Présidentielle américaine: Faux prolo et vrai apparatchik, quel meilleur argument pour la réélection du président Trump ? (Lunch bucket Joe: Only in a place as removed from reality as the Beltway could a man who has spent more than three decades in the US Senate be hailed as a working-class stiff)

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Donald Trump est le seul président de l’histoire américaine qui sera plus pauvre après être devenu président qu’avant (…) et qui a pourtant écouté les gens mêmes que la classe dirigeante détestait. Charlie Kirk
En principe, une telle annonce est censée réjouir tous les hommes de bonne volonté indépendamment de leurs prises de position politique, la paix étant–on excusera le lieu commun–toujours préférable à la guerre. A fortiori lorsqu’il s’agit d’un État juif et d’un État arabe et musulman dont on connaît l’antagonisme historique. Il est normal et d’une grande logique politique que la République Islamique d’Iran ou que le Hamas palestinien, qui ne dissimulent pas leurs désirs de détruire Israël, vouent cet accord aux gémonies. Mais la gauche et son extrémité qui aiment à afficher par tous les temps et de tout temps leur pacifisme exacerbé (« le capitalisme apporte la guerre, comme la nuée l’orage » nous expliquent doctement les marxistes, « le nationalisme c’est la guerre » nous disent les trotskistes, Mitterrand et Macron) s’est montré d’une immense discrétion. C’est ainsi que Le Monde du 14 aout, toujours égal à lui-même, n’a pas hésité à présenter négativement l’accord comme une omission des Palestiniens, jusqu’à travestir la réalité. En effet, bien qu’il s’agisse d’un accord bilatéral ne concernant en rien la Palestine, les Émirats Arabes Unis ont tenu à ce que cet accord contienne une clause de suspension du projet d’annexion par Israël de cette vallée du Jourdain au demeurant acceptée depuis longtemps par la partie palestinienne, en cas d’accord définitif, en raison du fait qu’elle est peu peuplée d’Arabes et d’une importance stratégique existentielle pour l’Etat Juif. Sauf que la représentation politique des Arabes de Palestine ne s’est jamais résolue depuis un siècle à renoncer à une portion d’une terre qu’elle considère toujours, de parfaite bonne foi irrédentiste, comme arabe et musulmane. Cette absence d’enthousiasme de la gauche pacifiste autoproclamée dissimule mal le fait que depuis longtemps sans le dire elle ne se soutient plus que du bout des lèvres l’existence de l’État d’Israël Plusieurs raisons conscientes et inconscientes expliquent cette désaffection montante. La première et que la gauche xénophile a basculé dans le camp de la radicalité anti-occidentale la plus pathologique. Peu importe donc que celui-ci soit raciste ou antisémite. La seconde, est que la gauche européiste et son extrémité affichent désormais une détestation pour les États-nations. A fortiori lorsqu’ils sont d’occident. La troisième est que la gauche et son extrémité sont atteints de racisme anti blanc. La quatrième, qui n’est que la synthèse des trois premières, est que l’Israélien–ou le juif moderne–est considéré comme un super blanc au rebours du juif ancien que le vieil antisémite prenait pour un métèque. L’État-nation juif occidental qui se bat bec et ongles pour défendre ses frontières n’en est que plus détestable pour la gauche devenue internationaliste. Il ne faut dès lors pas s’étonner que les populations immigrées d’origine arabe ou musulmane présentes sur le sol français se montrent souvent beaucoup plus hostiles que d’autres populations arabes ou musulmanes à l’égard d’Israël et par voie de conséquence l’ensemble des juifs. (…) Voilà pourquoi, même s’ils ne le savent pas, les gentils pacifistes et antiracistes autoproclamés de gauche préfèrent mille fois voir l’état du peuple juif réprouvé rituellement ou tenu en étau dans un ghetto plutôt que de le voir signer des accords de paix avec ses anciens ennemis. L’imposture de gauche pacifique et antiraciste est une formule décidément pléonastique. Gilles-William Goldnadel
Il s’est trompé sur quasiment toutes les questions de politique étrangère et de sécurité nationale des quatre dernières décennies. Robert Gates (ancien ministre de la défense américain, 2014)
Le vice-président, quand il était sénateur – un tout nouveau sénateur – a voté contre le programme d’aide au Sud-Vietnam, et cela faisait partie de l’accord lorsque nous nous sommes retirés du Sud-Vietnam pour essayer de les aider. Il a dit que lorsque le Shah est tombé en Iran en 1979, c’était un pas en avant pour le progrès vers les droits de l’homme en Iran. Il s’est opposé à pratiquement tous les éléments de renforcement de la défense du président Reagan. Il a voté contre le B-1, le B -2, le MX et ainsi de suite. Il a voté contre la première guerre du Golfe. Donc sur un certain nombre de ces questions majeures, j’ai juste franchement, pendant une longue période, estimé qu’il avait eu tort. Robert Gates
Joe is simply impossible not to like. He’s down to earth, funny, profane, and humorously self-aware of his motormouth. Not too many meetings had occurred in the Situation room before the president started impatiently cutting Biden off. Joe is a man of integrity, incapable of hiding what he really thinks, and one of those rare people you know you could turn to for help in a personal crisis. Still, I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades. Robert M. Gates (ex-secretary of defense for Bush and Obama, 2014)
Joe Biden doesn’t have a perfect foreign policy record. But unlike Trump, he’s learned from his mistakes. In considering Joe Biden’s foreign policy record, it’s hard to overlook the scathing critique delivered by Robert Gates, the Washington wise man and veteran of half a dozen administrations who served as President Barack Obama’s first defense secretary. While Biden was “a man of integrity” who was “impossible not to like,” Gates wrote in a 2014 memoir, “he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” (…) Biden voted against the successful U.S. military campaign that expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991. In Iraq, he compiled a trifecta of blunders: He voted for the 2003 invasion; opposed the 2007 “surge” that rescued the mission from utter disaster; and oversaw the premature 2011 withdrawal of the last U.S. troops, which opened the way for the Islamic State. Biden argued against Obama’s 2009 decision to surge U.S. troops in Afghanistan, proposing that the mission should instead limit itself to counterterrorism. But according to Gates, he raised his hand against the most important counter­terrorism operation of recent years, the 2011 special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden. (Biden has said he later encouraged Obama to go ahead.) (Yet] by all accounts the former vice president, unlike Trump, has learned from his mistakes. (…) If he wins and sticks to that, he won’t go far wrong. Jackson Diehl (Deputy Editorial Page Editor, The Washington post, Sep. 27, 2020)
Biden n’a pas d’idéologie, il est au centre et, quel que soit le centre, il y va. Gérard Araud
Ne sous-estimez pas la capacité de Joe à tout foirer. Barack Obama
Vous avez le premier Afro-américain bien articulé, intelligent, propre et qui est beau à regarder. Vous avez une histoire. Joe Biden (2007)
Vous ne pouvez pas aller dans un 7-Eleven ou dans un Dunkin’ Donuts à moins d’avoir un léger accent indien. Joe Biden
Les enfants pauvres sont aussi intelligents et talentueux que les enfants blancs. Joe Biden (2019)
Je vais vous dire, si vous avez un problème pour décider si vous êtes pour moi ou pour Trump, alors vous n’êtes pas Noir. Joe Biden (2020)
Aucune rhétorique n’est nécessaire. Jugez simplement ce président sur les faits. 5 millions d’Américains infectés par la COVID-19. Plus de 170 000 Américains qui en sont morts. De loin la pire performance de toutes les nations de la planète. (…) Regardez autour de vous. Ce n’est pas si mal au Canada. Ou en Europe. Ou au Japon. Ou presque partout ailleurs dans le monde. (…) Nous menons le monde pour les cas confirmés. Nous menons le monde pour les décès. Nous menons le monde pour les cas confirmés. Nous menons le monde pour les morts. (…)  Plus de 50 millions qui se sont inscrits au chômage cette année. Plus de 10 millions qui perdront leur couverture maladie cette année. Près d’une PME sur six qui a fermé ses portes. Joe Biden (2020)
Donald Trump n’a pas su être à la hauteur de sa fonction car il en est incapable. Et les conséquences de cet échec sont graves. Cent soixante-dix mille Américains sont morts. Des millions d’emplois ont été détruits alors que ceux qui sont au sommet de la pyramide sont de plus en plus riches. Nos pires instincts se sont déchaînés, notre honneur et notre réputation dans le monde entier ont été malmenés, et nos institutions démocratiques n’ont jamais été aussi menacées. Barack Obama
Ils voient avec horreur des enfants séparés de leurs familles et jetés en cage avec des gaz lacrymogènes et des balles en caoutchouc utilisés contre des manifestants pacifiques pour une opération de communication. Michelle Obama
If we were to have a President Hillary Clinton, would Obama (or his many media allies) consider it fair game to blame tens of thousands of American COVID-19 deaths on her? Do they honestly believe that, under Democrats, the death toll would have been 170? That would ignore the fact that the worst coronavirus death tolls are largely in states with Democratic governors. Tim Graham
People have forgotten how Joe Biden did in New Hampshire. He was terrible. He got 8.4 percent of the vote, which is unbelievable for a candidate with any aspirations of being president. What the Democrats should have done if they were really serious about beating Trump would have been to rally around one candidate right from the start and not have a protracted battle in which people get wounded. They needed to pick one person and have everybody else take a pass. That’s the only way I could see that my model would have worked in their favor. My prediction is what I call ‘unconditional final. It does not change. It’s a mathematical model based on things that have happened. The presidential election of 2016 has happened, the primary results are in. I can add in the results of more primaries, but even those numbers have happened and can’t change either. (…) Now I predict straight to the Electoral College. I’ve never done that before, but I made an adjustment because of the mismatch we had in 2016, and I’m prepared to see Trump lose the popular vote again. So this prediction is entirely about the electoral votes. (…) Everybody thinks Trump is going to go down in flames, and here I am predicting with almost total certainty that he’s going to win. It seems crazy. But it’s not. Helmut Norpoth
It is hugely frustrating to see conservatives, who couldn’t give a damn about the multiple sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump, weaponize the accusations against Biden. However, it’s also frustrating to see so many liberals turning a blind eye. The accusations against the former vice-president are serious; why aren’t they being taken seriously? (…) There are some people who will insist that drawing attention to the new allegations against Biden is playing into the Republicans’ hands. That it will destroy Biden’s campaign and guarantee us four more years of Trump. Not only is that argument hypocritical, it is also hugely unlikely that Reade’s accusations will do any damage whatsoever to Biden’s ambitions. Allegations of sexual assault certainly haven’t posed any hindrance to Trump. The allegations against Kavanaugh didn’t stop him from becoming a supreme court justice. The allegations against Louis CK didn’t kill his career in comedy. And the multiple women who have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately in the past haven’t exactly derailed his career. Arwa Mahdawi
Mostly it was the Democratic Party talking to itself and playing to its base. Missing was any hint of priorities or plans, of the meaning of the party or its intentions. They made the case against Donald Trump, and a case for Joe Biden as an essentially decent person. But they didn’t say what they’ll do. And this year that is key. I’m not sure they’re sufficiently aware of two things. One is the number of people who don’t like Mr. Trump and will vote for him anyway. They don’t have to be talked into thinking he’s a bad character, they’re already on board. All summer I’ve been running into two kinds of people. One kind says, “That man is a living shame on our country and must be removed.” The other kind says very little. They don’t defend him. They say, “I can’t believe I may vote for him, but . . .” And always they explain it this way: “What the other guys are gonna do on taxes,” “What the other guys will do to my industry,” “What the Democrats will do to the economy.” I’m getting the impression that for a lot of people, the ballot this fall won’t read “Trump vs. Biden” but “Trump vs. What the Other Guys Will Do.” Do the Democrats understand how hunkered-down many people feel, psychologically and physically, after the past six months? If I asked this right now of a convention planner or participant I think they’d say, “Yes, people feel battered by systemic bias, inequality, and climate change.” And I’d say no, they’re afraid of foreclosures! They’re afraid of a second wave, no schools, more shutdowns, job losses and suddenly the supply lines break down this winter and there are food shortages. When this is the context, what a great party plans to do couldn’t be more crucial. As for Mr. Biden, all his political life he’s tried to express himself in ways he thinks eloquent but that tend to be only long-winded. He chases a thought a long way, even when it’s a small one and not worth the hunt. All of this is part of his old-school way and is neither harmful nor helpful. But he had a strong, tight speech. He looked good, spoke crisply, maintained focus. The speech is going to do him some significant good. Though he didn’t make his plans and intentions clear. (…) apart from the “We The People” gauziness, there was a nonstop hum of grievance at the convention. To show their ferocious sincerity in the struggle against America’s injustices, most of the speakers thought they had to beat the crap out of the country—over and over. Its sins: racism, sexism, bigotry, violence, xenophobia, being unwelcoming to immigrants. The charges, direct and indirect, never let up. Little love was expressed, little gratitude. Everyone was sort of overcoming being born here. Even Mr. Obama, trying, in a spirit of fairness, to expand the circle of the aggrieved, spoke of “Irish and Italians and Asians and Latinos told: Go back where you come from. Jews and Catholics, Muslims and Sikhs, made to feel suspect . . . black Americans chained and whipped and hanged. Spit on for trying to sit at lunch counters, beaten for trying to vote. . . . They knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from the myth.” The cumulative effect of all this, especially for the young, would prompt an inevitable question: Why would anyone fight to save this place? Who needs it? If I were 12 and watched, I’d wonder if I had a chance here. If I were 20, they’d have flooded me with unearned bitterness. Injustice is real, history is bloody. But guys, do you ever think you’re overdoing it? Are you afraid that this is all you got? Is that why you don’t talk about policy? Peggy Noonan
This is the God’s truth. My word as a Biden. Joe Biden
Except almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect. Based on interviews with more than a dozen U.S. troops, their commanders and Biden campaign officials, it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened. (…) In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony. One element of Biden’s story is rooted in an actual event: In 2011, the vice president did pin a medal on a heartbroken soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who didn’t believe he deserved the award. (…) Biden, 76, has struggled during his presidential campaign with gaffes and misstatements that hark back to his earlier political troubles and have put a spotlight on his age. In 1987, Biden dropped out of the presidential race amid charges that he had plagiarized the speeches of a British politician and others. (…) Biden has used war stories to celebrate military sacrifice and attack Trump’s version of patriotism, built around ferocity and firepower. The former vice president, like Trump, never served in the military. But Biden’s son Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015, deployed to Iraq as an Army lawyer in 2008, and the candidate ends almost all of his speeches with the refrain: “May God protect our troops.” Embedded in Biden’s medal story are the touchstones of his long career: foreign policy expertise, patriotism and perseverance through grief. Biden’s first public recounting of his trip to Konar province, made shortly after his return in early 2008, was largely true, but not nearly as emotionally fraught as the versions he would later tell on the campaign trail. (…) Biden seemed to stop telling the story until the summer of 2016, when the presidential campaign was in full swing and Trump was surging to the top of the polls. In July of that year, he told it at a World War II ceremony in Australia. In this version, Foltz, a young soldier, had been replaced by the apocryphal and much older Navy captain who in Biden’s telling “climbed down about 200 feet” into a ravine and retrieved his wounded friend who died. The Bronze Star was upgraded to a Silver Star. This time, Biden said he was the one who pinned the medal on the officer, not the general. “Sir, with all due respect, I do not want it,” Biden recalled the officer saying. Months later, as the angry and divisive 2016 presidential campaign kicked into high gear, Biden’s story of the medal ceremony grew more harrowing and less accurate. He told it at an October rally for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in response to comments from Trump suggesting that some troops weren’t mentally strong enough to handle the rigors of combat. (…) This time, Biden shifted the setting from Afghanistan to Iraq. Instead of rappelling down a ravine, an Army captain pulled a dead soldier out of a burning Humvee. (…) The Pentagon has no record of an Army captain receiving a Silver Star in Iraq during the time period Biden describes. Three weeks later, stumping for Jason Kander, an Afghan War veteran running for the Senate in Missouri, Biden told both the Iraq and Afghanistan versions back to back in a single speech. (…) Then, on Friday, came New Hampshire. The setting was a town hall meeting about health care. Someone asked a question about mental health and Biden started talking about post-traumatic stress disorder and the heavy toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (…) Then Biden told the latest, and perhaps most inaccurate, version of his Afghanistan story. “I’ve been in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq over 30 times,” he said. (His campaign later clarified that the correct number is 21.) He talked about Konar province, the Navy captain — “Navy, Navy” he repeated for emphasis — the deep ravine, the dead friend and the moment of reckoning when Biden pinned the medal on the officer’s uniform. The Washington Post
Une étude irlandaise publiée dans la revue Psychological Science offre cependant un aperçu terrifiant de la facilité avec laquelle nous pouvons être manipulés et de la difficulté pour beaucoup d’entre nous de distinguer réalité et fiction. (…) Ce qui est plus terrifiant, cependant, c’est que les gens étaient beaucoup plus susceptibles de se souvenir de fausses informations si celles-ci correspondaient à leurs opinions politiques. Et cela était vrai quelle que soit leur position: ceux qui soutenaient la légalisation de l’avortement, par exemple, étaient plus susceptibles de se souvenir des détails faux et incendiaires sur les personnes du contingent anti-choix, tandis que les personnes qui étaient contre la légalisation de l’avortement étaient plus susceptibles de se souvenir de détails faux et incendiaires sur ceux qui soutenaient la légalisation. En d’autres termes, les gens se souvenaient des informations qui confirmaient déjà leur point de vue, peu importe si cette information était vraie ou non – et ce qui est pire, même après que les chercheurs leur ont dit que certains des reportages étaient faux, ils n’arrivaient pas à identifier correctement lesquels. Les implications de cette étude sont claires: non seulement il est extrêmement facile pour les mauvais acteurs de manipuler les gens en exploitant leurs préjugés, mais il n’est pas non plus facile pour les gens de réajuster leurs perspectives après avoir été manipulés, même si on leur a explicitement dit que c’était le cas. Rolling Stone
Il est trop tôt pour dire ce qui ressortira de l’actuelle vague de violences liée à la mort de George Floyd. On sait en revanche que l’histoire récente n’a pas été particulièrement tendre envers les mouvements militants qui tentent de lutter contre le racisme. Les méthodes défendues par l’une de leurs figures les plus célèbres, Martin Luther King, ont abouti à l’adoption du Civil Rights Act en 1964 et du Voting Rights Act en 1965, deux des plus grandes lois de l’histoire américaine. À l’inverse, l’évolution du mouvement Black Power a conduit à son implosion, ses principaux représentants finissant en exil, en prison ou victimes de rivalités internes meurtrières. Si le mouvement avait su s’attirer quelques sympathies chez les Blancs, celles-ci ont rapidement disparu après les émeutes de Détroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles et plusieurs autres grandes métropoles. De même qu’aujourd’hui avec le mouvement Black Lives Matter, le renforcement d’une identité de groupe associée aux militants noirs a été suivi par un retour de bâton avec la résurgence des suprémacistes blancs et l’émergence des skinheads dans les années 1970 et 1980. Il n’est pas besoin de lire des articles universitaires pour comprendre que les manifestations pacifiques pour les droits civiques ont mieux réussi que les violences. Un chercheur de Princeton vient néanmoins d’en publier un qui mérite lecture. Dans un article paru le mois dernier dans l’American Political Science Review, Omar Wasow, professeur adjoint en sciences politiques, décrit les résultats d’un projet de recherche entamé il y a quinze ans sur les conséquences politiques des manifestations. Omar Wasow, qui est noir, a étudié les manifestations de militants noirs entre 1960 et 1972 aux États-Unis et découvert que les “tactiques employées” pouvaient faire toute la différence pour faire avancer une cause : Les manifestations non violentes ont joué un rôle essentiel pour faire pencher la balance politique nationale en faveur des droits civiques. Les mouvements dans lesquels étaient lancées des violences parvenaient à des résultats diamétralement opposés aux revendications des manifestants.” Après les incidents survenus lors des manifestations liées à la mort de George Floyd lors de son interpellation par la police, le président Trump a clairement annoncé que “l’ordre public” serait un de ses thèmes de campagne, et les travaux de Wasow apportent des éléments de réponse quant à l’efficacité de cette stratégie. Dans un récent entretien avec le New Yorker, Wasow déclare avoir découvert “un lien de causalité entre les manifestations violentes” survenues après l’assassinat de Martin Luther King en avril 1968 et “le rejet du parti démocrate”. Plus spécifiquement, “dans les circonscriptions proches des violences, Nixon a enregistré des résultats supérieurs de 6 à 8 points de pourcentage lors de l’élection”. (…) La semaine dernière, le Wall Street Journal indiquait que, selon son dernier sondage mené en collaboration avec NBC News, 80 % des électeurs avaient actuellement “le sentiment que la situation dans le pays échappait de plus en plus à tout contrôle”. La question est de savoir si Joe Biden et les démocrates aideront Donald Trump en permettant aux manifestants violents de devenir le visage de leur parti et en cédant aux demandes de plus en plus absurdes des progressistes radicaux. Donald Trump est peut-être impopulaire, mais les pillages et le déboulonnage des statues le sont tout autant, de même que l’arrêt du financement de la police ou le fait de laisser des militants armés radicaux s’emparer de quartiers entiers. La gauche devrait également veiller à ne pas croire que les électeurs noirs dont elle aura massivement besoin dans cinq mois seront convaincus par un tel programme. Dans un mémo de 1970 adressé au président Nixon, son conseiller Daniel Patrick Moynihan notait qu’il “existe une majorité silencieuse chez les Noirs comme chez les Blancs” et que les deux partageaient “essentiellement les mêmes préoccupations”. Ce qui était vrai il y a cinquante ans l’est toujours aujourd’hui. La plupart des Noirs savent que George Floyd n’est pas plus représentatif de leur communauté que Derek Chauvin ne l’est des policiers. Ils savent que la fréquence des contacts entre Noirs et policiers a beaucoup plus à voir avec le taux de criminalité chez les Noirs américains qu’avec le fait que les policiers seraient racistes. Ils savent que les jeunes hommes noirs ont bien plus à craindre de leurs pairs que des forces de police. Et ils savent que les émeutiers sont des opportunistes et non des révolutionnaires. Il est parfaitement légitime d’ouvrir un débat national sur la façon d’améliorer les méthodes de la police, mais aujourd’hui la conversation en vient à accuser les forces de police d’être responsables des inégalités sociales, ce qui n’est pas seulement illogique mais dangereux. La criminalité dans les quartiers fait obstacle à l’ascension sociale. Toute conversation ne reconnaissant pas cette réalité ne mérite pas d’avoir lieu. Jason L. Riley
