Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
In an apocryphal story about Christopher Columbus, the great explorer was insulted at a banquet by a man who said that discovering America was no big deal, since if Columbus hadn’t done it, somebody else would have. Columbus said nothing, but asked for an egg. He then challenged the banqueteers to make the egg stand on end. After several fruitless efforts, Columbus tapped the small end of the egg on the table, flattening it so it would stand up. His point was obvious: after the difficult deed is done, everybody knows how to do it.
This tale came to mind last week when Joe Biden tried to claim some credit for Trump’s brokering of a groundbreaking deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that normalizes relations between the two countries. Biden’s effort didn’t impress anyone beyond the NeverTrump diehards and their stenographers in the mainstream media. But it is another example of how the history of the Obama years is being rewritten to lend some glamor and excitement to a party with no policy ideas other than failed socialist magical thinking.
More important, that willingness to distort the past is one of the left’s most important weapons for instituting tyranny.
Biden’s statement was so specious one might attribute it to his obvious cognitive decline. “I personally,” Biden said, “spent time with leaders of both Israel and UAE during our administration building the case for cooperation and broader engagement and the benefits it could deliver to both nations.” But every vice-president “personally” spends time superficially discussing all sorts of issues with foreign leaders. Most of these are photo-ops that generate banal statements like “cooperation and broader engagement” that are forgotten by the next news cycle.
A significant, meaningful discussion, on the other hand, leads to significant action and results. For example, take Biden’s colloquy with the president of Ukraine. In March of 2016, as Biden later boasted, the Veep threatened Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko that the U.S. would not honor $1 billion in loan guarantees unless the prosecutor looking into Burisma Holdings, suspected of corruption, was fired. As Biden gleefully related later about threatening Poroshenko, “‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch, he got fired.”
Now that’s an “achievement” Biden deserves to take credit for. But cui bono? His son Hunter, who served on Burisma’s board, and whose own company, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, “received regular transfers into one of its accounts,” John Solomon reported, “usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.”
And let’s not pass over the hypocrisy of a vice president using a concern for “corruption” in order to abuse his office to benefit a family member, when his own party in a few years predicates articles of impeachment of Donald Trump on a conversation involving an alleged quid pro quo with––wait for it––a president of Ukraine.
No, the groundbreaking peace treaty between Israel and the UAE was not started during the Obama years. In fact, Trump’s reversal of Obama’s distancing the United States from Israel, and his cozying up to Iran, are what made a deal possible. The Arab powers in the Middle East are not concerned about Israel, or the shopworn pretext for terror and genocide, the “two states living side-by-side in peace” diplomatic industry that has achieved nothing for over half a century. They rightly see their enemy as the Iranian mullahcracy and its imperialist adventurism in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, ambitions a nuclear weapons capability would make possible. Trump’s departure from the appeasing nuclear deal with Iran was a great relief for the Arab states, as were the renewal of punitive sanctions, and acts of deterrent punishment like vaporizing Iranian Republican Guard generalissimo Qasem Soleimani––all of which were condemned by the Obama regime leftovers for “increasing tensions” and stoking “war.”
The Israelis, on the other hand, felt confident enough to make a deal because of Trump’s visible and strong support of one of our most consequential allies. Leaving a nuclear deal that represented an existential threat for Israel, strongly supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, moving our embassy to Jerusalem, confirming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and greenlighting the plans for annexation are just a few of Trump’s actions that made possible Israel’s indefinite postponement of its plan to impose sovereignty over portions of the so-called West Bank––the UAE’s most important condition for making peace.
The fact is, the Obama-Biden administration’s foreign policy in the region was a disaster that alienated our regional allies, thus making the possibility of any agreement even more remote. Yet don’t expect the Nobel Prize Committee to notice Trump’s achievement, even though it awarded the prize to Obama on spec, and to the previous two U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, who won the prize for brokering treaties: Carter for the Israel-Egypt peace in 1978, and Clinton for the Oslo Accords in 1994.
Needless to say, Biden’s alleged “personal” discussions with the UAE led to nothing remotely as consequential as the conversations he had with President Poroshenko. Biden’s attempt to take credit for Trump’s foreign policy breakthrough serves not just to burnish his mediocre foreign policy credentials before the election, but to hype the Obama administration’s dismal record of mediocrity and failure so Biden can bask in its glory.
Indeed, since Obama left office, the court-poets of academe and media have been trying to make a presidential purse out of a sow’s ear of a record. Before the pandemic battered the economy–– mainly due to blue-state governors imposing drastic, scientifically unproven lockdowns–– the media were trying to credit Obama’s in fact terrible economic policies for Trump’s record-breaking successes. Obama himself said in 2018, “When you hear how great the economy is doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started.”
Of course, the point is not when the recovery from the 2008 recession started, which was a few months into Obama’s first term. And most of the policies implemented to get it started were taken in the last several months of the George Bush administration. The real point is the speed of the recovery, which under Obama was slow enough to approach historical records. And many of his actions were counterproductive, such as the near $1 trillion stimulus bill passed in part to pay for “shovel-ready jobs.” In fact, very few such jobs were created, and the ones that were cost $4.1 million per job. And over the next few years, government investment in infrastructure dropped by more than half. As Obama himself chortled, “Shovel-ready jobs weren’t so shovel ready.” Millions of under- and unemployed Americans weren’t in on the joke.
And if Obama had put in place policies that in time would create the spectacular numbers Trump achieved, why were his economists warning us that future GDP growth would average no greater than 2% annually, a mark Trump exceeded during his first three fiscal years? Where are the predictions from 2016 that despite the sluggish recovery, the economy would take off like a rocket within a year, and the stock market rise by 55% before the pandemic hit? This attempt to rewrite history is a flop, an obviously feeble attempt on the part of Obama’s courtiers to salvage his presidential tenure, which has been one of the worst since World War II.
Expect to hear more fake history from Biden in the next few months, particularly since he has a proven record of making history up. But long beyond the addled vice president, the left has been notorious for its lies. As recovering communist Pierre Pascal said of the Soviet Union in 1927, “No regime has ever been a regime of lies to this extent.” So too another heretic, Boris Souvarine. Speaking of the Moscow-controlled propaganda of global Stalinist communist parties in the Thirties, he wrote, “Not one fact, not one quotation, not one idea, not one argument: only impudent affirmations with a half-dozen interchangeable words come from the ‘heights.’”
Sound familiar? Don’t we hear today from the “woke” left equally preposterous “half-dozen interchangeable” words and phrases like “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” “white supremacy,” “disparate impact,” “income inequality,” and all the other “impudent affirmations” that have no grounding in argument and fact? Lies that are enforced by coercion through the ostracizing and shaming of “cancel culture,” and the sheer violence against history in the form of public monuments, as well as against people and property, that we have been witnessing for over two months, are the classic modus operandi of the left. The socialist George Orwell, of course, is famous for describing this perennial instrument of totalitarian tyranny in 1984, from “Newspeak” to the “memory hole” into which the left crams inconvenient facts and history, and replaces them with lies, just as the New York Times’ “1619 Project” does.
So Biden’s (or his handlers’) attempts to rewrite recent history in order to further his and the left’s political ambitions go beyond his cognitive deficiencies or his flawed character. They go beyond the garden-variety exaggerations and spin that most politicians indulge. No, they expose the left’s long, dangerous lust for tyrannical power, which requires that the past be rewritten, its lessons unlearned, its monuments destroyed. Only then can people be made to sacrifice their most precious birthright––the freedom that stands in the way of all tyrannies.
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