Commentary: If Character Matters, Biden Flunks the Test

Joe Biden
by J. Peder Zane


When a candidate runs on character, you know his record can’t be good.

Hence President Biden’s reported $50 million spend on an ad titled “Character Matters,” which features unflattering photos of Donald Trump while focusing on the Republican nominee’s legal troubles. Hey, we paid good taxpayer money engineering those court cases and we’re not going to waste it.

“Going negative,” as they say in politics, worked for Biden before. He was on the ticket in 2012 when Barack Obama became the first modern president to win reelection with fewer votes than he received the first time. And Trump gives the Democrats plenty more to work with than Mitt Romney did.

Biden will try to keep the discussion focused on Trump’s flaws with good reason: Only in the bizarro world of American politics could the current incumbent be cast as the candidate of decency and integrity.

With the unstinting support of the corrupt corporate media, which works to bury evidence of Biden’s troubling character rather than expose it, the president will memory hole his long history of dishonesty, deceit, and disturbing behavior to cast himself as a man of compassion and integrity.

Fortunately, we have the receipts.

Most politicians have a casual relationship with the truth, but Biden stands out in his insistence on repeating thoroughly debunked statements. At a Hollywood event with Obama last week he claimed that Trump promised a “bloodbath” of violence if he does not prevail this November – the former president used that term in describing the effect of Biden’s climate polices on the automobile industry. Biden also repeated the canard that Trump had told people to inject bleach to fight COVID-19. The Washington Post was among the outlets that give these falsehoods the stamp of approval by failing to provide context or correction as they do with most every word Trump utters.

Biden’s penchant for prevarication runs so deep that the New York Times recently sought to defuse the issue while reporting on it (neat trick, that) by addressing what it called his propensity to tell “tall tales.” While detailing some small-beer falsities – that he turned down an appointment to the Naval Academy and that an uncle might have been eaten by cannibals – the article ignored his bizarre pattern of turning personal tragedies into political talking points.

For decades Biden said his wife and daughter were killed in 1972 by a truck driver who “allegedly … drank his lunch.” Crash investigators found no evidence to support the claim, a fact Biden finally acknowledged in 2009, under pressure from the man’s distraught family. Biden still suggests that his son Beau lost his life in Iraq – he died from a brain tumor six years after his brave service. These tragedies are terrible enough – what kind of man insistently lies about such matters?

Not someone of high character. A person for whom dishonesty is a habit of mind.

Consider his long record of plagiarism. The first recorded instance was in 1965 when he reportedly stole not a few sentences or paragraphs but five full pages of a 15-page law school paper. He was immediately caught and chastised by the school which considered expelling him. He later characterized it as a youthful “mistake.”

Such an experience would be chastening to most. Instead, Biden continued to steal the work of others. He was forced out of the 1988 presidential race after it was shown that he had lifted the emotional heart of his stump speech – including details he presented as autobiographical – from a British politician.

He’s still at it. While it didn’t rise to the level of plagiarism, parts of the D-Day commemoration speech Biden delivered earlier this month are eerily similar to Ronald Reagan’s famous 1984 address. The New York Times reported, “Forty Years Later, Biden Seeks to Echo Reagan’s Legacy of American Leadership.”

Biden told one of the most consequential lies in American political history when he declared at his last debate with Trump in 2020 that his son Hunter’s abandoned laptop was a “Russian plant.” Polls later showed that many of his voters in the tight election might have had second thoughts about backing him if they had known that the damning materials – which contradicted his insistence that he knew nothing of his son’s shady foreign dealings – were true.

The foundational evidence for Biden’s decency is his deep commitment to family. His “boundless love” for his two children and his almost “religious devotion” to his grandchildren are staples of articles describing his character. This narrative, however, requires one to ignore the words of his own son and daughter.

In a July 2019 diary entry, his daughter Ashley wonders why she was “Hyper-sexualized @ a young age.” “What is this due to?” The reasons she lists include “showers with my dad (probably not appropriate).”

Emails from Hunter’s laptop suggest that the son thought his father was using him as a conduit for the family’s influence peddling schemes. “Unlike Pop,” Hunter wrote one of his daughters in 2019, “I won’t make you give me half your salary.”

Perhaps Hunter’s and Ashley’s words should be taken with a grain of salt, given their long histories of substance abuse. But it’s hard to believe they fashioned these charges out of whole cloth. We do know that Hunter and Joe commingled assets and shared accounts and that Hunter handled payments for many of Joe’s bills. Ashley’s account dovetails with those of other women who have claimed that Joe touched them inappropriately.

While many videos show Biden pressing himself against the bodies of young women and girls and sniffing their hair, the 2020 allegations of his former Senate aide, Tara Reade, go much further. In 1993, she told the New York Times, Biden pinned her to a wall in a Senate building and forced his fingers inside her vagina. “He looked at me kind of almost puzzled or shocked,” she told the newspaper. “He said, ‘Come on, man, I heard you liked me.’ … He pointed his finger at me and he just goes: ‘You’re nothing to me. Nothing,’” she said. “Then, he took my shoulders and said, ‘You’re OK, you’re fine.’”

The Times confirmed Reade’s assertion that she had told two people at the time about the assault. Her story was further bolstered when video surfaced of a 1993 call to Larry King Live, later identified as Reade’s mother, who said, “My daughter has just left there after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.”

The Times article also reported that “Last year [2019], Ms. Reade and seven other women came forward to accuse Mr. Biden of kissing, hugging or touching them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable.”

Biden denied Reade’s allegation and – poof – it went away, even as the media and Democratic Party lawyers turn allegations of Trump’s sexual misconduct into attack ads and criminal convictions.

We live in strange times when a man as morally flawed as Joe Biden can present himself as shining beacon of integrity. One can draw many distinctions between the two leading candidates for the presidency, but character is not one of them. My advice: Hold your nose and vote on their records.

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J. Peder Zane is a RealClearInvestigations editor and columnist. He previously worked as a book review editor and book columnist for the News & Observer (Raleigh), where his writing won several national honors. Zane has also worked at the New York Times and taught writing at Duke University and Saint Augustine’s University.
Photo “Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0



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