These ad hominem attacks by a previous president on his successor are unique in my lifetime. Perhaps they are unique in modern American history. George W. Bush, for example, never said a critical word of Barack Obama, despite the latter’s frequent attacks on Bush’s presidency. (…) America ranks tenth in deaths per million. Are the greater proportion of deaths per million in countries such as Belgium, Spain, the U.K., Italy and Sweden the result of corrupt and/or inept leaders? Was President Donald Trump responsible, for example, for the decision made by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to order nursing homes to accept COVID-19 cases, causing the virus to sweep through the elderly in those facilities, resulting in at least 6,000 deaths (and likely many more that New York is hiding from the official count)? Regarding « millions of jobs gone, » they are gone overwhelmingly because of the lockdowns ordered by state governors and mayors, not the virus. Lockdowns, we were told, would last two weeks to « flatten the curve, » but they continue six months later in many Democratically controlled cities and states. (…) Obama offers not one example of this or of his many other attacks on Trump. There is a reason. Obama has always attacked straw men. During his presidency, I analyzed about 20 of his speeches. They and his off-the-cuff comments were always characterized by straw-men arguments. Even The New York Times, in 2009, when it still published occasional articles that deviated from the left, featured an article by Helene Cooper (who is black), its then-White House correspondent, titled « Some Obama Enemies Are Made Totally of Straw. » In it, Cooper cited example after example of statements ostensibly made by others, but actually made up by Obama — which he then proceeded to shoot down. This characterized his approach to discourse throughout his presidency and continued with last week’s speech at the DNC. (…) Obama, like all on the left, equate America’s « standing in the world » with its president’s standing with the left. Nonleftists do not. Last year, when the courageous Hong Kong demonstrators waved a flag representing liberty, they waved the flag of the United States of America. Apparently, America’s standing with them is pretty high. (…) Who doesn’t believe « the right to vote is sacred » — those who insist on people having an ID when they vote, as voters do in virtually every other country? Or is it those who don’t believe in sending tens of millions of ballots to people who never signed up to receive an absentee ballot? (…) What new legal immigrant thinks that way? Or is Obama dishonestly conflating legal with illegal immigrants? The answer is, of course, he is (though even illegal immigrants apparently believe there’s a place for them here; isn’t that, after all, why they come?). (…) How has this administration shown that? Why didn’t Obama provide a single example to sustain this extraordinary charge? Anyway, it seems to many Americans that those who lie to the country for two years about Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, impeach a president solely for political reasons, dedicate all news reporting to the removal of a president, smear and lie about a decent man nominated for the Supreme Court, corrupt the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act system for political ends, and politicize the CIA and FBI are the ones who « will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win. » Obama’s speech offered very little of substance about the man it was directed against, but it said much about the man who delivered it. Dennis Prager (25.08.2020)
Mr Biden criticised President Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak saying he had failed to protect American people. The US does have the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, with more than 5.5 million confirmed cases and 174,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. It also has a larger population than many other countries. If you look at deaths per capita – as a proportion of each country’s population – the US is no longer top of the list but remains in the top 10 worst hit countries. The US has recorded more than 52 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people – according to Johns Hopkins University – but there are a handful of countries that have recorded more on this measurement, including the UK and Italy. It is worth remembering that there are differences in how countries count coronavirus deaths, making exact comparisons difficult. (…) « More than 50 million people have filed for unemployment this year. » Mr Biden was talking about the impact of the pandemic on the US economy. The 50 million figure is right and is based on the total number of Americans who have filed jobless claims since the virus struck, according to US Labor Department statistics. The number of people currently claiming unemployment benefits is 14.8 million, according to the latest release of weekly figures. It has been declining since May, when there were more than 20 million claims. The unemployment rate is still much higher than pre-pandemic levels and currently stands at 10.2%. Mr Biden also said: « Nearly one in six small businesses have closed this year. » But a recent survey of small business owners in the US suggested that only 1% of small businesses had closed permanently by mid-July this year. A further 12% said they had closed temporarily, but even accounting for these it is less than the one in six Mr Biden claimed. (…) Mr Biden said one of his goals would be to « wipe out the stain of racism » and he recalled the far-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 which led to violent clashes and left one counter-protester dead. He said: « Remember what the President said when asked, he said there were, quote, very fine people on both sides ». Mr Biden said that after this moment « I knew I had to run » for president. According to a transcript of a press conference on 15 August, President Trump did say – when asked about the presence of neo-Nazis at the rally – « you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. » During the same press conference, Mr Trump went on to say « I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. » BBC
Now officially the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden offered himself to Americans this week as an affable, trustworthy and experienced alternative for the White House. But his five-decade record in politics offers plenty of controversies ranging from insulting confrontations over IQ and race to fabrications and plagiarism. (…) Biden once sparred in 1987 with a political reporter who asked him about his law school record. A tart Biden responded that he “probably” had a “higher IQ” than the reporter. And he claimed he finished in the top half of his class. It was later revealed that Biden was near the bottom of his law school graduating class at Syracuse University’s College of Law, specifically 76 out of 85 students. Biden also admitted that he had plagiarized during his first year at the institution. “I was mistaken, but I was not in any way malevolent,” Biden explained. The plagiarism tag would follow him into politics. Eventually it was also revealed that Biden had used quotes in speeches as a U.S. senator from Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy and Neil Kinnock, a British Labour Party leader, without any attribution. Earlier this year, he faced plagiarism again when it was revealed his 2020 climate plan lifted some passages from other documents without attribution. The campaign corrected the error. In 1987, Biden said he marched during the civil rights movement but some media outlets pointed out that was not the case. (…) These controversies eventually forced Biden from the 1988 presidential race in September 1987 (…) Biden has repeated the claim that he was involved in civil rights activism during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary on a few occasions. And his some of the most awkward apologies he’s been forced to make involve the issue of race. During his 2008 run for president, Biden apologized for referring to his then-rival Sen. Barack Obama as « the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. » It didn’t go unnoticed. While campaigning in New Hampshire, Biden told a supporter that « You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent” in Delaware. And in May of this year, Biden told radio host Charlamagne the God, « You ain’t black » if you vote against him, which sparked controversy. He later apologized for that statement too. Exaggerations have also been flagged several times in his career. During a presidential primary debate in 2007, for instance, Biden revealed that he had been “shot at” while visiting Iraq. When records conflicted with his account, he later changed his story. In 2019 during Biden’s Democratic primary run, the Washington Post reported that the former vice president told a fake war story on the campaign trail. Politifact rated the story he told as false. Biden has dismissed the criticism. In March of this year, Biden claimed he was arrested in South Africa while trying to see the anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. His campaign later said it didn’t happen after the U.S. ambassador who was with him on the trip said the arrest story wasn’t true. Nicholas Ballasy
Today Forbes estimates Biden, 76, and his wife Jill are worth $9 million. Their fortune includes two Delaware homes valued at $4 million combined, cash and investments worth another $4 million or so, and a federal pension worth more than $1 million. Biden’s father, Joe Sr., was raised in a life of privilege, complete with polo matches and hunting trips in the Adirondacks, thanks to the lucrative career of his own father, Joseph, who ran a division of American Oil. But Biden’s dad failed in his own early business ventures, which included a Boston real estate deal and a crop-dusting effort, leaving the family “broke,” according to Joe Biden’s 2007 memoir, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics. The family relocated to an apartment in Wilmington, Delaware, when Joe Biden was 10. His father eventually found work selling cars. Forbes
As we enter the final 90 days of the November presidential campaign, a few truths are crystalizing about the “Biden problem,” or the inability of a 77-year-old Joe Biden to conduct a “normal” campaign. Biden’s cognitive challenges are increasing geometrically, whether as a result of months of relative inactivity and lack of stimulation or just consistent with the medical trajectory of his affliction. (…) Biden (…) is one of the few primary candidates in history who promised in advance to pick a running mate on the basis of gender and, as events would dictate, and by inference, race as well. (…) the Democratic ticket is a construct, with no visible or viable presidential candidate. While traditional polls show asizable Biden lead, at some point voters will want more than the current contest of Trump alone versus the media, the virus, the lockdown, the economy, and the rioting. But so far, it remains a one-person race, in the fashion of Clint Eastwood’s weird 2012 Republican National Convention appearance speaking to an empty cha. So we are witnessing a campaign never before experienced in American history and not entirely attributable to the plague and quarantine. After all, the fellow septuagenarian Trump, with his own array of medical challenges, insists upon frenetic and near-constant public appearances. His opponent is a noncandidate conducting a noncampaign that demands we ask the question, who exactly is drafting the Biden agenda and strategy? Or, rather, who or what is Biden, if not a composite cat’s paw of an anonymous left-wing central committee? When Biden speaks for more than a few minutes without a script or a minder in his basement, the results are often racist of the sort in the Black Lives Matter era that otherwise would be rightly damned and called out as disqualifying. If his inner racialist persona continues to surface, Biden’s insensitivities threaten to expose a muzzled BLM as a mere transparent effort to grab power rather than to address “systemic racism” of the sort the exempt Biden seems to exude. Biden needs the minority vote in overwhelming numbers, as he realized in his late comeback in the primaries. But the continuance of his often angry, unapologetic racialist nonsense suggests that his cognitive issues trump his political sense of self-control. The inner Biden at 77 is turning out to be an unabashed bigot in the age of “cancel culture” and thought crimes that has apparently declared him immune from the opprobrium reserved for any such speech. For Biden, if any African American doesn’t vote for him, then “you ain’t black”—a charge fired back at black podcaster with near venom. Biden more calmly assures us, in his all-knowing Bideneque wisdom, that Americans can’t tell Asians in general apart—channeling the ancient racist trope that “they all look alike.” In his scrambled sociology, blacks are unimaginatively monolithic politically, while Latinos are diverse and more flexible. Biden seems to have no notion that “Latino” is a sort of construct to encompass everyone from a Brazilian aristocrat to an immigrant from the state of Oaxaca, and not comparable to the more inclusive and precise term “African American.” Moreover, while the black leadership in Congress may be politically monolithic, there are millions of blacks who oppose abortion, defunding the police, and illegal immigration. The best minds of the conservative intellectual and political movement so often are African Americans. When asked questions, Biden’s answers so often reveal racist subtexts. A few days ago, CBS reporter Errol Barnett, who is black, asked Biden whether he would take a cognitive assessment exam. Biden fired back to him that such an unfair question would be as if he had asked Barnett whether he was getting tested for cocaine before going live. “That’s like saying,” a perturbed Biden exclaimed to Barnett, “before you got on this program, you’re taking a test whether you’re taking cocaine or not . . . What do you think, huh? Are you a junkie?” Note the tell-tale Biden trademark of racist insinuation delivered with punk-like braggadocio. Note, too, Biden’s racist assumption that an African American professional journalist might be likely to be defensive about being a cocaine addict. Yet Biden should know—from the drug struggles of Hunter Biden—that cocaine is in fact the favorite drug of the white elite. The problem is that in the past, a cognizant Biden was already racially edgy with his various earlier-career riffs about inner-city criminals, blue-collar chest-thumping about busing, and his more recent ideas about donut shops, accomplished black professionals on the verge of returning to slave status (“put y’all back in chains”), his racist descriptions of candidate Obama’s supposedly exceptional personal hygiene and ability to speak well, his corn-pop braggadocio, and on and on. His mental lapses now serve as force multipliers and accelerants of the old Biden’s foot-in-mouth disease and render him often a caricature of a racist. Politically, the point is not that he will not win the majority of minority voters, but rather that he won’t win enough of them at a margin necessary that carrying large swing-state cities such as Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, and others, will make up for the likely loss of rural areas and working-class whites, supposedly the “clingers” that “good ’ole Joe from Scranton” was supposed to own. Even more disturbing, the media simply is unconcerned about Biden’s racial putdowns, stereotyping, and uncomfortableness with the proverbial “other.” And the more the inner-Biden racialist sounds off, the more ridiculous such contextualizing becomes and the less people listen when journalists and activists spout off about a systemically racist America. Recently, when Biden has attempted to speak without prompts, indeed to clear up “rumors” of his cognitive problems, he simply loses his train of thought and utters a series of unstructured and unsettled thoughts that refute the very premise of his interview. The understandable Democratic strategy is to run out the clock and to choreograph a few post-Labor Day public appearances, to outsource campaigning to his running mate and future cabinet secretaries, and then to hope, in the manner of a 2016 Hillary Clinton, that he has amassed a large enough September lead to outlast a closing October Trump campaign. There are problems with such a strategy, as we saw in 2016. If Biden late in the campaign stumbles in the debates, there is no post-convention remedy to reassure the public he is compos mentis or otherwise can be replaced by a majority consensus. Then the country would be entering something eerily similar to, but far graver than, the McGovern debacle of desperately looking for a new running mate after it was disclosed that an apparently perfectly cognizant Tom Eagleton—his running-mate for 18 days—had undergone two electric shock treatments in his past as well as undisclosed prior hospitalizations for bipolar disorder. Right now, the Democrats have a virtual campaign and a virtual candidate and a strategy of running against the Trump news cycle. That may work, but it assumes Americans under quarantine don’t mind that they do not really know who is the Democratic challenger, or that Biden is, in fact, not physically or mentally able to function as either a candidate or president. It also assumes that the Trump-owned news cycle will remain as dismal over the next three months as it has the last five or six weeks, and that the virus will spike in late October again, rather than slowly burn out as it seems to be doing in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe. Add it all up and the question is no longer whether Biden could fulfill the duties of the presidency but whether he can finish a traditional campaign over the next three months—without outsourcing his duties to a committee, or serially saying something blatantly racist, or simply disappearing to the nether world of his basement where saying nothing beats saying anything. Victor Davis Hanson
Only in a place as removed from reality as the Beltway could a man who has spent more than three decades in the United States Senate be hailed as a working-class stiff. According to his most recent disclosure forms, Mr. Biden’s income includes his Senate salary of $165,200 and a teaching stipend of $20,500 from Widener University. On top of this, he received $112,500 as the second half of a book advance. Even allowing for generous deductions, Mr. Biden’s income comfortably locates him in the top 5% of American taxpayers. The Senate disclosure forms do not require Mr. Biden to report his primary residence (or his federal pension). So I asked Jim Bowers — an old college roommate of mine who also lives in Delaware, who also went to the same high school, and who is also running for election. « Not many lunch buckets up Joe’s way, » says Mr. Bowers, a Republican seeking a seat in Delaware’s House of Representatives. « You have to remember that the senator lives in an area known as ‘chateau country.' » Now, there’s no crime against having a top income, or a big house in a ritzy neighborhood. But it does make the whole lunch-bucket thing a little more sticky. And it confirms two truths about class in modern America. First, in Washington you are permitted to enjoy wealth without ever being called wealthy provided simply that you haven’t actually earned it in some unseemly way — by, say, building up a business. Second, even when Americans do well, we prefer not to define our class by where we rank on the economic scale. Instead, we classify ourselves by where our parents and grandparents were on that scale 50 years ago. Notwithstanding Mr. Biden’s moving references to Scranton, he moved out of that gritty city back at the beginning of the Eisenhower administration. The assumption behind the lunch-bucket imagery, of course, is that Mr. Biden’s « working-class roots » gives him an advantage in any debate. I’m not so sure. Sarah Palin — governor of Alaska and Mr. Biden’s rival for vice president — looks like a woman who can hold her own on issues that speak to hard work and upward mobility. Ms. Palin might, for example, point out that while the Senate offers members like Mr. Biden a generous pension, he opposes private Social Security accounts that would give the same to, say, a nurse. Or that while Mr. Biden and Barack Obama have chosen upscale private schools for their own children, they are reluctant to support efforts that would help inner-city moms and dads do the same for their children. Or that Mr. Biden not only opposes drilling today, in 1973 he voted against the Trans-Alaska pipeline that provides oil for American consumers — and jobs for American workers. Let’s be fair. Mr. Biden has a lovely family. He gave his children a good, private education. He lives in a big house in an exclusive neighborhood. It speaks well of him that he returns to Wilmington each night instead of staying in Washington. But it would still be refreshing if at least once we could read an account that called him what he actually is: a « chateau country Democrat. William McGurn
Despite all of his many years in public life, it still isn’t clear what kind of President Mr. Biden would make. Let’s assume that the gilded testimonials to Mr. Biden’s personal character at this week’s Democratic convention are true. He is by all accounts a nice guy. He cares about people, powerful or not. He can forge alliances across the aisle. He does not kick down at adversaries, at least most of the time. “Character is on the ballot,” as he put it Thursday night. In other words, he’s running as Not Donald J. Trump. In the best case, Mr. Biden is asking Americans to believe that he would take these personal qualities to the White House and mediate policy disputes, calm the culture wars, and work with both parties to break America’s partisan fever. He’d do the same on the world stage, defending U.S. interests without bullying allies and leading international coalitions anew. After the disruptions of the Trump era, this political idyll sounds inviting. Mr. Biden would certainly have the media and the institutions of American culture on his side, so the daily pitched battles of the last four years would be muted, at least for a time. Yet there’s cause to doubt this happily-ever-after-Trump scenario—and the reasons include the man and the times. Regarding the man, Mr. Biden has never been a politician of strong political convictions. He’s a professional partisan Democrat whose beliefs have shifted as the party’s have. Nearly all successful presidential candidates put their own political and policy stamps on their party and the times. Bill Clinton was a New Democrat who would reform welfare, George W. Bush was a compassionate conservative, and Barack Obama was a multiracial uniter who’d transcend red and blue state differences. Donald Trump was the populist disrupter of the establishment. Mr. Biden has no such defining message. Can you think of a single policy, or even a phrase, that identifies what he has stood for in this campaign? The closest might have been a return to normalcy. But sometime in recent months that gave way to the party’s desire for transformational economic and social change. More than any recent presidential nominee, Mr. Biden is more figurehead than party leader. He was the fail-safe choice, the last-ditch savior in South Carolina, after Bernie Sanders looked like he could run the primary table. Mr. Biden was lifted by his party’s elites. He owes them more than they owe him. All of which leads to doubts that Mr. Biden would govern like the moderate of Milwaukee’s virtual convention. (…) But if Mr. Biden wins by his current polling margin, a Democratic sweep of Congress is far more likely. How probable would it be that Mr. Biden would be able to control, or want to control, the progressive ambitions of House and Senate Democrats and the institutional left? There is reason for pessimism from the evidence of his long career. He opposed taxpayer funding for abortion for four decades until he reversed himself last year. In the 1990s he led the fight for a crime bill that he now disavows as he finds America guilty of systemic racism. Before Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court, Mr. Biden said he’d probably have to vote for him because of his qualifications. Then Ted Kennedy launched a tirade against the jurist. Mr. Biden, running the Judiciary Committee at the time, fell in line. When Anita Hill made charges against Clarence Thomas only days before a scheduled confirmation vote, Mr. Biden folded under pressure and called hearings that became a spectacle. Justice Thomas was confirmed, as he should have been, but last year Mr. Biden loudly apologized to Ms. Hill and Democrats for not doing more in opposition. As his polling lead has grown, Mr. Biden has said the 60-vote filibuster rule in the Senate might have to go, which would forestall the need for compromise. He has moved left since the primaries, absorbing Bernie Sanders’s priorities on student debt and much of the Green New Deal. His choice of California Senator Kamala Harris as running mate was a bow to the party’s desire for a progressive as his likely successor. (…) As for foreign policy, he supported the invasion of Iraq in 2002 while chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Then he flipped when most Democrats did and as the fighting became difficult. Then he opposed the 2007 Iraq surge, saying it would fail. Then in 2011 he supported Barack Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq that set the stage for the rise of Islamic State. He opposed the raid on Osama bin Laden. Misjudgments on hard questions are inevitable, and every President makes them. But one test of political character is the willingness to stand up to pressure and make hard choices even when they’re politically unpopular. Mr. Biden has no record of doing so. Some readers may think it rude to say this, but Mr. Biden’s health and mental acuity are also relevant as he soon turns 78. His ability to recall names and events has clearly deteriorated. This may be the normal decline that comes with age, and he delivered his speech well. But his advisers don’t inspire confidence by keeping the candidate from any but the friendliest media questioners. They owe it to the country to let him show his stamina and fitness from now to Election Day. Even if his health holds, Mr. Biden would almost certainly be a one-term President. (…) Character counts in a President, as we learned long before Donald Trump sat in the Oval Office. But so do policies and political fortitude. The Wall Street Journal

Quel meilleur argument pour la réélection du président Trump ?

