Biden Puts His Foot in It (Again)
By Patrick F. Cannon
I’ve known Joe Biden since 1972. He was a brash young man then and was never – and I mean never – at a loss for words. When I say “known” I don’t mean I’ve actually met him, but I’ve seen and heard him so often that he seems like the younger brother I never had. You know, the young kid who can’t shut up.
Of course, he’s not so young anymore. If he somehow manages to get elected President in 2020, he’ll be 78 when he takes office. His equally talkative opponent for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, would be 79. For the record, Ronald Reagan was 78 when he left office after two terms. To be kind, he was not quite up to the task for the last two years or so.
Anyway, back to Joe. He served six terms in the Senate and two as Vice President. While in the Senate, hardly a Sunday passed without him appearing on one or more of the Sunday morning news programs like Meet the Press and Face the Nation. On one, he might talk about the Iraq war; and on the other, the latest Supreme Court nominee. He was never at a loss for words or an opinion.
That’s his problem now. When you have pontificated as much as he has over nearly 50 years in public office, you inevitably stick your foot in it from time to time. In our enlightened era, the longer your career, the more grist for the politically-correct mill. Historical perspective counts for nothing; it’s only today’s orthodoxy that counts.
Joe made the mistake of mentioning that to get things done you had occasionally to work with people whose opinions were abhorrent to you personally. He mentioned former Democratic senators James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, both arch segregationists, as fellow senators he worked with on other issues that were beneficial to the American people as a whole. Shame on him for putting the public good ahead of partisanship.
I may have lost count, but Biden has 22 challengers for the Democratic nomination for President. Every one of them was nearly apoplectic that he should even suggest that one could work with someone who didn’t measure up to the current orthodoxy. Of course, that orthodoxy depends on one-party control of the presidency and both houses of Congress. If they don’t achieve it – it will be difficult to dislodge the Republicans from control of the Senate – they will have to look good old Mitch McConnell in the eye. In case you haven’t noticed, he never blinks.
By the time you read this, the first of the Democratic Party debates will have taken place. One idea that seems to be gathering support from several candidates is forgiving student loan debt. The same candidates are also floating the idea of free college education for all (thus, presumably eliminating the student loan problem in the future).
As with everything else, the loan issue is complicated. For example, the Federal government was only too happy to approve loans to for-profit colleges and trade schools who were then only too happy to sign up unqualified students, who predictably flunked out owing a lot of money. And apparently it never occurred to many who did graduate from legitimate schools that they might have borrowed less money if they had actually worked to earn some of their tuition and other fees. Of course, I’m sure you won’t mind paying off their debts and their education costs going forward.
In this regard, I’m reminded of a story about former President Calvin Coolidge. When approached about the possibility of forgiving Great Britain’s debt from World War I, old “silent Cal” gave a typically brief reply: “They hired the money, didn’t they?”
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon