Norman Mailer used to say when he was upright that Americans tend to admire their politicians, if for nothing else, for getting older. That I think explains the nomination for president of the United States of former Vice President Joe Biden. He did not only get older, he got ancient. He is almost an antique.
If he is elected president this autumn, he will be the oldest man to ever be elected. He will come into the White House even older than Ronald Reagan was when Reagan left office. The American people watched Reagan struggle with colon cancer, skin cancer, a prostate operation and an intermittent hobbling in his right leg, to say nothing of an assassin’s bullet.
I called the Old Cowboy one tough hombre. His Democratic opponents called him a boob. So did the mainstream media. Through Reagan’s economic revival of the country and victory in the Cold War, the Democrats still called him a boob. So did the media. Ronald Reagan’s enemies call the winner of the Cold War and the reviver of the American economy a boob. What do they call Joe Biden?
Well, the Democrats could call him a plagiarist. He has been caught plagiarizing many times. Most famously he plagiarized from a speech given by the British politician Neil Kinnock. That instance of thievery forced him to pull out of the 1988 race for the White House. He also plagiarized from the work of Robert Kennedy and John Kennedy. More recently Joe plagiarized, we are told by Reagan speech writer Ken Khachigian, from a speech given by Ronald Reagan years ago.
Joe has also been called gaffable. He is the most gaffe-prone politician in modern times. Finally, he has been called a cheat. Starting with his law schoolwork back the 1960s and going right up to recent years in his dealings with the Russians, he has been called a cheat. Joe, a proven plagiarist and a cheat, is now running for president as a moral paragon. How is the thing possible?
Last week the Democrats, in convention assembled — or should we say, in convention disassembled — nominated him to lead their ticket in the contest for the highest office in the land. As Norman used to say, the American people admire their politicians, if for nothing else, for getting older. Given his age alone, Joe might well be the most admired politician in America.
Yet, I think he is going to lose. The country is wracked by protests. They are occurring, as Donald Trump reminds us, mostly in blue-state municipalities: in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Portland, Portland, night after night Portland. The scenes we are seeing are of looting — the “protesters” bring rent-all trucks right up to the gutted stores.
This has never been witnessed in America before. The “protesters” loot giant department stores and they loot stores owned by the little fellows. This is presumably called looting for social justice. They burn churches. They topple statues. Frederick Douglass, George Washington, even the man who beat the Confederacy, Ulysses S. Grant.
One of their rallying calls is “defunding the police.” The cities are overrun by rampant crime — looting, murder and violence — and their mayors claim that they will pacify the cities by cutting back on police forces. There is a whiff of 1920s Weimar to this.
Yet, at the Democratic convention last week, not one word about the chaos in the streets was uttered. No word about the statues being destroyed. No word about the rioting in the streets. Nothing about the poor people who have lost their stores and in some instances their lives. This in itself is amazing. I thought the Democrats were the party of compassion and caring.
The Democrats opened their hearts to George Floyd. Why did they not also open their hearts to David Dorn, the retired police officer who was guarding a friend’s pawn shop from looters when he was shot dead, or any of the other victims of criminal violence?
Now the Democrats expect to elect the gaffable Joe Biden — a proven plagiarist, a cheat and, this comes with his profile, a liar — to the highest office in the land. I think not. Joe will be defeated Nov. 3. I expressed similar sentiments about Hillary Clinton in 2016. Was I wrong?
My only question is who will the Democrats blame their defeat on this time? They might as well blame the protesters in the street.
• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.