Faux prolétaire et vieux rentier de la politique, plagiaire multirécidiviste et gaffeur invétéré, mains baladeuses voire prédateur sexuel, vieux gâteux à la limite de la sénilité et notoire baratineur et affabulateur

Y a-t-il une faute …

En ces temps de politiquement correct et de fact-checking toujours plus sourcilleux …

Que n’aurait pas commise le candidat démocrate censé nous débarrasser du méchant Trump ?

Au lendemain d’une convention démocrate …

Qui pour dénoncer les prétendus manquements de l’actuel président Donald Trump …

Eclipsant ce faisant probablement, avec l’accord Abraham entre Israël et les Emirats arabes unis, le plus grand triomphe de la diplomatie américaine des 50 dernières années …

A du candidat lui-même à l’ancien président Barack Obama et sa femme Michelle

Multiplié les contre-vérités et mensonges …

Accusant tour à tour et contre toute évidence, en l’un des pays les plus peuplés et les plus fédéralistes du monde, l’actuel président du pire bilan du coronavirus de la planète …

Et qui pour vanter les prétendus mérites d’un candidat du retour à la normalité …

Promoteur qui plus est d’une loi contre les violences faites aux femmes …

Fait totalement l’impasse, entre le Moraliste en chef Bill Clinton et des médias complices, sur des décennies d’accusations de harcèlement sexuel contre lui …

Comment ne pas douter avec le dernier éditorial du Wall Street Journal

A l’instar des sondages eux-mêmes dont les écarts logiquement se resserrent …

De cette image de Joe le Gentil et de Joe le prolo

Comme de par sa prétendue naissance dans les milieux ouvriers de l’état-clé de Pennsylvanie …

Alors qu’avant d’avoir ruiné sa famille, son père avait vécu, entre matches de polo et parties de chasse, dans la plus grande opulence d’un père cadre supérieur d’un grand groupe pétrolier …

Et qu’entre l’Ukraine et la Chine, son fils a largement profité, pour se remplir les poches, de son nom de famille …

Pour un vieux et si chiraquien cheval de retour qui, depuis près de 50 ans et entre deux désatreuses primaires démocrates, hante les allées du pouvoir …

Le tout sans jamais démontrer la moindre conviction …

Champion de la lutte contre la criminalité dans les années 90 …

Pour laquelle, émeutes et déboulonnages de Black Lives Matter obligent, il vient de s’excuser …

Qui choisi pour sa prétendue expérience de politique étrangère à la tête de la commission des Affaires étrangères du Sénat …

S’était opposé dès 91 à la première Guerre du Golfe pour soutenir la deuxième en 2002 …

Puis s’empressa de la rejeter quand les choses devinrent difficiles …

Et qui après s’être opposé à la contre-insurrection de 2007 puis félicité du retour au calme de 2008 …

A soutenu, avant de s’opposer à l’élimination de Ben Laden, le retrait catastrophique d’Obama de 2010 comme l’accord désastreux avec l’Iran …

Et qui aujourd’hui maitre démagogue, gaffeur et plagiaire, derrière son image de centriste depuis le début de la campagne …

N’arrête pas entre deux insultes aux minorités ou aux ouvriers et sans compter, entre deux ruptures d’anévrisme et une embolie pulmonaire, les doutes sur son acuité mentale

De pencher vers la plus radicale des gauches … ?

The Joe Biden We Know

What does his long political career tell us about how he’d govern?

It took three tries and more than 30 years, but Joe Biden finally accepted the Democratic Party nomination for President Thursday evening. The moment was a personal triumph, and a credit to the former Vice President’s doggedness and the alliances he has formed over decades. Yet despite all of his many years in public life, it still isn’t clear what kind of President Mr. Biden would make.

Let’s assume that the gilded testimonials to Mr. Biden’s personal character at this week’s Democratic convention are true. He is by all accounts a nice guy. He cares about people, powerful or not. He can forge alliances across the aisle. He does not kick down at adversaries, at least most of the time. “Character is on the ballot,” as he put it Thursday night. In other words, he’s running as Not Donald J. Trump.

In the best case, Mr. Biden is asking Americans to believe that he would take these personal qualities to the White House and mediate policy disputes, calm the culture wars, and work with both parties to break America’s partisan fever. He’d do the same on the world stage, defending U.S. interests without bullying allies and leading international coalitions anew.

After the disruptions of the Trump era, this political idyll sounds inviting. Mr. Biden would certainly have the media and the institutions of American culture on his side, so the daily pitched battles of the last four years would be muted, at least for a time.

Yet there’s cause to doubt this happily-ever-after-Trump scenario—and the reasons include the man and the times. Regarding the man, Mr. Biden has never been a politician of strong political convictions. He’s a professional partisan Democrat whose beliefs have shifted as the party’s have.

Nearly all successful presidential candidates put their own political and policy stamps on their party and the times. Bill Clinton was a New Democrat who would reform welfare, George W. Bush was a compassionate conservative, and Barack Obama was a multiracial uniter who’d transcend red and blue state differences. Donald Trump was the populist disrupter of the establishment.

Mr. Biden has no such defining message. Can you think of a single policy, or even a phrase, that identifies what he has stood for in this campaign? The closest might have been a return to normalcy. But sometime in recent months that gave way to the party’s desire for transformational economic and social change.

More than any recent presidential nominee, Mr. Biden is more figurehead than party leader. He was the fail-safe choice, the last-ditch savior in South Carolina, after Bernie Sanders looked like he could run the primary table. Mr. Biden was lifted by his party’s elites. He owes them more than they owe him.

All of which leads to doubts that Mr. Biden would govern like the moderate of Milwaukee’s virtual convention. Mr. Biden would have a better chance of governing that way, ironically, if Republicans retain the Senate this year. Then compromise with Mitch McConnell would be a political necessity to get anything done.

But if Mr. Biden wins by his current polling margin, a Democratic sweep of Congress is far more likely. How probable would it be that Mr. Biden would be able to control, or want to control, the progressive ambitions of House and Senate Democrats and the institutional left?

There is reason for pessimism from the evidence of his long career. He opposed taxpayer funding for abortion for four decades until he reversed himself last year. In the 1990s he led the fight for a crime bill that he now disavows as he finds America guilty of systemic racism.

Before Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court, Mr. Biden said he’d probably have to vote for him because of his qualifications. Then Ted Kennedy launched a tirade against the jurist. Mr. Biden, running the Judiciary Committee at the time, fell in line.

When Anita Hill made charges against Clarence Thomas only days before a scheduled confirmation vote, Mr. Biden folded under pressure and called hearings that became a spectacle. Justice Thomas was confirmed, as he should have been, but last year Mr. Biden loudly apologized to Ms. Hill and Democrats for not doing more in opposition.

As his polling lead has grown, Mr. Biden has said the 60-vote filibuster rule in the Senate might have to go, which would forestall the need for compromise. He has moved left since the primaries, absorbing Bernie Sanders’s priorities on student debt and much of the Green New Deal. His choice of California Senator Kamala Harris as running mate was a bow to the party’s desire for a progressive as his likely successor. But his speech, like the convention, focused on his platform only in the most general terms, mostly with gauzy platitudes.

As for foreign policy, he supported the invasion of Iraq in 2002 while chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Then he flipped when most Democrats did and as the fighting became difficult. Then he opposed the 2007 Iraq surge, saying it would fail. Then in 2011 he supported Barack Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq that set the stage for the rise of Islamic State. He opposed the raid on Osama bin Laden.

Misjudgments on hard questions are inevitable, and every President makes them. But one test of political character is the willingness to stand up to pressure and make hard choices even when they’re politically unpopular. Mr. Biden has no record of doing so

Some readers may think it rude to say this, but Mr. Biden’s health and mental acuity are also relevant as he soon turns 78. His ability to recall names and events has clearly deteriorated. This may be the normal decline that comes with age, and he delivered his speech well. But his advisers don’t inspire confidence by keeping the candidate from any but the friendliest media questioners. They owe it to the country to let him show his stamina and fitness from now to Election Day.

Even if his health holds, Mr. Biden would almost certainly be a one-term President. This means his political capital would fall starting on Inauguration Day like a new car off the lot. Democrats would jockey to succeed him and to push the party left. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would drive policy.

These are all issues to consider as voters measure their tolerance for four more years of Mr. Trump’s behavior. Character counts in a President, as we learned long before Donald Trump sat in the Oval Office. But so do policies and political fortitude.

Voir aussi:

Joe Biden’s Class Act
William McGurn
WSJ
Sept. 2, 2008

Since Joe Biden landed on the Democratic ticket, we’ve all been treated to commentary attesting to the Lincolnesque rise of this proud son of Scranton, Pa. Here we read the references to « working-class roots. » There we see a headline trumpeting a « blue-collar messenger. » And everywhere we turn, we bump into the most treasured compound-adjective of them all: lunch-bucket.

The New York Times started it off with a column hailing this « lunch-bucket Democrat. » The Boston Globe adds ethnicity, writing about « an Irish Catholic lunch-bucket Democrat. » The Dallas Morning News emphasizes personality, celebrating a « gregarious lunch bucket Democrat » — to distinguish him, evidently, from the nongregarious variety. The Economist contributes virtue, characterizing Sen. Biden as « a perfect example of a lunch bucket Democrat made good. » And on it goes, with everyone from the Washington Post and Huffington Post to the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Associated Press serving up allusions to the senator’s lunch bucket.

A rich piece of Americana, the lunch bucket evokes coal miners toting their picks and pails to work in some Thomas Hart Benton mural. Leave aside that coal mining is probably not Mr. Biden’s favorite imagery. It’s also somewhat out of date. In class terms, the circular lunch buckets that the sons of Scranton once carried into the mines have largely yielded to Tupperware containers stacked up inside the Dunder Mifflin fridge.

It’s true that when members of Congress release their assets and incomes, Mr. Biden famously ranks near the bottom of the pile. But let’s remember that we’re talking about a pretty privileged pile. Only in a place as removed from reality as the Beltway could a man who has spent more than three decades in the United States Senate be hailed as a working-class stiff.

According to his most recent disclosure forms, Mr. Biden’s income includes his Senate salary of $165,200 and a teaching stipend of $20,500 from Widener University. On top of this, he received $112,500 as the second half of a book advance. Even allowing for generous deductions, Mr. Biden’s income comfortably locates him in the top 5% of American taxpayers.

The Senate disclosure forms do not require Mr. Biden to report his primary residence (or his federal pension). So I asked Jim Bowers — an old college roommate of mine who also lives in Delaware, who also went to the same high school, and who is also running for election. « Not many lunch buckets up Joe’s way, » says Mr. Bowers, a Republican seeking a seat in Delaware’s House of Representatives. « You have to remember that the senator lives in an area known as ‘chateau country.' »

Now, there’s no crime against having a top income, or a big house in a ritzy neighborhood. But it does make the whole lunch-bucket thing a little more sticky. And it confirms two truths about class in modern America.

First, in Washington you are permitted to enjoy wealth without ever being called wealthy provided simply that you haven’t actually earned it in some unseemly way — by, say, building up a business.

Second, even when Americans do well, we prefer not to define our class by where we rank on the economic scale. Instead, we classify ourselves by where our parents and grandparents were on that scale 50 years ago. Notwithstanding Mr. Biden’s moving references to Scranton, he moved out of that gritty city back at the beginning of the Eisenhower administration.

The assumption behind the lunch-bucket imagery, of course, is that Mr. Biden’s « working-class roots » gives him an advantage in any debate. I’m not so sure. Sarah Palin — governor of Alaska and Mr. Biden’s rival for vice president — looks like a woman who can hold her own on issues that speak to hard work and upward mobility.

Ms. Palin might, for example, point out that while the Senate offers members like Mr. Biden a generous pension, he opposes private Social Security accounts that would give the same to, say, a nurse.

Or that while Mr. Biden and Barack Obama have chosen upscale private schools for their own children, they are reluctant to support efforts that would help inner-city moms and dads do the same for their children.

Or that Mr. Biden not only opposes drilling today, in 1973 he voted against the Trans-Alaska pipeline that provides oil for American consumers — and jobs for American workers.

Let’s be fair. Mr. Biden has a lovely family. He gave his children a good, private education. He lives in a big house in an exclusive neighborhood. It speaks well of him that he returns to Wilmington each night instead of staying in Washington.

But it would still be refreshing if at least once we could read an account that called him what he actually is: a « chateau country Democrat. »

Voir également:

In 1987, Biden said publicly that he marched during the civil rights movement but later admitted he was « not an activist » and he was « not out marching.”

Nicholas Ballasy

Just the news

August 21, 2020

Now officially the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden offered himself to Americans this week as an affable, trustworthy and experienced alternative for the White House. But his five-decade record in politics offers plenty of controversies ranging from insulting confrontations over IQ and race to fabrications and plagiarism.

An episode from the first of his three runs for president provides a case study. Biden once sparred in 1987 with a political reporter who asked him about his law school record. A tart Biden responded that he “probably” had a “higher IQ” than the reporter. And he claimed he finished in the top half of his class.

It was later revealed that Biden was near the bottom of his law school graduating class at Syracuse University’s College of Law, specifically 76 out of 85 students.

Biden also admitted that he had plagiarized during his first year at the institution.

“I was mistaken, but I was not in any way malevolent,” Biden explained.

The plagiarism tag would follow him into politics. Eventually it was also revealed that Biden had used quotes in speeches as a U.S. senator from Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy and Neil Kinnock, a British Labour Party leader, without any attribution.

Earlier this year, he faced plagiarism again when it was revealed his 2020 climate plan lifted some passages from other documents without attribution. The campaign corrected the error.

In 1987, Biden said he marched during the civil rights movement but some media outlets pointed out that was not the case.

“I was not an activist,” Biden explained at a news conference at the time. “I was not out marching.”

These controversies eventually forced Biden from the 1988 presidential race in September 1987.

“Although it’s awfully clear to me what choice I have to make, I have to tell you honestly I do it with incredible reluctance and it makes me angry. I’m angry with myself for having been put in the position — put myself in the position of having to make this choice, » Biden said.

 »And I am no less frustrated at the environment of presidential politics that makes it so difficult to let the American people measure the whole Joe Biden and not just misstatements that I have made,” he added.

Biden has repeated the claim that he was involved in civil rights activism during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary on a few occasions. And his some of the most awkward apologies he’s been forced to make involve the issue of race.

During his 2008 run for president, Biden apologized for referring to his then-rival Sen. Barack Obama as « the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. » It didn’t go unnoticed.

While campaigning in New Hampshire, Biden told a supporter that « You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent” in Delaware.

And in May of this year, Biden told radio host Charlamagne the God, « You ain’t black » if you vote against him, which sparked controversy. He later apologized for that statement too.

Exaggerations have also been flagged several times in his career.

During a presidential primary debate in 2007, for instance, Biden revealed that he had been “shot at” while visiting Iraq. When records conflicted with his account, he later changed his story.

In 2019 during Biden’s Democratic primary run, the Washington Post reported that the former vice president told a fake war story on the campaign trail. Politifact rated the story he told as false. Biden has dismissed the criticism. 

In March of this year, Biden claimed he was arrested in South Africa while trying to see the anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. His campaign later said it didn’t happen after the U.S. ambassador who was with him on the trip said the arrest story wasn’t true.

The Week in Patriarchy is a weekly roundup of what’s happening in the world of feminism and sexism. If you’re not already receiving it by email, make sure to subscribe.Why are sexual assault and misbehaviour allegations against Biden being ignored?
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has been accused of sexual assault by a former staffer. Tara Reade, who worked with Biden when he was a Delaware senator, alleges he inappropriately touched her and penetrated her with his fingers without consent in 1993.“It happened all at once, and then … his hands were on me and underneath my clothes,” Reade recalled in an interview with podcast host Katie Halper on Wednesday. “He said ‘come on, man, I heard you liked me. For me, it was like, everything shattered … I wanted to be a senator; I didn’t want to sleep with one.”Rightwing news outlets have gleefully seized upon the accusations against Biden; the story has also been discussed by leftwing commentators. However, the mainstream media has largely ignored the allegations. Instead there have been headlines like The top 10 women Joe Biden might pick as VP (CNN) and Joe Biden’s inner circle: No longer a boy’s club (AP).It is hugely frustrating to see conservatives, who couldn’t give a damn about the multiple sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump, weaponize the accusations against Biden. However, it’s also frustrating to see so many liberals turning a blind eye. The accusations against the former vice-president are serious; why aren’t they being taken seriously?One obvious reason is that Reade’s accusations are very hard to prove. The incident happened a long time ago and there weren’t any witnesses. Reade also gave a slightly different version of events last year; she accused Biden of touching her neck and shoulders in a way that was inappropriate and uncomfortable, but did not say anything sexual took place. This inconsistency obviously doesn’t mean she’s lying; unfortunately, it is easy to use against her.Reade’s story may be impossible to verify, but this is the case with the vast majority of sexual assault allegations. It is nearly always a case of “he said, she said” – and it is nearly always the “he’ that is automatically believed. The #MeToo mantra “Believe Women” doesn’t mean that women never lie; it means that our systems of power are biased towards believing men never lie. It means that it takes decades of allegations and scores of women coming forward for powerful men like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Cosby to be brought to justice. All the mantra means is that you shouldn’t automatically disbelieve women.You know who has talked publicly about the importance of taking women seriously? Biden. During the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Biden stood up for Dr Christine Blasey Ford, noting: “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.”Does this presumption not apply when the guy being accused is a Democrat running for president? It would seem that way. In January, according to reporting from the Intercept, Reade asked for help from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which has supported accusers of high-profile people like Weinstein. Reade was reportedly told by the National Women’s Law Center, the organization within which the Time’s Up fund is housed, that it couldn’t assist with accusations against a presidential candidate because it would jeopardize their non-profit status. The Intercept further notes that “the public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign”.

There are some people who will insist that drawing attention to the new allegations against Biden is playing into the Republicans’ hands. That it will destroy Biden’s campaign and guarantee us four more years of Trump. Not only is that argument hypocritical, it is also hugely unlikely that Reade’s accusations will do any damage whatsoever to Biden’s ambitions. Allegations of sexual assault certainly haven’t posed any hindrance to Trump. The allegations against Kavanaugh didn’t stop him from becoming a supreme court justice. The allegations against Louis CK didn’t kill his career in comedy. And the multiple women who have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately in the past haven’t exactly derailed his career.

