Flat White

Biden-Harris, Harris-Biden: the epitome of post-truth politics

13 September 2020

1:00 PM

13 September 2020

1:00 PM

The endgame isn’t Donald Trump. With the Democratic Convention coronation complete and campaigning underway, It’s Biden-Harris; America’s Seinfeld ticket, a candidacy about nothing where the artifice overrides substance like a Michelle Obama speech about Black Live Matters hugginess or a mindless Donald Trump Awesomeness tweet. 

We all know the Joe Biden story with its sad mental decline. A serviceable politician and white bread former Vice President permanently in the shadow of a charismatic Barack Obama. A VP who suffers severe political ‘truthiness’ whether being accused of plagiarism, exaggerating his university results, or claiming to be arrested in Soweto when visiting Nelson Mandela. 

Such dishonest obliviousness should kill off any presidential ambitions. But this is Sleepy Joe in the Age of Trumpian Obliviousness. The Great White Hope of the Left (and these days, the white bit matters) or perhaps the last great hope, in defeating the evil Trump. And as reiterated again and again in Milwaukee, for Trump Haters nothing else matters. From their perspective, at least he isn’t the other guy.  

The message is simple: everyone must swallow hard and get behind Joe even though everyone who has seen the confused public appearances knows what everyone else really thinks. The CNN anchors are praising the insights in his speeches and public appearances even while wondering privately if Biden still knows what an insight is. With so many disparate parts, it’s the ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ writ large.  

So how do you solve the Biden problem with its memory lapses and verbal incontinence? You select a running mate who can do your talking for you. Kamala Harris becomes the mouthpiece. She is black, female, media-savvy — the medium is the message — and Biden an afterthought, an electable political Potemkin village, the plywood veneer ready to collapse at any moment but who represents key touchstones of a lost blue-collar constituency with noses still out of joint after Hillary called them Deplorables.  

No doubt the Democratic operatives, Bernie Sanders leftovers and Hillary fangirls are all thinking the same thing: If only we can keep him upright until November. As a political strategy, this has its limitations but don’t worry it will be President Harris soon anyway. 

Biden-Harris is Trump redux. A reflection of what you get after four years of Trump where nothing that you said or did yesterday matters. Riffing off this Trumpian reality, this ticket has no real coherent view other than  ‘Defeat Trump’. This is the American Left’s version of Trump’s equally vacuous 2016 promise to ‘drain the swamp’. It’s a big step down from Bill Clinton’s insightful ‘It’s the economy stupid’ back in 1992 before that all got lost in a blur of stained blue dresses and triangulated hard-ons. 

Harris, like Trump is a Rolodex of disposable ideas and inconsistent moral posturing that fall apart if you bother to engage, like when she visited Jacob Blake in hospital and said she was proud of him – which begs the question, proud of what? Blake may well be the victim of police brutality but he also has a serious criminal history and may have been reaching for a weapon when the police shot. There is no nuance here just political opportunism and Harris, as a former state prosecutor should know better. Trump would be proud.  

So how does Harris feel about being on the same ticket as a presidential candidate who having been accused of sexual assault, she said she believed the accuser? Especially given how outspoken she was during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and the allegations he faced of sexual misconduct and rape?  

As a woman of colour why is she running with someone she accused in the debates of inadvertent racism? A presidential candidate that regularly makes dubious Trump-style remarks like telling a black radio host that if you’re black and vote Trump then you’re not black?  

She explained the racism remarks away recently by laughing it off to a fawning Steve Colbert as being ‘a debate’ and therefore not to be taken seriously. 

Colbert is a satirist who used to challenge political hypocrisy but was too busy hating Trump to ask the obvious follow-up of whether it is ok to label someone a possible racist as part of your throwaway rhetorical flourish and then jump onboard their political ticket. Colbert might have called it a test of integrity but this is Trump World after all. 

On policy issues, Harris is like Trump and his relationship with the Republican Party. She divides her own party that then unites behind her because they want power anyway. She is the black candidate and yet is disliked by many black voters for her time as a tough-on-crime prosecutor. She’s the law and order candidate who gives nodding support to the destructive elements of BLM. 

And then there is the whole duplicity in voting for one thing — Joe Biden — but knowing in a year you will probably be getting something else. 

This is campaigning on a lie but none of this matters. It is the epitome of a post-truth Trump world and the Democrats after the 2016 Hillary debacle are getting smart – they won’t get fooled again.   

A post-truth reality where nothing you say or claim to represent matters is Trump 101. Even if a Biden-Harris ticket defeats Trump, their very success is a victory for politics Trump-style. Rather than refuting Trump World, they will be its validation.  

Michael Scammell is a former US Consulate Media Officer and writes on US politics at his website.

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