Niall Ferguson & Gideon Rachman on ‘Sleepy Joe’. Political Observer comments

In his column of Sunday March 8, 2020, Niall Ferguson:

Headline: Sleepy Joe Biden has given Donald Trump a wake-up call

Sub-headline: Despite his senior moments, the comeback codger has a real shot

I know Joe Biden. Not well, but well enough to have had a good chat when we ran into one another at the Irish embassy in Washington on St Patrick’s Day last year. I must also confess to rather liking Biden. In 2015 I argued that he would win if he ran the next year. He would certainly have been a more engaging candidate than Hillary Clinton, especially in those key states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that carried Donald Trump to the White House.

A veteran professional politician of the homely, Irish-American, middle-class, press-the-flesh variety, Biden overcame personal tragedy (the 1972 car accident that killed his first wife and daughter and seriously injured his two sons) to become the reassuringly conventional vice-president to Barack Obama — not only the first black president but just 47 when elected. Because, folks, Biden is exactly what central casting used to think a US president should look like.

In an essay that eventually devolves into near seriocomic tones, Mr. Ferguson offers more than a collection of speculations, hypotheticals , taken to the point of the preposterous. In its place Ferguson offers some political analysis, that the reader can evaluate. While, like most of his supporters, fails to address the Biden’s glaringly obvious cognitive deficit, to put it blandly.  In the Neo-Liberal World ‘Sleepy Joe’ is the last best hope against the populist menace Sanders! While the contest within the Democratic Party is yet to be decided. 

Compare Ferguson’s analysis, with its undertone of near contempt, to Mr. Rachman’s sweeping cast of characters , framing his essay :

a Harvard professor, Gerald Ford, Many Europeans, Barack Obama, coronavirus-induced recession, leading foreign-policy thinkers, Kurt Campbell and Jake Sullivan, Those in the Middle East and Europe, Syria , Afghanistan,  Tehran, Oval Office, Department of Justice,  “make American moral again”, realpolitik, Mr Modi’s rule, Reactionary nationalists, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The tentative nature of the present contest between Biden and Sanders, yet to be decided, renders Mr. Rachman’s descriptions of an imminent politics, and its various possibilities , not to speak of the large cast of political actors, as mere highfalutin garnish. That passes as adroit political analysis? Or is it a hybrid of hybrid’s like Capote’s Non-Fiction Novel? 

Let me speculate about a political scenario : what happens when candidate Biden , in a debate with Trump, experiences the confusion of a man, unable to articulate a rational argument, to one of Trump’s challenges? Or, could this moment occur in a debate between Sanders and Biden? when the viewers will see, with stunning clarity, the cognitive impairment of Biden? The current mythology is that Biden overcame a stutter, and these lapses are just a nagging re-occurrence. Yet there is video evidence that renders this claim dubious, to say the least.

Political Observer



About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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