Voir de même:

Why has the media ignored sexual assault and misbehaviour allegations against Biden?

Conservatives who didn’t care about the multiple sexual assault allegations against Trump have seized on the accusations while liberals turn a blind eye
Arwa Mahdawi
The Guardian
28 Mar 2020

Why are sexual assault and misbehaviour allegations against Biden being ignored?

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has been accused of sexual assault by a former staffer. Tara Reade, who worked with Biden when he was a Delaware senator, alleges he inappropriately touched her and penetrated her with his fingers without consent in 1993.

“It happened all at once, and then … his hands were on me and underneath my clothes,” Reade recalled in an interview with podcast host Katie Halper on Wednesday. “He said ‘come on, man, I heard you liked me. For me, it was like, everything shattered … I wanted to be a senator; I didn’t want to sleep with one.”

Rightwing news outlets have gleefully seized upon the accusations against Biden; the story has also been discussed by leftwing commentators. However, the mainstream media has largely ignored the allegations. Instead there have been headlines like The top 10 women Joe Biden might pick as VP (CNN) and Joe Biden’s inner circle: No longer a boy’s club (AP).

It is hugely frustrating to see conservatives, who couldn’t give a damn about the multiple sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump, weaponize the accusations against Biden. However, it’s also frustrating to see so many liberals turning a blind eye. The accusations against the former vice-president are serious; why aren’t they being taken seriously?

One obvious reason is that Reade’s accusations are very hard to prove. The incident happened a long time ago and there weren’t any witnesses. Reade also gave a slightly different version of events last year; she accused Biden of touching her neck and shoulders in a way that was inappropriate and uncomfortable, but did not say anything sexual took place. This inconsistency obviously doesn’t mean she’s lying; unfortunately, it is easy to use against her.

Reade’s story may be impossible to verify, but this is the case with the vast majority of sexual assault allegations. It is nearly always a case of “he said, she said” – and it is nearly always the “he’ that is automatically believed. The #MeToo mantra “Believe Women” doesn’t mean that women never lie; it means that our systems of power are biased towards believing men never lie. It means that it takes decades of allegations and scores of women coming forward for powerful men like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Cosby to be brought to justice. All the mantra means is that you shouldn’t automatically disbelieve women.

You know who has talked publicly about the importance of taking women seriously? Biden. During the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Biden stood up for Dr Christine Blasey Ford, noting: “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.”

Does this presumption not apply when the guy being accused is a Democrat running for president? It would seem that way. In January, according to reporting from the Intercept, Reade asked for help from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which has supported accusers of high-profile people like Weinstein. Reade was reportedly told by the National Women’s Law Center, the organization within which the Time’s Up fund is housed, that it couldn’t assist with accusations against a presidential candidate because it would jeopardize their non-profit status. The Intercept further notes that “the public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign”.

There are some people who will insist that drawing attention to the new allegations against Biden is playing into the Republicans’ hands. That it will destroy Biden’s campaign and guarantee us four more years of Trump. Not only is that argument hypocritical, it is also hugely unlikely that Reade’s accusations will do any damage whatsoever to Biden’s ambitions. Allegations of sexual assault certainly haven’t posed any hindrance to Trump. The allegations against Kavanaugh didn’t stop him from becoming a supreme court justice. The allegations against Louis CK didn’t kill his career in comedy. And the multiple women who have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately in the past haven’t exactly derailed his career.

Voir de plus:

Michelle Obama fait l’objet d’une enquête de l’AP sur les enfants et les « cages »

Jack Phillips

The Epoch Times
19 août 2020

L’agence de presse Associated Press (AP) a vérifié le discours de l’ancienne première dame Michelle Obama à la Convention nationale démocrate après qu’elle a affirmé que le président Donald Trump gardait des enfants dans des « cages » le long de la frontière entre les États-Unis et le Mexique pour tenter de critiquer la politique d’immigration du président.

L’AP a déclaré dans un communiqué concernant le contrôle des faits que l’ancienne première dame « s’est attaquée lundi au président Donald Trump arguant qu’il a arraché des enfants de migrants à leurs parents et les a jetés dans des cages, reprenant ainsi un point fréquemment soulevé et déformé par les démocrates ».

« Elle a raison de dire que la politique de Trump, désormais suspendue à la frontière entre les États-Unis et le Mexique, a séparé des milliers d’enfants de leurs familles d’une manière qui n’avait jamais été faite auparavant », ajoute l’AP dans son enquête. Mais ce qu’elle n’a pas dit, c’est que les mêmes « cages » ont été construites et utilisées dans l’administration de son mari, dans le même but de retenir temporairement les enfants de migrants.

L’AP a ajouté que la référence de Michelle Obama aux « cages » est « trompeuse » et qu’elle est fréquemment mentionnée par les politiciens démocrates.

« Trump a utilisé des installations qui ont été construites pendant l’administration Obama-Biden pour loger les enfants à la frontière. Il s’agit d’enclos à mailles losangées à l’intérieur des installations frontalières où les migrants étaient temporairement logés, séparés par sexe et par âge », ont déclaré les enquêteurs de l’AP.

L’agence de presse a noté que les photos d’enfants dans les centres d’hébergement qui ont été diffusées par les responsables démocrates en ligne pour critiquer Trump ont en fait été prises en 2014.

Ces photos « représentaient en fait quelques-uns des milliers d’enfants non accompagnés détenus par le président Barack Obama », a déclaré l’AP.

Dans son discours, Mme Obama a vanté le bilan de Joe Biden lorsqu’il était vice-président et a déclaré qu’il « sait ce qu’il faut pour sauver une économie, repousser une pandémie et diriger notre pays ».

Le président Trump n’a pas perdu de temps pour répondre au discours de l’ancienne première dame sur les médias sociaux.

« Quelqu’un pourrait-il expliquer à @MichelleObama que Donald J. Trump ne serait pas ici, dans la belle Maison-Blanche, si ce n’était pas pour le travail fait par votre mari, Barack Obama », a écrit M. Trump sur Twitter. « Mon administration et moi avons construit la plus grande économie de l’histoire, de tous les pays, en la remontant, en sauvant des millions de vies, et maintenant nous construisons une économie encore plus grande qu’avant. Les emplois se multiplient, le NASDAQ est déjà à un niveau record, le reste suivra. Asseyez-vous et regardez ! »

La convention d’investiture du Parti démocrate se tient du 17 au 20 août, avec des orateurs tels que l’ancien président Barack Obama, l’ancien président Bill Clinton, le sénateur Bernie Sanders (indépendant, Vermont), le sénateur Cory Booker (démocrate, New Jersey), le sénateur Elizabeth Warren (démocrate, Massachussetts), l’ancien gouverneur John Kasich, le représentant Jim Clyburn (démocrate, Caroline du Sud), l’ancienne première dame Michelle Obama, le gouverneur Andrew Cuomo et d’autres.

M. Biden et le sénateur Kamala Harris (démocrate, Californie) choisi comme vice-président, devraient être nommés. Tous deux devraient prendre la parole lors de l’événement, qui se déroule en grande partie virtuellement en raison de la pandémie de Covid-19.

La Convention nationale républicaine est prévue du 24 au 27 août.

Voir encore:

Parcours. Un gaffeur rusé à la vice-présidence

John M. Broder
The New York Times
Traduit par Courrier international

06/11/2008

Sénateur expérimenté, Joe Biden saura-t-il se contenter de jouer les utilités aux côtés de Barack Obama ?

Le grand public voit en lui l’Irlando-Américain natif de Pennsylvanie, le bavard enclin aux gaffes et aux grandes tapes dans le dos. Mais Joe Biden est surtout connu dans les couloirs du Sénat comme un homme politique ambitieux, rusé et calculateur, à l’esprit toujours tendu vers la prochaine étape de son ascension politique. La vie et la carrière de Joe Biden ont été marquées par une succession de naufrages et de remises à flot, certains dus au hasard, d’autres à ses propres défauts. Cette année, cet homme de 65 ans fort de trente-cinq années passées au Sénat avait pour objectif d’être prêt pour un dernier coup d’éclat.

Après deux candidatures désastreuses à l’investiture démocrate pour la candidature à la Maison-Blanche [en 1988 et en janvier 2008], il con­voitait les deux autres options les plus séduisantes, à savoir la résidence du vice-président ou les bureaux du département d’Etat. Rares sont les personnalités politiques américaines qui se fixent la vice-présidence pour objectif final. Mais, au cours des trente dernières années, la fonction a gagné en stature et en influence, et, selon certains de ses conseillers, Joe Biden a estimé qu’il pourrait peser davantage sur la politique américaine en exerçant ces fonctions aux côtés du président qu’en dirigeant la commission des Affaires étrangères du Sénat. Il a exprimé dès juin dernier son intérêt pour le poste. Deux mois plus tard, Obama le lui offrait.

Il est encore difficile de savoir quel genre de vice-président sera Joe Biden. Il reconnaît lui-même n’avoir jamais eu de patron et ne pas être habitué à jouer les seconds couteaux, lui qui s’est fait élire pour la première fois au Sénat à l’âge de 29 ans, il y a trente-six ans de cela. Jusqu’à l’âge de 10 ans, Joe Biden a grandi à Scranton, une petite ville de Pennsylvanie qu’il considère toujours comme étant chez lui, bien qu’il vive depuis 1953 à Wilmington, dans le petit Etat voisin du Delaware. Diplômé en droit, il a brièvement exercé le métier d’avocat, mais a toujours nourri de plus hautes ambitions. En 1972, il a affronté le très populaire sénateur J. Caleb Boggs au cours d’une campagne où seuls lui et sa famille croyaient en ses chances de réussite. Et, à 29 ans, il fut pour la première fois élu au Sénat. Mais la joie fut de courte durée : peu avant Noël, sa femme et sa fille de 13 mois furent tuées dans un accident de voiture, et ses deux jeunes fils, Joseph III et Hunter, gravement blessés. Joe Biden envisagea alors de démissionner du Sénat, mais deux sénateurs, Mike Mansfield et Hubert Humphrey, l’en dissuadèrent.

L’action de Joe Biden au Congrès fournit quelques indices sur ce que pourrait être sa vice-présidence. Le sénateur s’est trouvé au cœur de féroces batailles, qu’il a parfois remportées. En particulier lorsque, en 1987, à la tête de la Commission judiciaire du Sénat, il est parvenu à contrer la nomination du juge conservateur Robert H. Bork à la Cour suprême. Il en a perdu aussi, notamment lorsqu’il tenta en vain de bloquer la désignation du très conservateur juge africain-américain Clarence Thomas à la Cour suprême, en 1991. Ces combats lui ont valu l’inimitié de certains sénateurs et intellectuels conservateurs, mais aussi celle des féministes et des progressistes. Après l’affaire Thomas, il a déclaré qu’il ne voulait pas passer le reste de sa carrière à traiter des désignations à la Cour suprême et se consacra alors à la puissante commission des Affaires étrangères du Sénat, dont il devint membre, puis président en 2001. Il vota contre le recours à la force pour chasser les Irakiens du Koweït en 1991 et pour l’usage de la puissance militaire en Irak en 2002. Il eut cependant tout le loisir de regretter ces prises de position : Joe Biden a déclaré plus tard qu’il jugeait finalement justifiée la guerre du Golfe de 1991 et que la seconde guerre d’Irak avait été si mal conduite qu’il regrettait de l’avoir approuvée. En 2006 et 2007, il s’est opposé à l’envoi de renforts en Irak, proposant à la place une partition du pays en trois régions autonomes, un projet critiqué de toutes parts pour son manque de réalisme.
Joe Biden assure aujourd’hui ne pas vouloir s’occuper d’un domaine particulier une fois à la vice-présidence, et il a promis à Barack Obama qu’il n’userait pas de son expérience aux Affaires étrangères et de ses contacts au Capitole pour court-circuiter le futur secrétaire d’Etat. Il dit espérer pouvoir contribuer à l’acceptation du programme d’Obama au Congrès et jouer les conciliateurs. Quoi qu’il en soit, son rôle, comme celui de tous les vice-présidents, dépendra beaucoup de ses rapports avec son patron. Lorsqu’ils se sont entretenus l’été dernier à ce propos, Barack Obama a dit souhaiter “un véritable partenaire de gouvernement”. Il a précisé qu’il cherchait un vice-président qui le conseille sans y aller par quatre chemins et que c’était pour cette raison qu’il avait choisi le sénateur du Delaware, car, a-t-il affirmé,“Joe Biden n’a pas sa langue dans sa poche”.

Voir aussi:

Hoping It’s Biden
David Brooks
NYT
Aug. 22, 2008

Barack Obama has decided upon a vice-presidential running mate. And while I don’t know who it is as I write, for the good of the country, I hope he picked Joe Biden.

Biden’s weaknesses are on the surface. He has said a number of idiotic things over the years and, in the days following his selection, those snippets would be aired again and again.

But that won’t hurt all that much because voters are smart enough to forgive the genuine flaws of genuine people. And over the long haul, Biden provides what Obama needs:

Working-Class Roots. Biden is a lunch-bucket Democrat. His father was rich when he was young — played polo, cavorted on yachts, drove luxury cars. But through a series of bad personal and business decisions, he was broke by the time Joe Jr. came along. They lived with their in-laws in Scranton, Pa., then moved to a dingy working-class area in Wilmington, Del. At one point, the elder Biden cleaned boilers during the week and sold pennants and knickknacks at a farmer’s market on the weekends.

His son was raised with a fierce working-class pride — no one is better than anyone else. Once, when Joe Sr. was working for a car dealership, the owner threw a Christmas party for the staff. Just as the dancing was to begin, the owner scattered silver dollars on the floor and watched from above as the mechanics and salesmen scrambled about for them. Joe Sr. quit that job on the spot.

Even today, after serving for decades in the world’s most pompous workplace, Senator Biden retains an ostentatiously unpretentious manner. He campaigns with an army of Bidens who seem to emerge by the dozens from the old neighborhood in Scranton. He has disdain for privilege and for limousine liberals — the mark of an honest, working-class Democrat.

Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, have trouble connecting with working-class voters, especially Catholic ones. Biden would be the bridge.

Honesty. Biden’s most notorious feature is his mouth. But in his youth, he had a stutter. As a freshman in high school he was exempted from public speaking because of his disability, and was ridiculed by teachers and peers. His nickname was Dash, because of his inability to finish a sentence.

He developed an odd smile as a way to relax his facial muscles (it still shows up while he’s speaking today) and he’s spent his adulthood making up for any comments that may have gone unmade during his youth.

Today, Biden’s conversational style is tiresome to some, but it has one outstanding feature. He is direct. No matter who you are, he tells you exactly what he thinks, before he tells it to you a second, third and fourth time.

Presidents need someone who will be relentlessly direct. Obama, who attracts worshippers, not just staff members, needs that more than most.

Loyalty. Just after Biden was elected to the senate in 1972, his wife, Neilia, and daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash. His career has also been marked by lesser crises. His first presidential run ended in a plagiarism scandal. He nearly died of a brain aneurism.

New administrations are dominated by the young and the arrogant, and benefit from the presence of those who have been through the worst and who have a tinge of perspective. Moreover, there are moments when a president has to go into the cabinet room and announce a decision that nearly everyone else on his team disagrees with. In those moments, he needs a vice president who will provide absolute support. That sort of loyalty comes easiest to people who have been down themselves, and who had to rely on others in their own moments of need.

Experience. When Obama talks about postpartisanship, he talks about a grass-roots movement that will arise and sweep away the old ways of Washington. When John McCain talks about it, he describes a meeting of wise old heads who get together to craft compromises. Obama’s vision is more romantic, but McCain’s is more realistic.

When Biden was a young senator, he was mentored by Hubert Humphrey, Mike Mansfield and the like. He was schooled in senatorial procedure in the days when the Senate was less gridlocked. If Obama hopes to pass energy and health care legislation, he’s going to need someone with that kind of legislative knowledge who can bring the battered old senators together, as in days of yore.

There are other veep choices. Tim Kaine seems like a solid man, but selecting him would be disastrous. It would underline all the anxieties voters have about youth and inexperience. Evan Bayh has impeccably centrist credentials, but the country is not in the mood for dispassionate caution.

Biden’s the one. The only question is whether Obama was wise and self-aware enough to know that

Voir également:

Le fils de Joe Biden promet de cesser ses activités à l’étranger

Hunter Biden a annoncé qu’il allait quitter le conseil d’administration de la société chinoise BHR. Ses activités à l’étranger ont fait l’objet de nombreuses attaques de la part de Donald Trump et fragilisé la campagne de son père.

La nouvelle est tombée deux jours avant le nouveau débat entre candidats démocrates, qui doit avoir lieu le 15 octobre dans l’Ohio. Hunter Biden, le fils de Joe Biden, a fait savoir par le biais de son avocat, dimanche 13 octobre, qu’il avait “l’intention de quitter le conseil d’administration de la société chinoise, BHR avant la fin du mois”, rapporte le New York Times.

Hunter Biden a ajouté que si son père était élu président, il “accepterait de ne pas travailler pour le compte de sociétés étrangères”.

Les activités de Hunter Biden en Chine et en Ukraine, où il a siégé au conseil d’administration d’une société gazière entre 2014 et 2019, ont fait l’objet “d’attaques incessantes de la part du président Trump et menacé la candidature de son père, Joe Biden”, rappelle le quotidien new-yorkais.

Selon le New York Times, “rien ne prouve que l’ancien vice-président de Barack Obama ait agi de façon inappropriée pour aider son fils dans ses affaires en Chine et en Ukraine, comme l’a affirmé M. Trump”.

Joe Biden a tenu une rapide conférence de presse le 13 octobre pour expliquer que “la décision de quitter le conseil d’administration de la société chinoise avait été prise par son fils seul”.

Joe Biden prêt à répondre à ses rivaux démocrates

Le quotidien new-yorkais fait également remarquer que Joe Biden a semblé “porter des coups voilés à certains des enfants de Donald Trump”, qui ont eux aussi développé des relations d’affaires à l’étranger :

Personne dans ma famille n’aura de bureau à la Maison-Blanche, n’assistera aux réunions comme s’il était un membre du cabinet du président, n’aura de relations d’affaires avec quiconque ayant un lien avec une société étrangère ou un pays étranger.”

Alors qu’un nouveau débat doit avoir lieu le 15 octobre entre les candidats démocrates, Joe Biden “se prépare depuis des semaines à répondre à des questions sur son fils, indique le New York Times. Ses alliés et conseillers martèlent que tout démocrate qui aborde le sujet fait le jeu de Donald Trump et nuit à la cause du parti.”

Pour le quotidien, certains démocrates considèrent toutefois que l’attention portée à la famille de Joe Biden est devenue une vulnérabilité politique, l’éloignant de son programme de campagne et l’obligeant à se défendre”.

Voir de même:

Elections

Who or What Exactly Is Running Against Trump?

The inner-Biden at 77 is turning out to be an unabashed bigot in the age of “cancel culture” and thought crimes that has apparently declared him immune from the opprobrium reserved for any such speech.

As we enter the final 90 days of the November presidential campaign, a few truths are crystalizing about the “Biden problem,” or the inability of a 77-year-old Joe Biden to conduct a “normal” campaign.

Biden’s cognitive challenges are increasing geometrically, whether as a result of months of relative inactivity and lack of stimulation or just consistent with the medical trajectory of his affliction. His lot is increasingly similar to historical figures such as 67-year-old President William Henry Harrison, William Gladstone’s last tenure as prime minister, Chancellor Hindenburg, or Franklin Roosevelt in late 1944—age and physical infirmities signaling to the concerned that a subordinate might assume power sooner than later.

In the past, it was to Biden’s advantage to postpone his selection of his female-mandated vice presidential running mate, given the lose-lose choice of either picking a woke young African American female who may polarize swing voters while spending the next three months being vetted in the fashion of California Representative Karen Bass’s Scientology and Fidel Castro issues, or selecting a vetted, but off-putting former National Security Advisor Susan Rice or Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who does not especially like Biden and would be seen as hovering and rummaging about as an impatient president-in-waiting.

Biden, remember, is one of the few primary candidates in history who promised in advance to pick a running mate on the basis of gender and, as events would dictate, and by inference, race as well.

But now there seems an additional urgency to select a running mate, given the Democratic ticket is a construct, with no visible or viable presidential candidate. While traditional polls show a sizable Biden lead, at some point voters will want more than the current contest of Trump alone versus the media, the virus, the lockdown, the economy, and the rioting. But so far, it remains a one-person race, in the fashion of Clint Eastwood’s weird 2012 Republican National Convention appearance speaking to an empty chair.

