No one should be surprised Joe Biden called for unity, with 17 highly offensive, partisan, economically damaging executive orders on his desk. No one is surprised Biden bashed Trump for COVID, then admitted no plan. No one should be surprised Biden is crippling American energy independence, outlawing pipelines, drilling, and fracking after promising jobs. Words are cheap, especially Biden’s.
No one should be surprised Biden pledged to “fire on the spot” White House staff who disrespected others – yet keeps a foul-mouthed staffer who berated a female reporter with profanity, threatened to “destroy” her, if she reported on a conflict of interest. If that story is a “one day wonder,” the bigger story is this: Biden seems to mean nothing he says.
The issue of duplicitous politicians is not new, but extreme forms invite scrutiny – and danger. In short, as wide as the margins are these days for tolerating hypocrisy, Biden pushes the limits. This has real implications, and they go beyond the obvious.
Americans have just been lectured by congressional Democrats to ignore the Constitution’s text, caselaw and history, put aside the iconic pledge of due process and tolerate a legal standard that aims to impeach a president on a free speech standard that would convict half of Congress for “incitement,” and criminalizes citizen free speech.
The spectacle of chasing a former president, was objectively embarrassing. It struck the world as a classic political “show trial,” the sort of “gotcha” politics Americans were supposed to be above, the sort we tell others not to conduct, yet conducted in violation of our Constitution.
During that travesty, now settling, Biden said nothing. Graduating at the bottom of his law class, not practicing for 50 years, he may not remember free speech. But it remains real in law and – to most Americans – in practice, as does the public expectation that words matter.
Moving beyond free speech, here is the issue. If a president repeatedly says he will do something, means something, stands for something, pledges to act in a certain way – and does not do so, and in fact does the opposite from expedience or duplicity, two things happen.
First, the American people begin to see that he is a paper tiger, a man without convictions, someone who – whether you like or hate his promises – does not deliver with fidelity, predictability, or integrity. Many who did not like Trump, saw his resolve to deliver, a commitment to make real what he promised – border wall and military spending to reduced regulation and taxes, record economic growth, wages, and employment to calling out China.
Here is the second implication – and it matters. Anyone who promises and does not deliver, despite being able to, to his own people is a pushover. He is a paper tiger, weak player on the world stage. Joining things, issuing memos, hyping long term goals is well and good. But a president who will not honor pledges he makes to his own people, who will not even fire a White House staffer who makes a fool of him, is a weak link.
Do not think, for one moment, that China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Turkey, Cuba, Venezuela, half the Middle East and all of Europe, with dozens of other countries are not looking with clear eyes, eagerly rethinking options, recognizing that tough talk and aviator glasses are cheap, snowflakes on a desert, gone in heat. Biden’s behavior suggests malign opportunity.
Our adversaries are assessing Biden, and what they see – unless he reverses the impression fast – is weakness, profound and consistent, bumbling and bleached out, stumbling and stuck in a time warp where words are enough to stop hungry, powerful, anti-Western, insatiable adversaries.
Bottom line is this: So far, the Biden team looks like a gaggle of young geese, a field of bump-and-go goslings, sure they know which way to go, paying no attention to each other, little to the president, preening before cameras. And Biden is letting them do so, as if all this were a game.
It is not. International opportunists, like eager predators – state and non-state adversaries – are measuring the Biden team’s depth and resolve, seriousness, organization, gamesmanship, experience, qualifications, courage, willingness to take hard decisions, capacity to unify – and finding them objectively wanting. Few could reach any other conclusion.
Odds grow each day that Biden will be sorely tested by foreign adversaries, likely on multiple fronts at once with direct or surrogate actions, maybe both, and maybe coordinated. As Biden’s politically correct, internally preoccupied, blame -America team churns cheap words, obsessed with militarizing Washington (wholly unnecessary), vetting the American military for “extremists” (ditto), defunding law enforcement (tragic), those with a bead on us watch – and plan. Things need to change fast, signals get sent – or things may change not at our behest. In short, words are cheap. Our adversaries know it. We need to make them count and keep ours.