Presidential Optics

Joe Biden, as president, has acted like a cowardly capitulator to thugs on the world stage. His policies, in fact, are merely extensions of Donald Trump’s. The difference is that Biden has lived his entire adult life in the world of progressive government, where national cowardice and capitulation are regarded as virtues, or at least as useful means to the creation of the chaos in which progressivism thrives. Trump, by contrast, came from the world of big business, where success requires that one defraud and betray people without getting caught. Hence, Trump as president was a master at pitching his cowardly capitulation as courage and charisma.

Of course, regardless of how it is presented, the result of such anti-policy — chaos and the deliberate and avoidable empowerment of thugs — is the same. Presidential optics are all about “holding the base” and “winning the election.” None of that matters in real terms, when the players on both sides are in lockstep on essentials, as Trump and Biden clearly are with regard to the role of U.S. power, and the joy of disengaging from commitments to allies, promises to fledgling regimes, and the hopes of desperate peoples the world over who depend for their survival on military or moral support from the U.S.

What Trump never understood, because he is stupid and has only self-promotion in his heart, and what Biden will never understand, because he is even stupider and spent eight years as the right hand man of President Marxist Apology, is that protecting your country from foreign threats is not a wasteful expense, but rather almost the only legitimate function of the federal government of a free republic; and further, that in this age of high speed global movements, arsenals capable of destroying entire continents, and technological insidiousness, the old-fashioned idea of staying out of other people’s problems will not always mean what it once meant. That is to say, “other people’s problems” can and will quickly become your problems if you isolate yourself until you are completely surrounded by totalitarian aggressors who control all the economies and territories beyond your borders. (And, conveniently, both Trump and Biden lack the contact with reality to understand why their own country thought Afghanistan — unlike, say, Vietnam — was a morally justified war of self-defense from the outset, and therefore why simply declaring defeat and skulking away is tantamount to surrendering your national interests to your enemy.)

As it happens, this discussion of presidential optics versus global realities is more or less beside the point now, as there is no longer any advanced society on Earth, either beyond or within U.S. borders, where totalitarianism does not hold sway, whether in its “hard” or “soft” form — a predicament that has been creeping toward the pantry for generations, but that has certainly been encouraged to help itself to all the food by the petty and myopic brand of optics pursued by three successive U.S. presidents.

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