Perceiving the Inner Biden

So we are witnessing a campaign never before experienced in American history and not entirely attributable to the plague and quarantine. After all, the fellow septuagenarian Trump, with his own array of medical challenges, insists upon frenetic and near-constant public appearances. His opponent is a noncandidate conducting a noncampaign that demands we ask the question, who exactly is drafting the Biden agenda and strategy? Or, rather, who or what is Biden, if not a composite cat’s paw of an anonymous left-wing central committee?

When Biden speaks for more than a few minutes without a script or a minder in his basement, the results are often racist of the sort in the Black Lives Matter era that otherwise would be rightly damned and called out as disqualifying. If his inner racialist persona continues to surface, Biden’s insensitivities threaten to expose a muzzled BLM as a mere transparent effort to grab power rather than to address “systemic racism” of the sort the exempt Biden seems to exude.

Biden needs the minority vote in overwhelming numbers, as he realized in his late comeback in the primaries. But the continuance of his often angry, unapologetic racialist nonsense suggests that his cognitive issues trump his political sense of self-control.

The inner Biden at 77 is turning out to be an unabashed bigot in the age of “cancel culture” and thought crimes that has apparently declared him immune from the opprobrium reserved for any such speech.

For Biden, if any African American doesn’t vote for him, then “you ain’t black”—a charge fired back at black podcaster with near venom. Biden more calmly assures us, in his all-knowing Bideneque wisdom, that Americans can’t tell Asians in general apart—channeling the ancient racist trope that “they all look alike.”

In his scrambled sociology, blacks are unimaginatively monolithic politically, while Latinos are diverse and more flexible. Biden seems to have no notion that “Latino” is a sort of construct to encompass everyone from a Brazilian aristocrat to an immigrant from the state of Oaxaca, and not comparable to the more inclusive and precise term “African American.” Moreover, while the black leadership in Congress may be politically monolithic, there are millions of blacks who oppose abortion, defunding the police, and illegal immigration. The best minds of the conservative intellectual and political movement so often are African Americans.

When asked questions, Biden’s answers so often reveal racist subtexts. A few days ago, CBS reporter Errol Barnett, who is black, asked Biden whether he would take a cognitive assessment exam. Biden fired back to him that such an unfair question would be as if he had asked Barnett whether he was getting tested for cocaine before going live. “That’s like saying,” a perturbed Biden exclaimed to Barnett, “before you got on this program, you’re taking a test whether you’re taking cocaine or not . . . What do you think, huh? Are you a junkie?” Note the tell-tale Biden trademark of racist insinuation delivered with punk-like braggadocio.

Note, too, Biden’s racist assumption that an African American professional journalist might be likely to be defensive about being a cocaine addict. Yet Biden should know—from the drug struggles of Hunter Biden—that cocaine is in fact the favorite drug of the white elite.

Mental Lapses as Force Multipliers

The problem is that in the past, a cognizant Biden was already racially edgy with his various earlier-career riffs about inner-city criminals, blue-collar chest-thumping about busing, and his more recent ideas about donut shops, accomplished black professionals on the verge of returning to slave status (“put y’all back in chains”), his racist descriptions of candidate Obama’s supposedly exceptional personal hygiene and ability to speak well, his corn-pop braggadocio, and on and on.

His mental lapses now serve as force multipliers and accelerants of the old Biden’s foot-in-mouth disease and render him often a caricature of a racist.

Politically, the point is not that he will not win the majority of minority voters, but rather that he won’t win enough of them at a margin necessary that carrying large swing-state cities such as Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, and others, will make up for the likely loss of rural areas and working-class whites, supposedly the “clingers” that “good ’ole Joe from Scranton” was supposed to own.

Even more disturbing, the media simply is unconcerned about Biden’s racial putdowns, stereotyping, and uncomfortableness with the proverbial “other.” And the more the inner-Biden racialist sounds off, the more ridiculous such contextualizing becomes and the less people listen when journalists and activists spout off about a systemically racist America.

Recently, when Biden has attempted to speak without prompts, indeed to clear up “rumors” of his cognitive problems, he simply loses his train of thought and utters a series of unstructured and unsettled thoughts that refute the very premise of his interview. The understandable Democratic strategy is to run out the clock and to choreograph a few post-Labor Day public appearances, to outsource campaigning to his running mate and future cabinet secretaries, and then to hope, in the manner of a 2016 Hillary Clinton, that he has amassed a large enough September lead to outlast a closing October Trump campaign.

There are problems with such a strategy, as we saw in 2016. If Biden late in the campaign stumbles in the debates, there is no post-convention remedy to reassure the public he is compos mentis or otherwise can be replaced by a majority consensus. Then the country would be entering something eerily similar to, but far graver than, the McGovern debacle of desperately looking for a new running mate after it was disclosed that an apparently perfectly cognizant Tom Eagleton—his running-mate for 18 days—had undergone two electric shock treatments in his past as well as undisclosed prior hospitalizations for bipolar disorder.

Biden’s Race Against Time

Right now, the Democrats have a virtual campaign and a virtual candidate and a strategy of running against the Trump news cycle. That may work, but it assumes Americans under quarantine don’t mind that they do not really know who is the Democratic challenger, or that Biden is, in fact, not physically or mentally able to function as either a candidate or president. It also assumes that the Trump-owned news cycle will remain as dismal over the next three months as it has the last five or six weeks, and that the virus will spike in late October again, rather than slowly burn out as it seems to be doing in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe.

Add it all up and the question is no longer whether Biden could fulfill the duties of the presidency but whether he can finish a traditional campaign over the next three months—without outsourcing his duties to a committee, or serially saying something blatantly racist, or simply disappearing to the nether world of his basement where saying nothing beats saying anything.

Voir par ailleurs:

Aux États-Unis, il y a aussi une “majorité silencieuse noire”

Jason L. Riley

The Wall Street Journal
19/06/2020

Pour ce chroniqueur africain-américain du Wall Street Journal, quotidien conservateur, le mouvement Black Lives Matter fait fausse route en accusant les forces de l’ordre d’être responsables des inégalités. Selon lui, c’est la criminalité dans les quartiers qui fait obstacle à l’ascension sociale ds Noirs américains.

Il est trop tôt pour dire ce qui ressortira de l’actuelle vague de violences liée à la mort de George Floyd. On sait en revanche que l’histoire récente n’a pas été particulièrement tendre envers les mouvements militants qui tentent de lutter contre le racisme.

Les méthodes défendues par l’une de leurs figures les plus célèbres, Martin Luther King, ont abouti à l’adoption du Civil Rights Act en 1964 et du Voting Rights Act en 1965, deux des plus grandes lois de l’histoire américaine.

À l’inverse, l’évolution du mouvement Black Power a conduit à son implosion, ses principaux représentants finissant en exil, en prison ou victimes de rivalités internes meurtrières. Si le mouvement avait su s’attirer quelques sympathies chez les Blancs, celles-ci ont rapidement disparu après les émeutes de Détroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles et plusieurs autres grandes métropoles.

Renforcement d’une identité de groupe

De même qu’aujourd’hui avec le mouvement Black Lives Matter, le renforcement d’une identité de groupe associée aux militants noirs a été suivi par un retour de bâton avec la résurgence des suprémacistes blancs et l’émergence des skinheads dans les années 1970 et 1980.

Il n’est pas besoin de lire des articles universitaires pour comprendre que les manifestations pacifiques pour les droits civiques ont mieux réussi que les violences. Un chercheur de Princeton vient néanmoins d’en publier un qui mérite lecture. Dans un article paru le mois dernier dans l’American Political Science Review, Omar Wasow, professeur adjoint en sciences politiques, décrit les résultats d’un projet de recherche entamé il y a quinze ans sur les conséquences politiques des manifestations.

Omar Wasow, qui est noir, a étudié les manifestations de militants noirs entre 1960 et 1972 aux États-Unis et découvert que les “tactiques employées” pouvaient faire toute la différence pour faire avancer une cause :

Les manifestations non violentes ont joué un rôle essentiel pour faire pencher la balance politique nationale en faveur des droits civiques. Les mouvements dans lesquels étaient lancées des violences parvenaient à des résultats diamétralement opposés aux revendications des manifestants.”

Après les incidents survenus lors des manifestations liées à la mort de George Floyd lors de son interpellation par la police, le président Trump a clairement annoncé que “l’ordre public” serait un de ses thèmes de campagne, et les travaux de Wasow apportent des éléments de réponse quant à l’efficacité de cette stratégie.

Le précédent Nixon

Dans un récent entretien avec le New Yorker, Wasow déclare avoir découvert “un lien de causalité entre les manifestations violentes” survenues après l’assassinat de Martin Luther King en avril 1968 et “le rejet du parti démocrate”. Plus spécifiquement, “dans les circonscriptions proches des violences, Nixon a enregistré des résultats supérieurs de 6 à 8 points de pourcentage lors de l’élection”.

L’analogie entre 1968 et 2020 est toutefois compliquée par un certain nombre de facteurs. L’élection présidentielle de 1968 se jouait entre trois hommes, et Nixon faisait figure de choix sûr pour les gens qui souhaitaient un retour à l’ordre avec un homme plus ferme que le démocrate Hubert Humphrey mais sans le racisme de George Wallace [ancien gouverneur ségrégationniste de l’Alabama].

En outre, Nixon n’était pas le président sortant. Il s’est présenté comme le candidat censé lutter contre la criminalité, l’insécurité en ville et les divisions raciales qui n’avaient fait que s’aggraver sous la présidence d’un autre. La cote de popularité en baisse de Donald Trump laisse pressentir qu’il ne pourra pas jouer cette carte-là. La semaine dernière, le Wall Street Journal indiquait que, selon son dernier sondage mené en collaboration avec NBC News, 80 % des électeurs avaient actuellement “le sentiment que la situation dans le pays échappait de plus en plus à tout contrôle”.

Trump est aussi impopulaire que les pillages

La question est de savoir si Joe Biden et les démocrates aideront Donald Trump en permettant aux manifestants violents de devenir le visage de leur parti et en cédant aux demandes de plus en plus absurdes des progressistes radicaux. Donald Trump est peut-être impopulaire, mais les pillages et le déboulonnage des statues le sont tout autant, de même que l’arrêt du financement de la police ou le fait de laisser des militants armés radicaux s’emparer de quartiers entiers.

La gauche devrait également veiller à ne pas croire que les électeurs noirs dont elle aura massivement besoin dans cinq mois seront convaincus par un tel programme. Dans un mémo de 1970 adressé au président Nixon, son conseiller Daniel Patrick Moynihan notait qu’il “existe une majorité silencieuse chez les Noirs comme chez les Blancs” et que les deux partageaient “essentiellement les mêmes préoccupations”.

Inégalités sociales

Ce qui était vrai il y a cinquante ans l’est toujours aujourd’hui. La plupart des Noirs savent que George Floyd n’est pas plus représentatif de leur communauté que Derek Chauvin ne l’est des policiers. Ils savent que la fréquence des contacts entre Noirs et policiers a beaucoup plus à voir avec le taux de criminalité chez les Noirs américains qu’avec le fait que les policiers seraient racistes.

Ils savent que les jeunes hommes noirs ont bien plus à craindre de leurs pairs que des forces de police. Et ils savent que les émeutiers sont des opportunistes et non des révolutionnaires.

Il est parfaitement légitime d’ouvrir un débat national sur la façon d’améliorer les méthodes de la police, mais aujourd’hui la conversation en vient à accuser les forces de police d’être responsables des inégalités sociales, ce qui n’est pas seulement illogique mais dangereux. La criminalité dans les quartiers fait obstacle à l’ascension sociale. Toute conversation ne reconnaissant pas cette réalité ne mérite pas d’avoir lieu.

Voir également:

Dans les villes américaines, l’échec de la gauche est “patent” depuis 1968

Daniel Henninger
The Wall Street Journal
12/06/2020

Pauvreté, délinquance, difficultés scolaires : pour le Wall Street Journal, la situation des quartiers où des émeutes avaient déjà fait rage il y a plus de 50 ans n’a guère évolué. Et le “nihilisme de la culpabilité perpétuelle” des progressistes américains est une excuse commode pour masquer leurs erreurs.

Ce n’est pas une redite de 1968. C’est pire.

La fin des années 1960 a incarné l’âge d’or du progressisme américain moderne. En 1964 et 1965, les démocrates et républicains du Congrès ont adopté ensemble des lois historiques sur les droits civiques. Au printemps 1968, c’est l’assassinat de Martin Luther King qui a précipité un soulèvement : New York, Trenton, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Kansas City et Washington se sont enflammés.

On peut supposer qu’à cette période, en dépit de la grande réforme sociale amorcée par le président démocrate Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), ces mesures de gauche étaient trop récentes pour avoir amélioré les conditions de vie dans les quartiers urbains défavorisés.

Le 25 mai 2020, George Floyd est mort à Minneapolis aux mains du policier Derek Chauvin, qui a été arrêté et inculpé de meurtre. Puis de nombreuses villes des États-Unis ont été le théâtre de manifestations accompagnées d’émeutes et de pillages. Simultanément, beaucoup ont affirmé que les États-Unis – c’est-à-dire la population américaine – étaient coupables d’un perpétuel “racisme systémique”.

Des milliers de milliards de dollars dépensés

Les images des événements montrent clairement que la majorité des manifestants sont nés après 1990. À cette date, les politiques sociales de LBJ existaient depuis vingt-cinq ans, elles sont aujourd’hui en vigueur depuis cinquante-cinq ans. Des milliers de milliards de dollars sont alloués chaque année à l’assurance-maladie pour les plus vulnérables, aux bons alimentaires, aux logements sociaux, aux allocations logement et aux subventions fédérales des écoles publiques, mais pour aboutir à quoi, exactement ?

Quasiment rien n’a changé dans les quartiers où des émeutes ont fait rage en 1968. La pauvreté, la délinquance, les difficultés scolaires semblent tout aussi courantes aujourd’hui qu’à l’époque où LBJ s’était engagé à y remédier. Autant dire que nous avons observé cinq décennies d’inertie et d’immobilisme dans les quartiers les plus marginalisés des États-Unis, presque toujours sous la direction politique des démocrates, ou “progressistes”, comme on dit aujourd’hui.

L’échec du modèle de la gauche est si patent que ses défenseurs ont créé tout un univers parallèle de justifications en accusant les colons ou en dénonçant l’absence de “justice”. Et leur stratégie fonctionne, puisque des manifestants à Paris et à Berlin – un comble – font la leçon aux États-Unis sur le racisme d’État.

Une politique systémique d’oubli

La situation est plus grave qu’en 1968, car notre système tout entier est maintenant engagé dans une politique systémique d’oubli. Oublions l’échec de cette stratégie et ses raisons. Oublions, par exemple, que les logements sociaux new-yorkais sont infestés de rats et n’ont pas de chauffage l’hiver. Oublions que beaucoup de Noirs ont effectivement été abandonnés à leur sort. Oublions que, malgré le budget faramineux de Medicaid [l’assurance-maladie fédérale pour les plus vulnérables], le pourcentage de maladies chroniques reste plus élevé chez les Américains noirs.

Se contenter de plaquer l’analyse de 1968 sur les événements de 2020 est un acte nihiliste. À force d’être accusés en continu de “racisme systémique” par les militants et les médias, les gens finissent par être insensibilisés. Ils concluent que la solution proposée aujourd’hui est littéralement une absence de solution.

Ce nouveau nihilisme progressiste martèle que la réponse à la délinquance dans les quartiers est la dépénalisation. À New York, en raison de la “réforme” des libérations sous caution, la majorité des pilleurs arrêtés sont remis en liberté.

Ce nouveau nihilisme minimise les dégradations matérielles motivées par des considérations idéologiques, car les biens sont “remplaçables”. En réalité, on sait très bien que beaucoup des quartiers incendiés en 1968 peinent à se reconstruire depuis.

L’espoir existe

Ce nouveau nihilisme affirme qu’on a beau nommer des chefs de la police réformistes et des maires noirs, “rien n’a changé”. C’est la définition même du désespoir. Mais l’espoir existe.

On pourrait, par exemple, favoriser l’accès à la propriété, comme l’a proposé le ministre du Logement, Ben Carson, en réformant l’emprunt hypothécaire. Débarrassons-nous de ces affreux logements sociaux qui s’apparentent plus à des prisons. Mais l’inertie prévaut.

Les Africains-Américains veulent envoyer leurs enfants dans des écoles privées sous contrat, car elles enseignent des valeurs, l’estime de soi et l’espoir. Mais cette option pensée pour les parents à revenus modestes suscite une opposition franche du Parti démocrate.

On pourrait faire valoir que les créations d’emplois et la hausse des salaires ces dernières années chez les jeunes Américains noirs sont plus en phase avec les 244 ans d’histoire américaine qui ont fait de ce pays une terre d’avenir. Mais pourquoi y prêter attention ? Le nihilisme de la culpabilité perpétuelle est plus commode, car il absout de toute responsabilité ceux qui sont susceptibles d’avoir mis en œuvre des politiques publiques aberrantes.

Reste à savoir comment les Américains, quelle que soit leur couleur, ont vécu les récents événements. Le minimalisme médiatique affirme qu’il faut choisir entre Joe Biden et Donald Trump. Mais les enjeux dépassent largement ces deux hommes.

Voir enfin:

L’absence d’enthousiasme de la gauche pacifiste autoproclamée dissimule mal le fait que depuis longtemps, sans le dire, elle ne soutient plus que du bout des lèvres l’existence de l’État d’Israël, souligne notre chroniqueur Gilles-William Goldnadel.

En principe, une telle annonce est censée réjouir tous les hommes de bonne volonté indépendamment de leurs prises de position politique, la paix étant–on excusera le lieu commun–toujours préférable à la guerre.

A fortiori lorsqu’il s’agit d’un État juif et d’un État arabe et musulman dont on connaît l’antagonisme historique.

Il est normal et d’une grande logique politique que la République Islamique d’Iran ou que le Hamas palestinien, qui ne dissimulent pas leurs désirs de détruire Israël, vouent cet accord aux gémonies.

Mais la gauche et son extrémité qui aiment à afficher par tous les temps et de tout temps leur pacifisme exacerbé (« le capitalisme apporte la guerre, comme la nuée l’orage » nous expliquent doctement les marxistes, « le nationalisme c’est la guerre » nous disent les trotskistes, Mitterrand et Macron) s’est montré d’une immense discrétion.

C’est ainsi que Le Monde du 14 aout, toujours égal à lui-même, n’a pas hésité à présenter négativement l’accord comme une omission des palestiniens, jusqu’à travestir la réalité.

En effet, bien qu’il s’agisse d’un accord bilatéral ne concernant en rien la Palestine, les Émirats Arabes Unis ont tenu à ce que cet accord contienne une clause de suspension du projet d’annexion par Israël de cette vallée du Jourdain au demeurant acceptée depuis longtemps par la partie palestinienne, en cas d’accord définitif, en raison du fait qu’elle est peu peuplée d’Arabes et d’une importance stratégique existentielle pour l’Etat Juif.

Sauf que la représentation politique des Arabes de Palestine ne s’est jamais résolue depuis un siècle à renoncer à une portion d’une terre qu’elle considère toujours, de parfaite bonne foi irrédentiste, comme arabe et musulmane.

Cette absence d’enthousiasme de la gauche pacifiste autoproclamée dissimule mal le fait que depuis longtemps sans le dire elle ne se soutient plus que du bout des lèvres l’existence de l’État d’Israël.

Plusieurs raisons conscientes et inconscientes expliquent cette désaffection montante.

La première et que la gauche xénophile a basculé dans le camp de la radicalité anti-occidentale la plus pathologique.
Peu importe donc que celui-ci soit raciste ou antisémite.

La seconde, est que la gauche européiste et son extrémité affichent désormais une détestation pour les États-nations. A fortiori lorsqu’ils sont d’occident.

La troisième est que la gauche et son extrémité sont atteints de racisme anti blanc.

La quatrième, qui n’est que la synthèse des trois premières, est que l’Israélien–ou le juif moderne–est considéré comme un super blanc au rebours du juif ancien que le vieil antisémite prenait pour un métèque.

L’État-nation juif occidental qui se bat bec et ongles pour défendre ses frontières n’en est que plus détestable pour la gauche devenue internationaliste.

