My retired medical doctor friend who recently experienced a stroke that left him at least temporarily paralyzed on one side of his body very gratefully didn't lose his remarkable contemplative faculties or good humor.
He told me in a telephone conversation of a cognitive test that asked him, "Who is the president of the United States?"
My pal thoughtfully responded, "We don't have one."
Well, OK. I guess in an official sense it can be argued that we do as of January 20 when President Biden was formally inaugurated.
But just who, after all, is the real Joe Biden?
It's not as if he hasn't been around the Washington public scene for nearly a half-century. Agree or not with many of his positions and actions over that time, he's certainly a far cry from any unknown political newbie.
As for any memorable accomplishments during those four decades in the Senate and two terms as vice president … well, that's perhaps a bit of a head-scratcher.
Regarding minority rights, his own V.P. pick, Kamala Harris, had famously criticized former Senator Joe for racist anti-bussing policies during the presidential primary debates.
Robert Gates, who served as the Obama-Biden administration's secretary of defense, wrote in his memoir that Joe Biden had "been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."
And whereas presidential candidate Biden had harshly criticized President Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ron Klain — former V.P Biden's chief of staff, observed that the Obama-Biden White House handling of the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic "had nothing to do with us doing anything right."
Instead, Klain said, "It just had to do with luck … imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math on that."
Joe Biden's policies on key issues never even seemed to come up during the virtual election non-campaign trail from his protected basement bunker to rare parking lot appearances. The legacy media never bothered to ask. Others who dared to pose probing questions were rebuffed or ignored.
Like, for example, why does former Sen. Biden, who was once against public abortion funding, now continue to waffle on even opposing late-term abortion?
Does Joe still believe as he did when he downplayed China as an economic threat while campaigning in Iowa, "China is going to eat our lunch?" He said, "Come on, man … I mean they're not bad folks, folks. But Guess what? They're not competition for us."
Despite repeated urgings — why did Biden steadfastly refuse to denounce lawlessness or defend police during violent summer rioting, looting, property destruction and murders in major Democratic- mismanaged cities?
Recall also, that his V.P running mate, then-Sen. Harris, even supported a get-out-of-jail-free bail fund for the perpetrators.
Nevertheless, President Biden wasted no opportunities to blame and condemn his predecessor for inciting tragic January 6th rioting by lunatics that desecrated America's Capitol during a peaceful rally of tens of thousands who were demonstrating support for then-President Trump's numerous policies and achievements.
Recapping at CPAC last week what "Trumpism" meant to many tens of millions more who voted for him, he said:
- "Great trade deals" that put America's economic interests first.
- Low taxes and "elimination of business and job-killing regulations."
- Strong borders: "People coming into our country based on a system of merit."
- Law enforcement: "It means no riots in the streets."
- "Very strong" Second Amendment protection of the right to keep and bear arms."
- Maintaining "a strong military and taking care of our vets."
- "Patriotic education and strongly opposing radical indoctrination of America's youth."
- Affirming that "the Constitution means exactly what it says, as written."
- "Standing up to China, shutting down outsourcing, bringing back our factories and supply chains, and ensuring that America, not China, dominates the future of the world."
Loathe or love him, there has never been any question where President Trump stood on issues, nor that he could be counted on to follow through on those commitments.
By contrast, Joe Biden exhibits a compliant willingness to stand where uber-progressive handlers direct him to.
There's little secret that neither of the most preferred candidates of the far left — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — made it through the Democratic primary. Biden solely won out as the Democratic Party's more electable and malleable choice.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a co-chair of the Sanders side of the campaign's Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force, described Biden as "movable." She publicly bragged about an ability to "significantly push Joe Biden to do things that he hadn't signed on to before."
President Biden wasted no time repaying his radical mentors and dispelling any possible illusions about uniting the country around centrist policies.
On his first day in office, Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline and banned new drilling permits on federal land and waters, reversing Trump's policies which led to American energy independence as the world's leading oil and natural gas exporter.
Among a frenetic flurry of more than three dozen executive orders and policy directives, Biden essentially opened the U.S. southern border. He ended wall construction, instituted "sanctuary" practices authorizing "catch and release" programs, and froze deportations of illegal entrants — including convicted criminals.
Biden also immediately went after the Second Amendment. He called on Congress to require background checks on all gun sales, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and drive gun manufacturers out of business by making them civilly liable for irresponsible and criminal actions by their users.
President and military Commander in Chief Biden's policies, judgement and actions — along with America's national security — will now be tested by very shrewd world leaders.
So, how's that working out so far?
Recounting a recent conversation with his counterpart, China's President Xi Jinping, our leader dismissed the genocide against his Uighur population as merely a "different norm."
This dangerous confusion regarding leadership norms might help to explain why a recent letter signed by three dozen House members of his own party have urged that he relinquish full control over America's nuclear weapons in favor of a committee approach.
Perhaps this apparent distrust is also why Kamala, rather than exclusively Joe, is now conducting solo meetings with foreign leaders, a role seldom delegated to vice presidents.
Yes, and it's also a reason we might believe House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she said that her proposal to create a sanity assessment tribunal under the 25th Amendment that can remove a president deemed mentally unfit from office was "not about Donald Trump."
This is, after all, the same Joe Biden who in February 2020 had mistakenly introduced himself as a Democratic candidate for the Senate, and in October of that year, as Kamala's running mate (not the reverse).
So, once again, who is the president of the United States?
If given the same cognitive test that my friend received, would even Joe really know?
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 10 books, "What Makes Humans Truly Exceptional," (2021) is available on Amazon along with all others. Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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