A Never Trumper's Second Thoughts

George Will pivots from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Washington Post columnist George Will, once advertised as the “best writer, any subject” and the “dean of conservative journalists,” hailed the “studied elegance” of Barack Obama, a contrast to “Donald Trump’s visceral vulgarity.” Will admits to voting for Joe Biden in 2020 but now appears to have second thoughts.

In his recent column, “Revived or comatose? Biden’s presidency one year from now,” Will calls out Biden’s “incompetence in Afghanistan,” his handling of the border, and quickly moves on to Biden’s “insufficient aptitude for the performative dimension of the presidency.” This lapse can be surmounted “if his aides will serve him, and the nation, better. It is political malpractice for them to put him in situations that require skills that he — always garrulous, rarely fluent — has never possessed.” Will then invokes past presidents.

In regard to “silent Cal” Coolidge, “Biden should consider this theory: The less we see of presidents, the more likely we are to admire them.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower was “sometimes syntactically challenged when speaking extemporaneously,” Will contends, “and sometimes his foggy sentences disguised his guile.”

Those who remember “Ike,” as President Eisenhower was known, will find it hard to recall any statement similar to Biden’s “we choose truth over facts,” or that “Hitler in fact invaded Europe.” As Mark Bowden noted in 2010, Biden is “not an intellectual” and “makes few references to books and learned influences.”

As commander of U.S. forces during World War II, General Eisenhower played a major role in taking down Hitler’s National Socialist regime. Eisenhower won the presidency in 1952 and again in 1956, when “I Like Ike” placards appeared in force. Eisenhower’s electoral victories over Democrat Adlai Stevenson were undisputed. At his inauguration, the victorious Republican did not surround the Capitol with 25,000 troops in the style of Joe Biden.

At times, George Will contends, Eisenhower’s “foggy sentences disguised his guile.” That invites a review of President Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell speech.

“Throughout America’s adventure in free government our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations,” President Eisenhower said. “A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.”

On the other hand, “In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” The supposedly foggy Ike turned out prophetic.

The military-industrial complex now wields incredible power, a party to endless conflicts such as the war in Afghanistan. Biden’s Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was once embedded with Raytheon, a major military contractor. Carlos Del Toro, Joe Biden’s choice for Secretary of the Navy, is also the founder, owner, and CEO of SBG Technology Solutions, a defense contractor that does business with the Navy.

Joe Biden never served in the military, and murderous attacks on U.S. soldiers have drawn a rather strange response from the Delaware Democrat. On November 5, 2009, at Fort Hood, Texas, U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan gunned down, 13 unarmed U.S. soldiers, including Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, Sgt. Amy Krueger, and Pvt. Francheska Velez, who was pregnant.

“Jill and I join the President and Michelle in expressing our sympathies to the families of the brave soldiers who fell today,” in what was a “senseless tragedy,” Biden said in a statement. The vice president, who had access to the best information, did not explain how the soldiers “fell,” and mentioned not a single victim by name.

It’s hard to imagine President Eisenhower responding to the mass murder of American soldiers in similar fashion, or calling the attack “workplace violence,” in the style of the composite character David Garrow described in Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. It’s also unimaginable that President Eisenhower would have described the Soviet Union, America’s primary adversary at the time, as “not bad folks,” as Joe Biden did with China, a Communist dictatorship.

Joe Biden also claims the United States military must fight “climate change.” U.S. veterans from World War II on might guess what President Eisenhower would say about that. Likewise, there is no record of Eisenhower telling an auto worker “You’re full of shit,” in the style of Biden, fully capable of  “visceral vulgarity.”

George Will believes a “politically buoyant” Joe Biden could be “remembered fondly as the bridge to a better politics.” The best writer, any subject, and dean of conservative journalists, has moved from Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) to Biden Derangement Syndrome (BDS), the belief that the addled Joe Biden could be an exemplary president. Will’s longtime friend Conrad Black doesn’t think so.

“It has all come unstuck and gone horribly wrong,” Black explains. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, “are both clearly incapable of executing national office.” Under Trump, Black recalls, “the lowest 20 percent of income earners were gaining income more quickly in percentage terms than the top 10 percent.” Black now contends that “Trump is instrumental in the restoration of two-party rule.” (emphasis in original)  As Trump likes to say, we’ll have to see what happens.

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