Il ne faut dès lors pas s’étonner que les populations immigrées d’origine arabe ou musulmane présentes sur le sol français se montrent souvent beaucoup plus hostiles que d’autres populations arabes ou musulmanes à l’égard d’Israël et par voie de conséquence l’ensemble des juifs.

Contrairement à une propagande anti- musulmane à laquelle je n’ai jamais souscrite, je pense que l’islamo- gauchisme médiatique, politique ou intellectuel a bien plus dressé une partie des musulmans de France à l’antisémitisme que la lecture du Coran quel que soit son contenu littéral.

Voilà pourquoi, même s’ils ne le savent pas, les gentils pacifistes et antiracistes autoproclamés de gauche préfèrent mille fois voir l’état du peuple juif réprouvé rituellement ou tenu en étau dans un ghetto plutôt que de le voir signer des accords de paix avec ses anciens ennemis.

L’imposture de gauche pacifique et antiraciste est une formule décidément pléonastique.

Voir enfin:

« I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says of Vice President Joe Biden in his new book coming out later this month. Gates’ assessment of Biden’s boss is only slightly better, depicting an Obama administration with very murky lines ofcommunication on military issues.Gates, as The New York Times notes in its review of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, served under every president since Nixon, save Bill Clinton. When President Obama took office in 2009, he (somewhat controversially) decided that Gates would stay as defense secretary, a position to which he was appointed by George W. Bush in 2006. (At that confirmation hearing, Gates reportedly thought to himself, « What the hell am I doing here? I have walked right into the middle of a category-five shitstorm. »)According to the Times review and one in The Washington Post, Gates wasn’t particularly happy with either president. « In Duty, » Bob Woodward writes for the Post, « Gates describes his outwardly calm demeanor as a facade. Underneath, he writes, he was frequently ‘seething’ and ‘running out of patience on multiple fronts.' »
Gates apparently raises direct questions about Obama’s handling of the war he inherited. The former secretary was concerned, Woodward writes, at both the Obama administration’s tight grip on military policy as well as its insecurity about what it should do. The Times indicates that Gates faulted the Bush administration for its handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (before Gates arrived) and was consistently frustrated by his exchanges with Obama’s advisors, especially Biden. From The Times:

Biden is accused of « poisoning the well » against the military leadership. Thomas Donilon, initially Obama’s deputy national security adviser, and then-Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the White House coordinator for the wars, are described as regularly engaged in « aggressive, suspicious, and sometimes condescending and insulting questioning of our military leaders. »

During one meeting in 2009, the micro-managing of the advisors nearly prompted Gates to quit his position, in part given their tendency to try and interrupt the chain of military command. Gates also describes overhearing Hillary Clinton tell Obama that her opposition to the Iraq War in 2008 was primarily motivated by politics — an assessment that Gates says Obama generally agreed with. In the book, Gates says Obama has integrity, but has glowing praise for Clinton, calling her « smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny » — and it goes on.

The only part of government Gates actually liked, it seems, was the military. The book « offers the familiar criticism of Congress and its culture, describing it as ‘truly ugly,' » Woodward writes. The Times calls his assessment of members of Congress « stinging, » quoting Gates saying that « when they went into an open hearing, and the little red light went on atop a television camera, it had the effect of a full moon on a werewolf. »

Just wait until they get the attention that comes with writing a tell-all book.

Update, 6:00 p.m.: The White House unsurprisingly disagrees with Gates’ assessment.

Philip Bump is a former politics writer for The Atlantic Wire.
Voir par ailleurs:

Joe Biden’s Iraq problem

The former vice president has a long, complicated, and some would say checkered history with Iraq. Here’s the full story.

Joe Biden says that when deciding whether to vote in favor of invading Iraq in 2002, he took President George W. Bush at his word and was led astray.

“[Bush] looked me in the eye in the Oval Office. He said he needed the vote to be able to get inspectors into Iraq to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was engaged in dealing with a nuclear program,” Biden told NPR in September, explaining his Senate vote. “He got them in and before you know it, we had ‘shock and awe.’”

To hear the former senator and vice president tell it, Biden was one of the many high-profile Democrats who voted to authorize the Iraq War after the 9/11 attacks, only to regret it immediately after.

But his record, well documented in speeches on the Senate floor, congressional hearings, and press interviews from 2001 through his time in the White House, is that of a senator bullish about the push to war who helped sell the Bush administration’s pitch to the American public — and of a vice president who left an unmistakable imprint on President Barack Obama’s backing of a dictator in Iraq.

Biden, whose campaign didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, is one of two 2020 Democratic presidential candidates — the other being Sen. Bernie Sanders — with congressional records that stretch back to the start of the Iraq War. In the fall of 2002, Biden committed what anti-war activists call the “original sin” by voting for the war when he was chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. Sanders, then a member of the House of Representatives, was vocal in opposition.

Those close to Biden describe his record on Iraq as one less moored in policy than in personal connections. Biden has long touted a dedication to working on the inside, maintaining civility and forming bonds with even those he vehemently disagrees with. That’s his formula for making change.

“There’s plenty of room to criticize him, but I don’t think this a purely cynical case of revisionism,” one former Democratic Senate aide told Vox about his Iraq record. “The sense in the Senate was that there was a pathway out of this thing, and the Bush administration blew it.”

But Biden’s fiercest critics point out that the timeline doesn’t add up. Lawmakers knew from the beginning the shakiness of the Bush administration’s case for going to war with Iraq, and Biden not only went along with it, he championed it.

Now a decade and a half later, as voters decide if Biden should represent the Democrats against Trump, they will have to decide if Biden’s checkered history with Iraq may impede him from the ultimate prize. Some have already made up their mind.

“What’s the central reason that Congress approved the war? Key Democrats like Biden crossed over and made a deal with Bush,” says Robert Naiman, with the anti-interventionist Just Foreign Policy group.

Biden voted for — and helped advance — the Bush agenda

The simple truth is that Biden voted to give Bush broad power to go to war with Iraq. He did so as a top-ranking Democrat in the Senate: the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And he did so at a time when the majority of Americans did not support taking immediate military action.

How he got to that point involves several twists.

The Bush administration’s campaign for war powers began in the summer of 2002. Vice President Dick Cheney declared definitively that Saddam Hussein was building an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction — a claim echoed by American intelligence officers, who were called to Congress to detail those weapons, and by the media outlets who quoted them. As we know now, those claims were based on flimsy evidence and turned out to be incorrect.

Bush also said he needed war authorization to add teeth to a diplomatic effort through the United Nations to get inspectors on the ground in Iraq. But the administration wasn’t prioritizing diplomacy; they were asking for a broad war authorization that gave the White House immense freedom to use military force in Iraq.

Biden bought into the Bush administration’s argument. He elevated the administration’s concerns about Hussein in the press. And in the months leading up to the vote authorizing war, he organized a series of Senate hearings, in close coordination with the White House, during which he echoed the administration’s talking points about weapons of mass destruction.

President George W. Bush sits between Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL, left) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE, right) in the Cabinet room at the White House on July 25, 2001.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“In my judgment, President Bush is right to be concerned about Saddam Hussein’s relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that he may use them or share them with terrorists,” Biden said at an August hearing.

“These weapons must be dislodged from Saddam Hussein, or Saddam Hussein must be dislodged from power,” he continued. “President Bush has stated his determination to remove Saddam from power, a view many in Congress share.”

Those hearings have been characterized by his supporters as Biden’s attempt to seriously and methodically weigh the price of war. And, to be sure, Biden did note: “If that course is pursued, in my view, it matters profoundly how we do it and what we do after we succeed.”

But, as has been reported in progressive outlets, the hearings included scant testimony from skeptical anti-war voices. And throughout them, there was vocal opposition among Biden’s Democratic ranks.

“The administration’s arguments just don’t add up,” Sen. Russ Feingold said on the Senate floor in October 2002. Sen. Paul Wellstone similarly raised concerns, questioning a lack of planning on the Bush administration’s part to account for the potential fallout from military action. He also raised questions about the potential death toll not only among Americans, but also Iraqi civilians, and the billions of dollars that would have to go toward a rebuilding effort.

Biden’s skepticism, however, was largely reserved for the Bush administration’s specific ask: a catch-all war authorization for Iraq. Biden supported a narrower war power authorization prioritizing the WMDs. He joined Republicans Sens. Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel, the latter of whom would go on to be Obama’s defense secretary years later, in crafting an amendment to the war authorization to limit the scope of Bush’s powers.

But another Democrat foiled that effort: Rep. Dick Gephardt, the House minority leader, struck a deal with Bush to authorize the use of military force in a war — a move that angered Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate, including Biden. Gephardt, at the time weighing a presidential run, was accused of playing politics.

And Biden blinked.

The vote in the Senate was held on October 11, 2002. The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution passed the Democrat-controlled Senate 77 to 23; 29 Democrats voted in support, including Biden. The final resolution gave Bush broad power to go to war in Iraq.

“The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq,” it reads.

In the hours of debate that preceded the vote, Biden echoed the Bush administration’s rhetoric.

“I do not believe it is a rush to war but a march to peace and security,” Biden said on the Senate floor. “I believe failure to overwhelmingly support this resolution is likely to enhance the prospects that war would occur.”

Biden’s wartime alliance with Republicans

Bush declared the start of the war in March 2003 with a campaign of hundreds of airstrikes on military targets intended to “shock and awe” Hussein and his forces. By May, Hussein’s government had fallen, and Bush had declared “Mission Accomplished.”

But it was only the beginning.

In Biden’s retelling, the war authorization was only a means to strengthen Bush’s position in diplomatic talks. But to Bush, it was clear the war authorization was more than just diplomatic strategy — a sentiment reflected in Biden’s own rhetoric at the time. Congress had given Bush broad power to use military force, and he did.

“I think Biden really did believe that getting a United National Security Council resolution would have gotten the inspections,” the former Senate aide said. “Pretty early on he understood that the situation was not going well. The Bush administration was signaling that we won this thing and Biden, Chuck Hagel, and John McCain were three credible voices saying there’s something else going on here.”

Democrats lost control of the Senate in the 2002 midterm elections, meaning Biden also lost control of the Foreign Relations Committee chair. The following years for Biden, until Democrats retook control in 2006, were defined by his close relationships with Republicans like McCain, Hagel, and Lugar, who chaired the Foreign Relations Committee. They travelled to Iraq together, did press tours together, and praised each other’s judgment (though Biden’s relationship with McCain would eventually sour in the run-up to the 2008 election).

During this time, Biden’s position was that the war was “vastly underfunded and undermanned,” as he told PBS in June 2003. “We’re so woefully unprepared because of judgments made from the failure to plan before we went in of what we were going to do in the aftermath.”

In July 2003, Biden during a Senate hearing pressed then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and two other top officials about the administration’s low-balling of costs to fund the war, asking, “When are you guys starting to be honest with us?”

But even then, Biden wasn’t entirely critical of the decision to invade Iraq.

“We have town councils set up. There is actual nascent democracy beginning to flourish there. The oil fields didn’t get blown up. There is relative peace in the north,” Biden said in a July 2003 interview with CNN:

I’m not suggesting there are not successes. I want us to succeed there, but everybody you will speak to who knows anything about this will tell you we need another 5,000 — our own people tell us we need another 5,000 European police officers on the ground now to help train their police. We need another 30,000 forces from other countries to help alleviate the strain on our forces. … If we don’t make real progress very soon, what will happen is we’ll lose the support of the Iraqi people, and then there will be hell to pay. All we’re trying to do is get us to face up to that straight-up now, make the changes necessary, and let’s win this peace.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration’s claim that Hussein had amassed weapons of mass destruction was collapsing. Former diplomat Joseph Wilson wrote in the New York Times that same month that he’d found nothing when the CIA sent him to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq had tried to buy uranium there.

In October 2003, Iraq Survey Group inspector David Kay told Congress that they “have not yet found stocks of weapons.” In July 2004, a Senate intelligence report found that the US intelligence community’s prewar assessment of Iraq’s WMD capabilities had been deeply flawed. A British report that same month also found no evidence of WMDs. The final CIA report came out in late September 2004: Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

And then Biden changed his story. “I never believed they had weapons of mass destruction,” he said at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in October 2004. That statement looks a lot like either a lie in the moment or an inadvertent admission that he had lied in the run-up to the war.

It would be one thing if Biden’s Iraq legacy ended there. But he would only add to it — perhaps in even grander ways — from inside the White House.

Biden’s Maliki decision haunts his Iraq legacy as vice president

The trajectory of Biden’s vice presidency changed dramatically during a June 2009 national security meeting in the Oval Office. “Joe, you do Iraq,” President Barack Obama said, turning to his No. 2. With that, the charge to end the war in Iraq — one of Obama’s signature campaign promises — was Biden’s responsibility.

Those in Obama’s circle say Biden was handed the Iraq portfolio because Obama trusted his years of foreign affairs experience and knowledge about the country. Others were a little skeptical due to Biden’s Senate record, including his advocacy for splitting Iraq up into three separate regions.

But Iraqis who worked with the Obama White House at the time felt there was another reason Biden got the nod: The president didn’t want to wade into what he viewed as his predecessor’s mess.

“They dealt with us as a legacy and baggage,” a senior Iraqi official told Vox, asking for anonymity to speak freely about his interactions with the previous administration. “They weren’t comfortable dealing with Iraq.”

“Biden was more comfortable working with us than the president was,” the official said.

President-elect Barack Obama listens to Vice President-elect Joe Biden describe his recent trip to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Pakistan, on January 14, 2009.
Gerald Herbert/AP

There was no question who spearheaded Iraqi policy in the early days of the Obama administration: By 2014, Biden had made 64 calls to Iraq. Obama, meanwhile, had only made four. It’s why many blame Biden for what happened next — the backing of a brutal sectarian leader, the withdrawal of US troops, and the rise of ISIS.

But debate still rages in Washington and foreign capitals: Was he given an impossible task to manage as best he could, or did he repeatedly make the wrong calls when they mattered most?

Biden backs Nouri al-Maliki

Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia Muslim, became Iraq’s US-backed prime minister in 2006 as the country descended into civil war. He was no one’s idea of a perfect choice, but he did (at least initially) help the US clamp down on widespread violence as the Bush administration sent in a surge of troops in 2007 to quell it.

Biden was against the surge in the Senate. “I totally oppose this surging of additional American troops into Baghdad,” Biden said in 2006, just before becoming the Foreign Relations Committee chair once again. “It’s contrary to the overwhelming body of informed opinion, both inside and outside the administration.”

Maliki’s assistance, mainly in the form of squashing violent Shia militias, would help him stay in America’s good graces for Bush’s final years. He and Bush would even hold weekly video conferences to keep up to date, though the Iraqi premier used the time mostly to gripe about the problems he faced in parliament and the nation writ large.

But it wasn’t until the end of the Bush era and the start of Obama’s presidency that US officials began to seriously question whether Maliki could lead the divided nation.

Starting in 2008, Maliki “began a systematic campaign to destroy the Iraqi state and replace it with his private office and his political party,” Ali Khedery, a former top US diplomat in Baghdad who was close to Maliki, wrote in the Washington Post. Maliki did this by firing professional military leaders he deemed disloyal and replacing them with cronies. He even forced Iraq’s chief justice to ban some of his top political rivals from participating in crucial 2010 parliamentary elections.

Despite his best efforts, Maliki’s State of Law Coalition lost by only two seats to Ayad Allawi’s al-Iraqiya group in that vote. The result gave neither party a clear majority to lead the country, and there was genuine worry in Washington and Baghdad that negotiations to form a ruling coalition could take a year or longer. That was a major problem, as the US needed someone in power to reauthorize a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in 2011 allowing American troops to stay in Iraq with certain legal immunities and basing authorities.

So the key question became: Support the winner Allawi, or continue to back Maliki? “It really was heavily in flux after that election,” Robert Ford, the deputy US ambassador to Iraq from 2008 to 2010, told Vox about the debate inside the American government.

Top US officials, including Ford and James Mattis, then the top US general for the Middle East, pleaded with Biden not to side with Maliki. By that point violence around the country hadn’t gone away but was manageable, and many thought it was the time to focus on reconstruction and economic issues in Iraq. They felt Maliki, who was increasingly acting as an authoritarian, wasn’t the guy to lead the country forward.

“Prime Minister Maliki is highly untrustworthy, Mr. Vice President,” the former Trump defense secretary recalls saying in his new book Call Sign Chaos.

Vice President Joe Biden shakes hand with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during a press conference following a meeting in Baghdad on July 3, 2009.
Khalid Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images

Emma Sky, who was the political adviser to Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, the leader of US troops in Iraq, recounted to me a meeting she had with Biden in August 2010. “Iraqis had voted for change,” Sky, a British national, argued to the vice president, “and you have to show people that change can come about through politics, otherwise they’ll revert back to violence.”

“And he goes on about how Al Gore really won the 2000 presidential election,” she continued. “He kept giving these analogies that weren’t exactly appropriate.”

But for Biden it was appropriate. As many who came to understand Biden’s thinking told Vox, he viewed Iraq through two prisms. The first was that its political problems were similar to those in America, where even the highest tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq could be overcome like political squabbles between Democrats and Republicans in the US. That led to the second prism, which was that the key to solving Iraq’s issues was to get its people over their ancient hatreds.

“Look, I know these people,” Biden told Sky in that August 2010 meeting. “My grandfather was Irish and hated the British. It’s like in the Balkans. They all grow up hating each other.”

That view bothered Sky. “He really felt he understood Iraq,” she told Vox. “That’s pretty scary because even experts are surprised about what Iraq is like.”

“I don’t think Biden is a great intellect. He relies on his instincts and feeling,” Sky continued.

That sense seems to have led Biden to back Maliki, despite some advice to the contrary. Part of that was because Biden and others in the administration knew the Iraqi premier well enough to work with him, despite his faults.

“There was a very strong contingent that said Maliki is that devil we know,” Jeffrey Feltman, who headed the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said of Biden and others in an interview with the Atlantic in June.

The other reason is that Maliki had more political backing in Iraq to stay in power than Allawi had to take it, as even some of Maliki and Biden’s critics admitted to me. The Shia firmly supported Maliki — as did Iran — and it was difficult for Allawi to gain enough support to take over.

Due to Biden’s backing of Maliki, the US helped to broker a deal that would see him retain the premiership in December 2010 and lead Iraq, even though his party had technically come in second in the election.

Those close to Biden dispute that the US tilted negotiations in Maliki’s favor, saying there wasn’t another viable option. “There was a lot of opposition to him, particularly among the American military, so I was willing to try to delay this thing and see if we could find alternatives,” James Jeffrey, who became the US ambassador to Iraq in August 2010, told Reuters five years ago. “We never found one.”

Even certain Iraqis see it that way, too. “I think they had no choice but to work with the key players of the time,” the senior Iraqi official told Vox. “The US was stuck, but it wasn’t going to reengineer Iraqi politics.”

Either way, Maliki kept his job — and immediately made the work for the US that much harder.

The US withdraws troops from Iraq — and ISIS rises

In 2011, Maliki knew the US was desperate. It wanted a SOFA so it could keep troops in Iraq, giving service members legitimacy to be there and immunity from Iraqi law.

And the premier also surely knew that Biden believed he’d deliver the desired agreement. “Maliki wants us to stick around because he does not see a future in Iraq otherwise,” Biden said during an October 2010 video conference with advisers. “I’ll bet you my vice presidency Maliki will extend the SOFA.”

But Maliki drove a hard bargain, consistently saying he wouldn’t grant immunity to a single American soldier, which derailed negotiations. One theory for his hardline stance, as former US diplomat in Iraq Barbara Leaf posited to the Atlantic in June, is that he “started anticipating the end of US troops and the end of people telling him what to do.”

Whatever the reason, the troops agreement — again, one of the main reasons Biden and the rest of the US had scrambled to help organize an Iraqi administration they thought would be friendly to Washington — didn’t come through. The lack of a deal forced Obama’s hand in October 21, 2011, when he ordered the roughly 45,000 US troops in Iraq out of the country by year’s end.

With more freedom to do what he wanted, Maliki for the next few years continued, and in many cases deepened, his sectarian rule. He built a Shia-dominated sectarian state and refused to take steps to accommodate Sunnis, who already felt disenfranchised by their loss of influence after the US pushed them out of power in 2003. Police killed peaceful Sunni protesters and used anti-terrorism laws to mass-arrest Sunni civilians.

Maliki also made political alliances with violent Shia militias, infuriating and terrifying Sunnis.

