Back in the 70’s, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) we watched An American Family self destruct including the outing of the eldest son (Lance Loud) as the first openly gay person to appear on television. It is now recognized as the first “reality television show” which ushered in a never ending stream of “window peaking” into the lives of others. I never watched An American Family nor the subsequent renditions. And more importantly I’ve never understood America’s fascination with the concept or the shows. (Of course the latest version is the wall-to-wall coverage of Hollywood celebrities Johnny Depp and Amber Heard – two of the most vacuous and self-absorbed humans to have ever soiled American television.)
My best guess is that reality television is simply the electronic means of gossiping. The reasons for doing so still escapes me. Pop psychology suggests that we live such dull and droll lives that we are fascinated to find that the rich and famous suffer the same challenges and character flaws as the rest of us – only with a lot more money and publicists to spin their most hedonistic and sybaritic indulgences. That could be true but I doubt it.
But there is more to it than that. What is it that causes us to become riveted to the undoing of a person. We were glued to the televisions to watch the pain of President John F. Kennedy’s family in the aftermath of his assassination. We were riveted once again as Watergate unfolded and we watched the dismantling of the presidency of Richard M. Nixon and his banishment to California. And again as the allegations mounted against President Donald Trump only to be disappointed to learn that it was all fake as were the talking heads of the mainstream media that promised us drama and gave just a bunch of gasbags. On a smaller level we have watched the undoing of Jeffrey Epstein, the trial of his consort Ghislaine Maxwell, and the public humiliation of attorney Michael Avenatti. All of the them were the spectacles of widely known people being dismantled. I speculate that if they sold tickets to public executions there would be a waiting list to witness the ultimate undoing. We could not look away as the Twin Towers collapsed killing over 3,000 people in the aftermath of the Islamic extremist attack on September 11, 2001. Even today we pause nightly to witness the destruction of Ukraine by Russia’s premier thug and war criminal, Vladimir Putin – including the collapsed buildings and the dead littering the streets.
I’ll probably never understand the psychology of this and I can be as guilty as any of you in watching. Which brings us to President Joe Biden. I’ve never been a fan of Mr. Biden’s and always put him in that category of Washington politicians who are dumb as a bag of hammers and as phony as a cheap toupee. In previous columns have documented a lifetime of gaffes, plagiarisms, lies, mistakes, and ineptitude by Mr. Biden that justify my opinion of him. For the longest time I have criticized those who have characterized Mr. Biden as aging with a corresponding diminution of his cognitive skills. My response has always been that Mr. Biden has been stupid his whole life and there is nothing of recent vintage that can differentiate his past behavior from his current fumblings. In a recent column I acknowledge that I may have misjudged the increasingly erratic behavior.
And then I watched two different video clips that occurred over the last two weeks that lead me to lean towards melancholy rather than disdain for Mr. Biden. The first was the widely circulated clip showing Mr. Biden being removed from talking with children by an aide dressed as an Easter bunny. The bewilderment on Mr. Biden’s face told it all. And the fact that the White House staff was so worried about what Mr. Biden might say that they needed to lead him away is outrageous.
But it was the video of Mr. Biden completing remarks at an event that included former President Barack Obama that confirmed Mr. Biden’s status as the senile uncle you try to ignore. To get the full effect you should watch the video clip from You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGRxVITBGOA. (To view this video press Control and click.) Don’t turn away; it uncomfortable to see the President of the United States ignored by everyone in the room, including his vice-president, Kalamata Harris, and his guest Mr. Obama. It is even worse when Mr. Biden puts his hand on Mr. Obama’s shoulder to get his attention only to be completely ignored by Mr. Obama as he glad hands everyone else. (The secondary effect of this video is to confirm the arrogance and rudeness of Mr. Obama who has repeatedly demeaned others by both speech and action so as to ensure that all eyes are on him – what a jerk.)
Mr. Biden – lost in his own White House, ignored at his own gathering, and upstaged by his former boss and his current vice-president. That is bad enough but look closely at his face and know that you have seen that look before among those suffering dementia and cognitive decline. You cannot view these videos without some degree of compassion towards Mr. Biden.
The political establishment, the elites of Washington, D.C., the “best and brightest” we have sent to serve us in the government have a problem. Mr. Biden cannot continue much longer as the President of the United States. His decline is visible domestically and internationally. If Mr. Biden will not leave honorably, then the Twenty-fifth Amendment provides the avenue for removing him. It has to be a bipartisan effort simply because of the super majority requirements. The great problem – and the one that virtually everyone acknowledges – is that standing in the way of the removal of Mr. Biden is the reality that Ms. Harris, as constitutionally required, will succeed him upon both his suspension and his removal.
Like my view of Mr. Biden, I may have been mistaken about my view of Ms. Harris. I have stated that Ms. Harris is the most purposefully ignorant person to hold high office in the history of the United States. She simply refuses to do the work to learn the issues and the possible solutions. However, it is growing more evident that Ms. Harris reluctance to learn the issues may be more based on intelligence than on laziness. In other words it is entirely possible that Ms. Harris may be too stupid to learn. Regardless, the general consensuses is that it is better to have a cognitively impaired Mr. Biden, guided by his highly politicized staff, than accept the transfer of the awesome power of the presidency to someone so grossly incompetent as Ms. Harris.
For those politicians who care more for the nation than for their re-election (Republican and Democrat alike) there should be a bi-partisan effort to remove Ms. Harris from her office whether by impeachment, by incentive (more money, more visibility, less work outside of government) or elsewise coupled with an agreement as to her successor – a person qualified to be president almost immediately. Thereafter, the removal of Mr. Biden can be swift and compassionate.
For my part I resolve to criticize the policies of Mr. Biden without criticizing a man in decline.