Janan Ganesh on Joe Biden’s ‘deceptive radicalism’. Old Socialist expresses his scorn

The latest bizarre twist, in this election year, is that Republican John Kasich will speak at the Democratic Convention. He being part of the ‘Never Trumper’ contingent. This coterie somehow finds Joe Biden, even in his state of advanced cogitative deficit, a wiser choice than Trump.
Now Mr. Ganesh, or the headline writers of this newspaper, present the reader with:

Headline: The deceptive radicalism of Joe Biden

Sub-headline: His pragmatic image would provide Democrats with cover for unexpectedly bold policies

The opening paragraph is an almost a comic riff, or just the product of rhetorical blundering ?

The Soviet Union used to alternate between bald leaders and ones with formidable hair. The US, which is seldom ruled by the smooth of pate, swings around a different axis. It seems to crave a breather after each high-drama president. 

The reader eventually reaches 

More, perhaps, than in any Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson. Mr Biden is running some way to the left of his old boss, Mr Obama, or of Bill Clinton before him. On healthcare, but also on housing, education and climate change abatement, he is a late-life convert to expansive federal government. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, and the public debts it has incurred, he proposed to raise taxes on higher earners.

 Joe Biden is a Neo-Liberal, like Obama and Clinton, so the notion of deceptive radicalism’ is the kind of fiction published by this newspaper with regularity. The potted history of Roosevelt,Truman and Johnson is that near comic turn, almost realized.  

Franklin Roosevelt was a blue blood whose New Deal remains America’s noblest act of class-treachery. Harry Truman was a machine politician from the pragmatic Midwest. As for Johnson, progressives feared they were getting an unreconstructed vulgarian, not the Civil Rights Act and Medicare.

The notion that Joe Biden, in any way resembles Clement Attlee, is not just to misread this exhausted old pol’s non-existent ‘deceptive radicalism’, but to remind the reader of the still born comic potential of Ganesh’s opening paragraph.    

This trick is not unique to US politics. Britain’s postwar prime minister Clement Attlee was such a parody of English diffidence that, when asked if he was an agnostic, he supposedly said: “I don’t know.” After six years in office, he had nationalised healthcare and major industries. No firebrand could have done it.

The reader can, with profit, skip to the final paragraph of Ganesh’s Campaign Press Release, in the guise of a political commentary, to read this final morsel of political wisdom.

The more he is seen as a do-nothing grandpa, the more license Mr Biden has to advance ideas that would have done for another candidate. Americans, if he wins, should not count on a quiet life. 


Old Socialist 





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.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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