ISIS cannily exploited that anger and fear to recruit new fighters from disaffected Sunni communities. With the US distracted by the Arab Spring and the growing civil war in Syria, the Obama administration failed to adequately respond to the clear upswell in the terrorist group’s ranks by late 2013.

“I think the criticism of us that we didn’t see the problem is unfair,” Antony Blinken, a top Obama official and now a Biden campaign adviser, told the Atlantic in the June article. “It’s fair to say that we were not effective in dealing with it before the fact.”

When the US did eventually respond, Biden proved instrumental in coordinating it. The US sent warplanes into Iraq to target ISIS’s militants and told Iraqi leaders that more assistance would come if Maliki stepped aside. The sense was that Maliki’s leadership would only make the problem worse — not to mention that his heavy-handed policies had helped set the conditions for ISIS’s rise in the first place.

Despite struggling mightily to stay in power, eventually Maliki stepped down in August 2014. Of course, for some it was too little too late: the US had backed Maliki and withdrew troops that could’ve helped avert disaster.

But the vice president was also a key player in developing the strategy, touted by US generals ever since, to work with local allies to fight ISIS on the ground and retake the territory it had captured in Iraq and Syria — a mission that was eventually completed by the Trump administration in March.

ISIS is still not defeated, and Trump’s policies in Syria might help it make a comeback. What’s more, Iraq still remains in strife, with weeks-long protests rocking the country and threatening widespread violence. The question for many is how much blame Biden shoulders for Iraq’s recent past and current state.

The answer depends on whom you ask.

Has Biden’s Iraq legacy gotten “worse”?

Everyone Vox spoke to for this story, even Biden’s fiercest critics on Iraq, unfailingly said that Biden then had a warm presence, and came to meetings extremely prepared. Few questioned the former vice president’s dedication to get Iraq right during his eight years at the White House, and made clear that Bush made the original sin of invading Iraq in the first place.

But how wrong, so to speak, did Biden end up being when Iraq was his charge?

Ford, the former deputy US ambassador to Iraq, told Vox that most of the country’s ills that time — particularly ISIS’s rise — was Maliki’s fault.

“I do not blame the Obama administration’s decision to withdraw troops entirely from Iraq” because that’s not what led to ISIS, he said. “What I do blame are the incredibly sectarian policies of Maliki. That, more than anything, is what really led to the spread of ISIS.”

But Sky, the top adviser to the US military in Iraq at the time, thinks the Biden-led Iraq policy under Obama was a total failure with far-reaching implications.

“Biden’s legacy has gotten worse,” Sky told Vox. The Obama administration allowed ISIS to gain strength, fuel instability in Syria, and trigger a refugee crisis that helped foment populist politics in Europe — including a vote in favor of Brexit that Sky says might’ve gone differently otherwise. “In America, you don’t feel the consequences of these wars, you’re far away. But in Europe these problems are all on our doorstep.”

The debate over Biden’s Iraq legacy now rests squarely with American voters deciding whether or not he deserves a shot at the top job. Will his time in Iraq and general foreign policy knowledge boost his credentials, or will the problems that faced the Obama administration haunt his candidacy?

That, like Iraq’s future, is still up in the air.

COMPLEMENT:

Joe Biden doesn’t have a perfect foreign policy record. But unlike Trump, he’s learned from his mistakes.

September 27, 2020

In considering Joe Biden’s foreign policy record, it’s hard to overlook the scathing critique delivered by Robert Gates, the Washington wise man and veteran of half a dozen administrations who served as President Barack Obama’s first defense secretary. While Biden was “a man of integrity” who was “impossible not to like,” Gates wrote in a 2014 memoir, “he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

Yikes. For those of us desperately hoping that President Trump’s romances with dictators and wanton destruction of U.S. global influence will soon be brought to an end, Gates’s verdict raises an awkward question: Would Biden not be better? Could he, in his own way, make it all worse?

The short answer is easy: Biden could and would quickly undo the distinctive evils of Trumpism. It wouldn’t be hard for him to call the leaders of Germany and South Korea on Day One and say we’re going back to being your reliable ally. It would be easy for him to say what Trump refuses to: that Vladimir Putin is guilty not just of orchestrating the murder of his domestic opponents but of U.S. troops — and should pay for it. With a couple of strokes of the pen, Biden could put the United States back into the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, and thus rejoin critical multilateral initiatives on climate change and the covid-19 ­pandemic.

But what of his judgment on big questions: Has he really made so many bad calls? Gates doesn’t spell out his case, but it’s not hard to compile one. Biden voted against the successful U.S. military campaign that expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991. In Iraq, he compiled a trifecta of blunders: He voted for the 2003 invasion; opposed the 2007 “surge” that rescued the mission from utter disaster; and oversaw the premature 2011 withdrawal of the last U.S. troops, which opened the way for the Islamic State.

Biden argued against Obama’s 2009 decision to surge U.S. troops in Afghanistan, proposing that the mission should instead limit itself to counterterrorism. But according to Gates, he raised his hand against the most important counter­terrorism operation of recent years, the 2011 special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden. (Biden has said he later encouraged Obama to go ahead.)

That’s a pretty substantial list. To be sure, many of Biden’s Democratic colleagues made the same bad calls (and I, along with The Post’s Editorial Board, supported the Iraq invasion). But a new president won’t be able to afford more big errors. If voters oust Trump, the democratic world probably will grudgingly give U.S. leadership one more chance — but not for long if the new president fails to inspire confidence.

That brings us to the good news about Biden, which comes in three parts. First, his record was always stronger than Gates, a lifelong Republican, made out. Second, it looks better than it did when Gates delivered his assessment six years ago. Best of all, by all accounts the former vice president, unlike Trump, has learned from his mistakes.

Any account of Biden’s foreign policy has to include his role in pushing during the 1990s for stronger U.S. action in the Balkans, including support for the Muslim-majority entities of Bosnia and Kosovo against Serbian aggression. He eventually backed what were arguably the most successful U.S. military interventions of the past 30 years. Though they remain politically troubled, Bosnia and Kosovo have lived in peace for a quarter-century.

Biden’s advocacy on Afghanistan, too, has looked better with time. The troop surge that he opposed and Gates favored ultimately failed to stabilize the country. Today, the formula Biden proposed, a U.S mission dedicated to combating terrorism, would be a considerable improvement on the full pullout Trump has committed to. Biden’s opposition to Obama’s 2011 intervention in Libya also looks good in retrospect: While the bombing campaign saved lives at the time, it triggered a decade of chaos and gave al-Qaeda a new base.

Biden’s career encompasses the U.S. post-Cold War trajectory from confident sole superpower to a more chastened nation facing formidable challenges from China and other autocracies. Along the way, Biden has grown more cautious about the use of force; advisers say Afghanistan, in particular, taught him the limits of what U.S. interventions can accomplish.

Yet Biden still differs from Trump and the Democratic left in his willingness to support smaller-scale military missions, such as that which defeated the Islamic State in Syria. Unlike the current president, he hasn’t abandoned the notion of American leadership. He offers the promise of a U.S.-led coalition that stands up to China and Russia to secure democracy and human rights in the 21st century. If he wins and sticks to that, he won’t go far wrong.

Voir par ailleurs:

Politics
As he campaigns for president, Joe Biden tells a moving but false war story
Former vice president Joe Biden has frequently jumbled the details of a dramatic story from one of his many visits to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. (The Washington Post)
Matt Viser and Greg Jaffe
The Washington Post
August 30, 2019

HANOVER, N.H. — Joe Biden painted a vivid scene for the 400 people packed into a college meeting hall. A four-star general had asked the then-vice president to travel to Konar province in Afghanistan, a dangerous foray into “godforsaken country” to recognize the remarkable heroism of a Navy captain.

Some told him it was too risky, but Biden said he brushed off their concerns.

“We can lose a vice president,” he said. “We can’t lose many more of these kids. Not a joke.”

The Navy captain, Biden recalled Friday night, had rappelled down a 60-foot ravine under fire and retrieved the body of an American comrade, carrying him on his back. Now the general wanted Biden to pin a Silver Star on the American hero who, despite his bravery, felt like a failure.

“He said, ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!’ ” Biden said, his jaw clenched and his voice rising to a shout. “ ‘Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!’ ”

The room was silent.

“This is the God’s truth,” Biden had said as he told the story. “My word as a Biden.”

Except almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect. Based on interviews with more than a dozen U.S. troops, their commanders and Biden campaign officials, it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.

Biden visited Konar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator, not as vice president. The service member who performed the celebrated rescue that Biden described was a 20-year-old Army specialist, not a much older Navy captain. And that soldier, Kyle J. White, never had a Silver Star, or any other medal, pinned on him by Biden. At a White House ceremony six years after Biden’s visit, White stood at attention as President Barack Obama placed a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, around his neck.

The upshot: In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony.

One element of Biden’s story is rooted in an actual event: In 2011, the vice president did pin a medal on a heartbroken soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who didn’t believe he deserved the award.

In a statement Thursday, Biden’s campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Workman’s valor was “emblematic of the duty and sacrifice of the 9/11 generation of veterans.”

The campaign has not disputed any of the facts in the Post report, which was published midday Thursday.

In an interview with Washington Post opinion columnist Jonathan Capehart after the report was first published, Biden suggested he was telling Workman’s story in New Hampshire, although almost none of the details he offered matched what actually happened to Workman.

“I was making the point how courageous these people are, how incredible they are, this generation of warriors, these fallen angels we’ve lost,” he said. “I don’t know what the problem is. What is it that I said wrong?”

Biden, 76, has struggled during his presidential campaign with gaffes and misstatements that hark back to his earlier political troubles and have put a spotlight on his age. In 1987, Biden dropped out of the presidential race amid charges that he had plagiarized the speeches of a British politician and others.

One big question facing candidates and voters more than 30 years later is whether President Trump’s routine falsehoods have changed the standards by which other presidential aspirants, including Biden, should be judged. From the beginning of his presidency until the middle of last month, Trump has uttered more than 12,000 false or misleading statements, The Washington Post has found. He has continued to add to that total since then.

Biden has used war stories to celebrate military sacrifice and attack Trump’s version of patriotism, built around ferocity and firepower. The former vice president, like Trump, never served in the military. But Biden’s son Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015, deployed to Iraq as an Army lawyer in 2008, and the candidate ends almost all of his speeches with the refrain: “May God protect our troops.”

Embedded in Biden’s medal story are the touchstones of his long career: foreign policy expertise, patriotism and perseverance through grief.

Biden’s first public recounting of his trip to Konar province, made shortly after his return in early 2008, was largely true, but not nearly as emotionally fraught as the versions he would later tell on the campaign trail. In 2008, then-Sen. Biden, along with Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), flew by helicopter to Forward Operating Base Naray, not far from Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. There, they watched as Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez presented a Bronze Star for valor to Spec. Miles Foltz, who braved heavy Taliban fire to rescue a wounded soldier. Spec. Tommy Alford had been manning his machine gun atop a hill when a Taliban bullet sliced through his jaw and neck. Foltz pulled Alford behind a nearby rock, stanched his bleeding and then took over his friend’s weapon. Two soldiers were killed during the ambush, but Alford survived and even returned to the unit a few months later to finish his combat tour.

“It was pretty ballsy, what Foltz did that day,” said retired Col. Chris Kolenda, who was Foltz’s commander in Afghanistan. “It was pretty awesome. . . . He saved a lot of lives.”

For Foltz, the memory of Biden’s visit and the Bronze Star remain bittersweet.

“I wrote about it for an English class when I was going through college,” he said. “I can’t remember how I phrased it, but it’s like the medal helps hold down all the guilt for all the things I didn’t do that day.”

Biden returned home from his trip in 2008 worried that the United States was losing the war and moved by the battlefield award ceremony.

“I know it sounds a little corny,” he said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, “but I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.”

Biden seemed to stop telling the story until the summer of 2016, when the presidential campaign was in full swing and Trump was surging to the top of the polls. In July of that year, he told it at a World War II ceremony in Australia. In this version, Foltz, a young soldier, had been replaced by the apocryphal and much older Navy captain who in Biden’s telling “climbed down about 200 feet” into a ravine and retrieved his wounded friend who died. The Bronze Star was upgraded to a Silver Star.

This time, Biden said he was the one who pinned the medal on the officer, not the general. “Sir, with all due respect, I do not want it,” Biden recalled the officer saying.

Months later, as the angry and divisive 2016 presidential campaign kicked into high gear, Biden’s story of the medal ceremony grew more harrowing and less accurate. He told it at an October rally for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in response to comments from Trump suggesting that some troops weren’t mentally strong enough to handle the rigors of combat. “Where the hell is he from?” Biden asked of Trump that day in Florida.

This time, Biden shifted the setting from Afghanistan to Iraq. Instead of rappelling down a ravine, an Army captain pulled a dead soldier out of a burning Humvee.

“He died. He died, Mr. Vice President,” Biden recalled the officer saying. “I don’t want the medal.”

Biden jabbed at the air with his index finger and yelled, “How many nights does that kid go to sleep seeing that image in his head, dealing with it?”

The Pentagon has no record of an Army captain receiving a Silver Star in Iraq during the time period Biden describes.

Three weeks later, stumping for Jason Kander, an Afghan War veteran running for the Senate in Missouri, Biden told both the Iraq and Afghanistan versions back to back in a single speech. First it was the Navy captain who rappelled down the ravine in Konar. “He died. He died. I don’t deserve it,” Biden quoted the medal recipient as saying. Then he segued to the Army officer, the burning Humvee and Iraq. “This is the God’s truth,” Biden said. “As I approached him in a full formation . . . ‘Sir,’ he whispered to me, ‘Sir, please don’t. Please don’t pin that on me. He died, Sir. He died. I didn’t do my job. He died.’ ”

Then, on Friday, came New Hampshire. The setting was a town hall meeting about health care. Someone asked a question about mental health and Biden started talking about post-traumatic stress disorder and the heavy toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He pulled his daily schedule from the pocket of his blue blazer, an American flag pin affixed to its lapel. For the past 13 years, Biden’s rundown has included a daily tally of the dead and wounded from the war zones.

“I call every morning to the Defense Department — not a joke — to learn exactly how many women and men have been killed in Afghanistan or Iraq,” he told the crowd. “Nothing bothers me more than when someone says approximately 6,000 died. No, it is 6,883 as of this morning.”

Then Biden told the latest, and perhaps most inaccurate, version of his Afghanistan story.

“I’ve been in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq over 30 times,” he said. (His campaign later clarified that the correct number is 21.) He talked about Konar province, the Navy captain — “Navy, Navy” he repeated for emphasis — the deep ravine, the dead friend and the moment of reckoning when Biden pinned the medal on the officer’s uniform.

The version of Biden’s story that’s true — and just as heart-rending — is one he rarely tells. The setting was not Konar province, but Wardak, just southwest of Kabul. The medal recipient was Workman, 35, who had run into a burning vehicle to save his dying friend. By the time Workman had pried open the door and plunged into the flames, it was too late.

Listen on Cape Up: Biden responds to criticism of his so-called ‘gaffes’

“I never pulled him out because he was melting,” Workman recalled in a phone interview earlier this week from Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.

Workman’s company commander told him that the vice president was going to pin a Bronze Star on him for his heroism. “I tried to get out of going,” recalled Workman, who has since been promoted to first sergeant. “I didn’t want that medal.” Nevertheless on Jan. 11, 2011, a cold, gray day, Workman stood at attention as Biden pinned the medal to his chest. The moment is memorialized in a White House photo and in a 2016 interview that Biden did with National Geographic.

Here’s how Biden remembered it: “You see the look on his face — he says, ‘Sir, I don’t want it. I don’t want it. He died. He died.’ ”

Workman’s version is the same, but with one added detail. He recalled Biden meeting his gaze. Workman told the vice president that he didn’t want the medal.

“I know you don’t,” Biden replied softly.

Eight years later, Workman still remembers how Biden looked at him.

“He has that look where his eyes can see into your eyes,” Workman said. “I felt like he really understood.”

Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Voir aussi:

Fake News Can Give Us False Memories, Study Finds

A new study proves just how easy it is to manipulate people into believing propaganda and misinformation

EJ Dickson

Rolling stone

Aug. 22, 2019

In the years following the 2016 election, we’ve all slowly become aware of how widespread misinformation is, as well as the extent to which Big Tech has largely turned a blind eye to it. What we don’t really talk about, however, is how susceptible many of us are to fake news — and how much our preconceived notions of the world play into our willingness to buy into bullshit. An Irish study published in the journal Psychological Science, however, offers a terrifying glimpse at how easily we can be manipulated, and how difficult it truly is for many of us to discern between fact and fiction.

Led by Gillian Murphy, a lecturer at the School of Applied Psychology at the University College County Cork, the study took place one week before the 2018 initiative to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which made abortion totally illegal except in cases where the pregnancy posed a significant risk to the mother’s life. The researchers asked more than 3,000 eligible voters how they planned to vote in the referendum, then presented them with six news stories about the abortion referendum, two of which were fabricated and featured inflammatory behavior from partisans on both sides of the issue. The subjects were then asked whether they’d heard the stories before, and if so, if they had any memories about them. The goal was not just to determine how susceptible the subjects were to the lure of “fake news,” but also whether certain stories were more likely to resonate with them according to their specific political views — regardless of whether the story was true or not.

As it turns out, nearly half of the subjects reported having previous memories of having read stories that were totally fabricated, with some even reporting details of the stories that were not contained in the (again, totally made-up) articles the researchers showed them. In itself, this is not surprising: as anyone who has watched Jimmy Kimmel’s noxious Lie Witness News segment knows, it’s far from uncommon for people to pretend to be more news-savvy than they actually are, and claiming to have prior knowledge of totally made-up news stories certainly falls in line with that impulse.

What is more terrifying, however, is that people were far more likely to remember false information if it aligned with their political views. And this was true regardless of where they fell on the spectrum: those who supported legalizing abortion, for instance, were more likely to remember false and inflammatory details about people in the anti-choice contingent, while people who were against legalizing abortion were more likely to remember false and inflammatory details about those who supported legalization. In other words, people recalled the information that already confirmed their point of view, regardless of whether that information was true or not — and what’s worse, even after the researchers told them that some of the news stories were fake, they failed to correctly identify which ones.

The implications of this study are clear: not only is it shockingly easy for bad actors to manipulate people by exploiting their biases, but it’s also not easy for people to readjust their perspectives after they’ve been manipulated, even if they’ve been explicitly told that’s the case. “People will act on their fake memories, and it is often hard to convince them that fake news is fake,” co-author Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine said in a press release. With many social media platforms steadfastly refusing to censor or deprioritize inaccurate or poorly vetted information, as evidenced by Twitter allowing the #ClintonBodyCount and #TrumpBodyCount conspiracy theory hashtags to trend after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead, it’s incredibly easy for this information to both spread and appear legitimate to the average media user.

Not everyone is susceptible to the lure of fake news: according to the results of the cognitive tests the researchers gave to the subjects of the study, people who scored low were more likely to remember fake stories that fed into their political beliefs than people who scored higher. Again, this is not super surprising: it makes sense that smarter people would be more skeptical about the media they consume than, uh, the less intellectually rigorous among us. But in the months leading up to the 2020 election, when our feeds will inevitably be barraged with sensationalist headlines and hashtags, these results aren’t exactly comforting.

Voir encore:

Mental Mishaps

Joe Biden and the Case for False Memories

Memories, false memories, non-believed memories, and politicians.

Ira Hyman Ph.D.

Psychology today

Aug 30, 2019

Recent news reports indicate that while campaigning for president, Joe Biden has told a compelling story of wartime heroism and of awarding a soldier a medal. Unfortunately, the story appears to be false. But Biden probably isn’t lying. Instead, Biden has demonstrated a common memory error.

When we remember, we often feel that we are completely accurate. Our memories feel true. We can see the details. We know we don’t remember everything, but we do recall many things⁠—and we trust those recollections. But memory isn’t like a video of a past event.

Instead, we reconstruct our memories each time we remember and share a story. We take some details from one event in memory. Maybe add in a few details from similar, but different, events. Combine that with some general knowledge. Mix these pieces together and create a new memory. We can also lead people to create false memories. When we simply give people a few suggestions, they can create rather dramatic false memories (see spilled punch and false memories).

