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Joe Biden’s long history: fair game?


It’s not fair to hold Joe Biden to things he said and did twenty, thirty, forty years ago.

Yes he worked closely with segregationists. So did John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and virtually every other Congressional Democrat of the 1950s-1970s.

Yes he was part and parcel of the 1990s crime bill that most experts now agree put far too many people in jail for such minor offenses as marijuana possession.

But he’s since denounced the segregationists and the crime bill and in fact just came out with his new proposal on criminal justice reform; it contains most elements that the Left is demanding.

Yet this won’t stop Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and other Democrats running for president from bashing him.

As an older American, I know that people can change their views over time. Indeed, it is well and good that they do so. Bobby Kennedy, for example, went from being a pro-McCarthy Democrat to a leading voice for social justice. Bill and Hillary Clinton changed their minds on gay rights. So did Obama. Abraham Lincoln changed his mind bigtime on slavery. Republican isolationists in the 1930s changed their minds after Pearl Harbor. Intelligent people change their minds all the time when confronted with new information. As Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

People say Biden should apologize for his support of the old crime bill. I suppose he could do that; it would be easy enough to mouth the words. But what’s the point—to satisfy some people who want him to grovel? What’s important is what he thinks now, not what he thought thirty years ago. I guarantee you there will come a time when Cory Booker has to reverse himself on something he once voted for. (Lord knows most Democrats have had to do that concerning their Iraq War votes!) It’s easy for politicians like Harris and Booker to jump on Biden; they didn’t have to take those votes way back when. Very few politicians who have been in office for any length of time can claim 100% purity or consistency. Most shift positions over time, not simply because they have their fingers to the political winds, but because some of these issues are truly complicated, and politicians have to do their best in deciding what position to take on an issue that is changing with each daily headline.

It’s all well and good for the Democratic candidates to debate all the issues vigorously. But I wish they would get off their holier-than-thou horses. Democrats had better be united going into the 2020 presidential contest, which is going to be the most expensive, dirtiest ever. The dirt will consist of lies, disinformation, misleading campaign ads and—likely—more Russian interference through fake social media posts. And almost all the dirt is going to come from Republicans and Trumpites, who understand that they cannot win a national election without resorting to smear and fear to drive down the vote.

Now, to Mueller’s testimony. As I write this (midway during the House Judiciary hearing), it’s all a big “Meh.” Mueller is doing exactly what he promised, or threatened: not going beyond the Report. You have Republicans, like the Arizonian Debbie Lesko, doing their best to undermine the Report by asking a series of misleading questions; and Democrats unable to pry anything out of Mueller beyond “The Report speaks for itself.” I will leave it to History to have the final word—but to me the outstanding question is Why Mueller does not feel it incumbent on himself to save the Republic? He has an agenda; we don’t know what it is; someday, we shall.

  1. “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
    That’s the problem with religion, consistency and no evolution.

  2. Alain: Exactly. Some organized religions are backward and ridiculous.

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