices of your past; they’ll never let you go, they’ll always drag you down. That which attaches itself to you in youth, will never forsake you in age. Neither, it seems, will the Democrat Party forsake old Joe.

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