How do we know that Joe Biden’s memory is probably false? His story has recently been checked by reporters at the Washington Post. Biden has repeatedly told a story about awarding a medal to a soldier who had recovered the body of a fallen comrade. This supposedly occurred in Afghanistan when Biden was Vice President. But the Post reporters checked and could not find support for the story. Biden didn’t give such a medal when visiting Afghanistan. Biden has actually told variations of this story since his time as a senator⁠—going back to 2008, before he served as VP. The Post tracked the changes in the story over time. They considered other events that Biden may have combined into the story he now tells. But the final conclusion is simple: Biden’s story isn’t true.

This example is a goldmine for a cognitive psychologist who studies memory. We know that everyone makes these errors. Obviously, politicians do. For example, Ronald Reagan liked to tell an old war story. But that story most likely came from a war movie (Johnson, 2006). More recently, reporters fact checked various stories from Ben Carson’s autobiography when he ran for president. Some of Carson’s autobiographical memories were also probably constructions. As I noted about Carson, the rest of us should be glad that the fact checkers don’t follow up on every autobiographical story that we tell. Some of our beloved memories would undoubtedly be false memories. Maybe most would be false memories, at least to a certain extent.

This is why the Biden story is so interesting. The reporters looked at the various versions of the story that Biden has told for the last several years. They tracked the changes as he talked with different audiences. They considered other events that may have been combined to create the version Biden currently tells.

This is what memory researchers can seldom accomplish. We can lead people to create false memories⁠—something many of us have done (for a nice review, check Scoboria et al, 2017). But we never do the long-term versions of tracking the memories as they continue to change. When the study is over, we don’t track people down. We don’t look at changes in memories over the course of years. But Biden’s memory is completely consistent with the predictions of memory theory. People reconstruct. They reconstruct each time they recall an event. The memories may continue to change as we continue to share the story.

Finally, I want to make an important point. The observation that politicians share memories that don’t match what actually happened isn’t necessarily problematic. Politicians remain human, so we should expect their memories to be reconstructed like everyone else’s. The only meaningful question to ask is how they respond when confronted with the different versions. Do they acknowledge that their memories have changed? This could provide evidence for something else fascinating about memories.

We sometimes are confronted with clear evidence that what we remember isn’t true. Nonetheless, we continue to remember the event. But now, we may have a memory that we no longer trust. Alan Scoboria called these non-believed memories (Scoboria et al., 2014). The memory remains, but we no longer trust it.

I discovered one of my memories cannot be true. I recalled attending a conference and wandering around an interesting city with a good academic friend. The problem? That friend did not attend that conference. My memory is clearly false. But the memory remains. I can still see and recall the event in my mind. Now I know, however, that the memory is false. I no longer believe my memory.

All of us reconstruct memories. Most of us have some memories that we no longer believe. The difference between politicians and the rest of us? Most of us don’t have reporters fact-checking every experience we share with others.

References

Johnson, M. K. (2006). Memory and reality. American Psychologist, 61, 760-771.

Scoboria et al. (2014). The role of belief in occurrence within autobiographical memories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 1242-1258.

Scoboria, A., Wade, K., Lindsay, D. S., Azad, T., Strange, D., Ost, J., Hyman, I. E., Jr. (2017). A mega-analysis of memory reports from eight peer-reviewed false memory implantation studies.  Memory, 25, 146-163.  DOI: 10.1080/09658211.2016.1260747

COMPLEMENT:

A Demagogue Named Barack Obama: His DNC Speech

Dennis Prager
Townhall
Aug 25, 2020
On the day Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, I announced on my national radio show that, « While I did not vote for Barack Obama, he is my president, and I wish him well. » I added that I was delighted a black man had been elected president of the United States, that perhaps this would not only help black-white relations get even better than they were but also help put to rest the notion of a racist America.As it turned out, neither hope was achieved. In fact, in large measure due to Obama, race relations deteriorated during his presidency. Obama turned out to be Black Lives Matter Light. As Politico wrote in 2014, Al Sharpton, perhaps the most consistent race-baiter of the last half-century, « became Obama’s go-to man on race. » According to The Washington Post, Sharpton visited the Obama White House 72 times.Obama is idolized by liberals and leftists because he was an activist liberal whose goal, in his own words, right before he was first elected, was « fundamentally transforming the United States of America. » And because they love his cool, even-tempered, regal style.That style masks a demagoguery that far surpasses our current president. It was on display last week when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention.Obama: « I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care. But he never did. … Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.These ad hominem attacks by a previous president on his successor are unique in my lifetime. Perhaps they are unique in modern American history. George W. Bush, for example, never said a critical word of Barack Obama, despite the latter’s frequent attacks on Bush’s presidency.Obama: « And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone. »America ranks tenth in deaths per million. Are the greater proportion of deaths per million in countries such as Belgium, Spain, the U.K., Italy and Sweden the result of corrupt and/or inept leaders? Was President Donald Trump responsible, for example, for the decision made by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to order nursing homes to accept COVID-19 cases, causing the virus to sweep through the elderly in those facilities, resulting in at least 6,000 deaths (and likely many more that New York is hiding from the official count)?Regarding « millions of jobs gone, » they are gone overwhelmingly because of the lockdowns ordered by state governors and mayors, not the virus. Lockdowns, we were told, would last two weeks to « flatten the curve, » but they continue six months later in many Democratically controlled cities and states.Obama: « And our democratic institutions threatened like never before. »Obama offers not one example of this or of his many other attacks on Trump. There is a reason. Obama has always attacked straw men. During his presidency, I analyzed about 20 of his speeches. They and his off-the-cuff comments were always characterized by straw-men arguments.Even The New York Times, in 2009, when it still published occasional articles that deviated from the left, featured an article by Helene Cooper (who is black), its then-White House correspondent, titled « Some Obama Enemies Are Made Totally of Straw. » In it, Cooper cited example after example of statements ostensibly made by others, but actually made up by Obama — which he then proceeded to shoot down. This characterized his approach to discourse throughout his presidency and continued with last week’s speech at the DNC.Obama: « Joe and Kamala will restore our standing in the world — and as we’ve learned from this pandemic, that matters. »Obama, like all on the left, equate America’s « standing in the world » with its president’s standing with the left. Nonleftists do not. Last year, when the courageous Hong Kong demonstrators waved a flag representing liberty, they waved the flag of the United States of America. Apparently, America’s standing with them is pretty high.Obama: « (Joe and Kamala) believe that in a democracy, the right to vote is sacred. »Another straw man. Who doesn’t believe « the right to vote is sacred » — those who insist on people having an ID when they vote, as voters do in virtually every other country? Or is it those who don’t believe in sending tens of millions of ballots to people who never signed up to receive an absentee ballot?Obama: « I understand why a new immigrant might look around this country and wonder whether there’s still a place for him here. »Really? What new legal immigrant thinks that way? Or is Obama dishonestly conflating legal with illegal immigrants? The answer is, of course, he is (though even illegal immigrants apparently believe there’s a place for them here; isn’t that, after all, why they come?).Obama: « This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win. »How has this administration shown that? Why didn’t Obama provide a single example to sustain this extraordinary charge? Anyway, it seems to many Americans that those who lie to the country for two years about Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, impeach a president solely for political reasons, dedicate all news reporting to the removal of a president, smear and lie about a decent man nominated for the Supreme Court, corrupt the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act system for political ends, and politicize the CIA and FBI are the ones who « will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win. »Obama’s speech offered very little of substance about the man it was directed against, but it said much about the man who delivered it.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is « The Rational Bible, » a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, « No Safe Spaces, » will be released to home entertainment nationwide on September 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

Voir aussi:

Retour sur quinze années d’erreurs de Biden en Irak

Fervent partisan de l’invasion américaine de l’Irak, en 2003, Joe Biden a même plaidé pour la division de ce pays en trois entités autonomes, tout en stigmatisant la France en termes injurieux.

Un si Proche orient

Alors que Barack Obama s’opposait courageusement à l’invasion de l’Irak, en 2003, son futur vice-président en était un chaud partisan au Sénat. Joe Biden est allé encore plus loin que la plupart des « faucons », proposant en 2006-2007 que l’Irak soit divisé en trois entités autonomes, sunnite, chiite et kurde, ce qui n’aurait fait qu’aggraver la guerre civile alors en cours, elle-même directement causée par l’occupation américaine. Il est important de revenir sur cet épisode, très révélateur de la vision du Moyen-Orient du prochain locataire de la Maison blanche, afin que l’idéalisation du vainqueur de Donald Trump ne conduise pas à de nouvelles et sérieuses désillusions.

UN « FAUCON » PRET A DIVISER L’IRAK

Biden, sénateur du Delaware depuis 1973, préside la puissante commission des Affaires étrangères quand, à l’été 2002, il relaie la propagande de l’administration Bush sur les « armes de destruction massive » que détiendrait l’Irak: « Saddam Hussein doit abandonner ces armes ou il doit abandonner le pouvoir ». Un tel soutien est essentiel pour la Maison blanche, confrontée à un Sénat majoritairement démocrate. En octobre 2002, Biden est un des 29 sénateurs démocrates à voter, contre l’avis de 23 autres et aux côtés de 48 élus républicains, le chèque en blanc qui permet à George W. Bush de mener la guerre à sa guise en Irak. En juillet 2003, trois mois après le renversement de Saddam Hussein, et malgré l’échec des 150.000 soldats américains en Irak à trouver la moindre trace d’armes de destruction massive, Biden persiste et signe: « Je l’ai dit l’an passé, et je le crois aujourd’hui, avec les milliards de dollars à la disposition de Saddam, je n’ai aucun doute qu’au bout de cinq ans, il aurait gagné accès à une arme nucléaire tactique ».

Le toujours sénateur Biden participe alors activement à la campagne de dénigrement de la France, accusée de tous les maux pour ne pas avoir soutenu l’invasion américaine de l’Irak: « Nous savons tous que les Français ont été tout sauf coopératifs, qu’ils ont même été casse-c… » (a pain in the you-know-what). Cette diffamation du plus vieil allié des Etats-Unis s’accompagne d’une manoeuvre de Biden pour réécrire sa propre histoire sur l’Irak: en octobre 2004, il affirme « n’avoir jamais cru à la détention d’armes de destruction massive » par le régime de Saddam. Alors que la constitution d’un Irak fédéral et démocratique est approuvée par référendum en octobre 2005, donnant de larges pouvoirs au gouvernement régional du Kurdistan, dans le nord du pays, Biden propose, six mois plus tard, d’aller encore plus loin en divisant l’Irak en trois entités sunnite, chiite et kurde, le pouvoir central de Bagdad étant réduit au minimum. Cette partition de fait du pays suscite d’autant plus d’oppositions qu’elle risquerait offrir aux jihadistes de « l’Etat islamique en Irak » (EII) le contrôle sur une zone vidée de sa population chiite.

UNE VISION CONFESSIONNELLE DU MOYEN-ORIENT

Dans un Irak encore largement multicommunautaire, surtout à Bagdad, le « plan Biden » aurait contribué, s’il avait été adopté, à accélérer le nettoyage ethnique perpétré par les milices confessionnelles. La logique tripartite du sénateur démocrate est transposée abruptement depuis la Bosnie-Herzégovine, où elle n’a pourtant conduit qu’à paralyser l’autorité de Sarajevo. Elle est en outre terrible pour les groupes minoritaires que sont les Chrétiens, les Turkmènes ou les Yézidis, livrés à l’arbitraire du groupe dominant dans son secteur respectif d’Irak. Biden s’oppose en revanche au « surge » américain en Irak, où les renforts déployés s’appuient sur des milices sunnites, dites du « Réveil » (Sahwa), pour refouler, et finalement vaincre les groupes jihadistes. Biden préfère plutôt poursuivre le mirage de son « plan », approuvé par un vote non-contraignant du Sénat en septembre 2007, au moment même où un sondage conduit par la BBC en Irak donne 9% de réponses favorables à une division de l’Irak (contre 62% en faveur d’un gouvernement central digne de ce nom).

La vision de l’Irak par Biden est définie par des critères strictement confessionnels, sans prise en compte du sentiment national irakien, ni des conséquences pour le reste du Moyen-Orient d’un éclatement du pays. Quand Obama confie, en 2009, le dossier irakien à son vice-président, celui-ci va miser sans réserve sur l’homme fort de la communauté chiite, Nouri al-Maliki, Premier ministre depuis 2006. Biden apporte ainsi un soutien déterminant au maintien de Maliki à son poste, en novembre 2010. Peu importe l’autoritarisme de plus en plus agressif du chef du gouvernement irakien, sa coopération de plus en plus étroite avec l’Iran et son acharnement sectaire contre les milices sunnites du « Réveil », seul compte pour Biden la réussite du retrait américain hors d’Irak en 2011. Cette politique américaine à très courte vue favorise le retour de flamme de l’EII qui, en 2013, prend pied dans la Syrie voisine et devient « l’Etat islamique en Irak et en Syrie », connu sous son acronyme arabe de Daech. Ce n’est qu’en août 2014, deux mois après la chute de Mossoul et un mois après la proclamation du pseudo-califat jihadiste, que Biden abandonnera enfin Maliki, contraint de quitter le pouvoir. il n’en pèsera pas moins en faveur d’une couverture aérienne des Etats-Unis aux milices pro-iraniennes, qui a permis aux Gardiens de la Révolution d’étendre leurs réseaux dans tout le pays et les a placés en position de force lors de la crise de janvier dernier.

Ce rappel de l’histoire irakienne de Biden prouve que, chaque fois qu’il a eu à trancher, le sénateur, devenu vice-président, a toujours choisi l’option la plus risquée en termes de conflit international et de guerre civile. Et rien ne prouve que le futur président ait tiré la moindre leçon de tant d’erreurs passées.

2 Responses to Présidentielle américaine: Faux prolo et vrai apparatchik, quel meilleur argument pour la réélection du président Trump ? (Lunch bucket Joe: Only in a place as removed from reality as the Beltway could a man who has spent more than three decades in the US Senate be hailed as a working-class stiff)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    LE PRÉSIDENT TRUMP A MIS UN TERME A LA DEPLORATION DE L’AMÉRIQUE D’ABORD (Et a fait ce que Barack Obama et Joe Biden ont refusé de faire: défendre l’Amérique contre ses ennemis, et bâtissant sur les progrès de notre passé et débloquant la promesse de notre avenir, rendre l’Amérique même plus libre, plus juste et meilleure pour tout le monde et préserver cette bénédiction vivante pour la prochaine génération)

    PRESIDENT TRUMP PUT AN END TO BLAMING AMERICA FIRST (And did what Barack Obama and Joe Biden refused to do: stand up for America and against its enemies, and building on the progress of our past and unlocking the promise of our future, make America even freer, fairer, and better for everyone and keep that blessing alive for the next generation)

    « I’m Nikki Haley, and it’s great to be back at the Republican National Convention. I’ll start with the little story. It’s about an American ambassador to the United Nations, and it’s about a speech she gave to this convention. She called for the reelection of the Republican president she served, and she called out his democratic opponent, a former vice president from a failed administration.

    That ambassador said, and I quote, “Democrats always blame America first.” The year was 1984, the president was Ronald Reagan and ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick’s words are just as true today. Joe Biden and the Democrats are still blaming America first. Donald Trump has always put America first, and he has earned four more years as president. It was an honor of a lifetime to serve as the United States ambassador to the United nations. Now the UN is not for the faint of heart. It’s a place where dictators, murderers and thieves denounce America, and then put their hands out and demand that we pay their bills.

    Well, president Trump put an end to all of that. With his leadership, we did what Barack Obama and Joe Biden refused to do. We stood up for America and we stood against our enemies. Obama and Biden let North Korea threaten America. President Trump rejected that weakness, and we passed the toughest sanctions on North Korea in history. Obama and Biden let Iran get away with murder and literally sent them a plane full of cash.

    President Trump did the right thing and ripped up the Iran nuclear deal. Obama and Biden led the United nations to denounce our friend and ally, Israel. President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem, and when the UN tried to condemn us, I was proud to cast the American veto. This president has a record of strength and success. The former vice president has a record of weakness and failure. Joe Biden is good for Iran and ISIS, great for communist China. And he’s a godsend to everyone who wants America to apologize, abstain and abandon our values.

    Donald Trump takes a different approach. He’s tough on China, and he took on ISIS and won, and he tells the world what it needs to hear. At home, the president is the clear choice on jobs in the economy. He’s moved America forward, while Joe Biden has held America back. When Joe was VP, I was governor of the great state of South Carolina. We had a pretty good run, manufacturers of all kinds flock to our state from overseas, creating tens of thousands of American jobs.

    People were referring to South Carolina as the beast of the Southeast, which I loved. Everything we did happened in spite of Joe Biden and his old boss. We cut taxes, they raised them. We slashed red tape, they piled on more mandates. And when we brought in good paying jobs, Biden and Obama sued us. I fought back and they gave up.

    A Biden-Harris administration would be much, much worse. Last time, Joe’s boss was Obama. This time it would be Pelosi, Sanders and the squad. Their vision for America is socialism. And we know that socialism has failed everywhere. They want to tell Americans how to live, what to think, they want a government takeover of healthcare. They want to ban fracking and kill millions of jobs. They want massive tax hikes on working families. Joe Biden, and the socialist left would be a disaster for our economy. But president Trump is leading a new era of opportunity.

    Before communist China gave us the coronavirus, we were breaking economic records left and right, the pandemic has set us back, but not for long, president. Trump brought our economy back before and he will bring it back again. There’s one more important area where the president is right. He knows that political correctness and cancel culture are dangerous and just plain wrong. In much of the Democratic party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie.

    America is not a racist country. This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. They came to America and settled in a small Southern town. My father wore a turban, my mother wore a saree. I was a brown girl in a black and white world. We faced discrimination and hardship, but my parents never gave in to grievance and hate. My mom built a successful business. My dad taught 30 years at a Historically Black College, and the people of South Carolina chose me as their first minority and first female governor.

    America is a story that’s a work in progress. Now is the time to build on that progress and make America even freer, fairer, and better for everyone. That’s why it’s so tragic to see so much of the Democratic party, turning a blind eye towards riots and rage. The American people know we can do better. And of course we value and respect every black life. The black cops who’ve been shot in the line of duty, they matter.

    The black, small business owners who’ve watched their life’s work go up and flames, they matter. The black kids who’ve been gunned down on the playground, their lives matter too. And their lives are being ruined and stolen by the violence on our streets. It doesn’t have to be like this. It wasn’t like this in South Carolina, five years ago. Our state came face to face with evil: a white supremacist walked into Mother Emmanuel Church during Bible study. 12 African-Americans pulled up a chair and prayed with him for an hour. Then he began to shoot. After that horrific tragedy, we didn’t turn against each other.

    We came together, black and white, Democrat and Republican. Together, we made the hard choices needed to heal and removed a divisive symbol peacefully and respectfully. What happened then should give us hope now. America, isn’t perfect, but the principles we hold dear are perfect. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America. It’s time to keep that blessing alive for the next generation.

    This president and this party are committed to that noble task. We seek a nation that rises together, not falls apart in anarchy and anger. We know that the only way to overcome America’s challenges is to embrace America’s strengths. We are striving to reach a brighter future, where every child goes to a world-class school chosen by their parents. Where every family lives in a safe community with good jobs, where every entrepreneur has the freedom to achieve and inspire. Where every believer can worship without fear, and every life is protected. Where every girl and boy, every woman and man of every race and religion has the best shot at the best shot at the best life.

    In this election, we must choose the only candidate who has and who will continue delivering on that vision. President Trump and Vice President Pence have my support and America has our promise. We will build on the progress of our past and unlock the promise of our future. That future starts when the American people reelect president Donald Trump. Thank you, good night, and may God always bless America. »

    Nikki Haley

    J'aime

  2. jcdurbant dit :

    QUEL MEILLEUR CHOIX POUR RÉPARER UN SYSTÈME DEFAILLANT QUE QUELQU’UN QUI EN FAIT PARTIE DEPUIS PRÈS DE 50 ANS ?

    WHAT BETTER CHOICE TO FIX A BROKEN SYSTEM THAN SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN PART OF IT FOR NEARLY 50 YEARS ?

    « This man who has been part of the broken system since 1972 is our last hope to fix the broken system. See, since he’s been part of the problem for so long, only he knows how bad the problem is. So only he can fix it. If you got some outsider with, like, morals and stuff, they would be too horrified to even go to Washington in the first place. No, we need someone who’s been part of the swamp and has participated in much injustice, oppression, and bloodshed to fix the whole thing from the ground up. »

    DNC spokesperson

    https://babylonbee.com/news/man-who-has-been-in-government-for-48-years-promises-to-fix-government

    J'aime

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