The Eternal Spite of the Spotless Mind

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives for a campaign event, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Former vice president and (fading?) Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden unleashed his nasty side, again, this time on Today Show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie. Here’s a video of the exchange, which took place on the campaign trail in Iowa.

My quickie transcript of the vital bits concerning Hunter Biden and Burisma:

Guthrie: Do you think it was wrong for him to take that position…

Biden: [Interrupting] No.

Guthrie: …knowing that it was because that company wanted access to you?

Biden: Well, that’s not true. You’re saying things you do not know what you’re talking about! No one said that! Who said that?

Guthrie: Don’t you think that it’s just one of those things where people think, “Well, that seems kind of sleazy. Why would he have that job if not for who his father was?”

Biden: ‘Cause he’s a very bright guy.

Sure Hunter is “very bright.” Maybe not bright enough to put the cocaine habit on hold long enough to avoid a dishonorable discharge from the Navy Reserves, or to put on a condom before nailing a stripper. But very, very bright nonetheless, you can be sure. What kind of curve are we grading on here, Joe?

If you just read my transcript instead of watching the clip, you’re missing some important context. You can skip ahead to the 0:49 mark, but do watch and listen to Biden as he delivers that “‘Cause he’s a very bright guy” line. He really laid on the Biden charm there, all thick and syrupy, which was quite a change from the moment prior when he was snapping at Guthrie. It was almost as though he realized he’d gone too far, and then course-corrected too far in the other direction.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never warmed to Biden’s supposed charm. He always comes across as patronizing and unctuous, especially when he’s just stepped in it, which is often. His charm appears to me to be his shield, his way of implicitly daring someone to call him on his own BS. But that’s only when he remembers to use it, which is becoming less often.

Here’s a clip from last week, where you can see what happens when Biden is confronted by someone who, unlike Guthrie, doesn’t have an entire news division backing them up:

Quick & Dirty Transcript:

Iowa Dem: I’m gonna support you if you win the nomination because we gotta get rid of Trump, but what are we gonna do about climate change? Now, you say you’re against pipelines, but then you want to replace these gas lines, that’s not gonna work.

Biden: No, no, no.

Iowa Dem: We gotta stop building and replacing pipelines.

Biden: [Touching the guy] Go vote for someone else.

The Iowa man was clearly “telling him a question,” and I understand how annoying that can be. But watch Biden’s body language after telling the guy to vote for someone else. Biden maneuvered himself in between the voter and the video camera, which has a threatening vibe to it, and even grabbed his jacket while lecturing him. That’s no way for a presidential candidate, a former senator, or a former veep with his own Secret Service detail to treat an American voter of any party.

Not the first time something like that has happened, either. In Greenwood, South Carolina, last November, Biden gave a similar treatment to another Democratic voter.

Watch just the first 13 seconds of this clip:

Same setup as before. A Democratic voter with a pet cause challenges Biden politely, and Biden’s first instinct is to tell them to go vote for someone else — even Trump.

Last December, you might recall, Biden called another Iowa voter a “damn liar,” “fat” and “too old to vote for me,” after being confronted. Biden went on, saying, “You want to check my shape on, let’s do push ups together, let’s run, let’s do whatever you want to do, let’s take an IQ test.”

As Stacy McCain likes to say, “You don’t build a winning coalition by a process of subtraction.” But Slow Joe seems to think he can win by telling fellow Democrats to vote for Trump.

There might be an argument to be made that Biden is just following President Trump’s lead, being all bossy and pushy, trying to bully his way into the White House — but I’m not buying it.

Trump is a scrappy fighter, some even say a bully. We did see him barrel his way through 16 other Republican candidates in 2015-16 during debate after debate. They had no clue how to respond to Trump’s on-stage antics, and on the rare occasion when someone like Marco Rubio tried to duplicate Trump’s style, it was just cringeworthy:

Trump took the same approach with Hillary Clinton during the general election, going so far as to call her “a nasty woman” right to her face during their final debate. Trump also roughs up his opponents with cruel nicknames, which just like that “nasty woman” remark, are crueler still for how spot-on accurate they are. And don’t even get me started on how Trump actually enjoys going toe-to-toe with the fake news peddlers of the MSN-DNC, or we’re going to be here all day.

But there’s a big difference between Trump’s pugnacity and Biden’s: Trump doesn’t punch down.

Trump can’t punch up anymore — he’s president of the United States, and there’s no higher to punch here on this mortal plane. But presidential rivals, millionaire reporters and news anchors, terrorist bully boys — they’re all expected to be able to take a few slings and arrows. I can’t however recall Trump ever using insulting language or threatening body language with an actual voter whose support he needed. Mark Hemingway noted late last year that “Trump insults a lot of people, and D.C. elites are horrified.” Maybe they should be, because Trump’s favorite targets are the D.C. elites, and he often hits the center ring.

But Biden punches down, and he punches hard. He’ll snap at someone like Savannah Guthrie, sure, but then he falls right back on his snaky charm. But if you’re a nobody, if you’re just some ordinary voter with your own concerns and priorities — then look out. Biden will berate you, lecture you, and put his hands on you.

Trump’s a fighter unfairly called a bully. Biden’s a bully unjustly called a fighter.

Imagine what Biden would do with all the powers of the Oval Office at his back. Or better yet, just take Biden’s advice and vote for Trump.