Over the years, I have written many Langstaff Letters regarding Donald Trump, so I realized I should write something about Joe Biden. Here it is.
Joe Biden was born and raised as a Catholic in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Delaware in 1953 when he was ten years old. He studied at the University of Delaware and then studied for a law degree at Syracuse University. In 1972 he became the sixth youngest senator in U.S. history, and he retained that position until 2009.
He was particularly involved in foreign relations and was influential in foreign affairs during the Obama presidency when he was vice president. He also led the judiciary committee from 1987 to 1995 that dealt with drug policy, crime prevention, and civil liberty issues. He oversaw the contentious hearings for Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1988 and 2008, he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination and was unsuccessful both times. However, in 2008 he became Obama’s vice president.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
Biden married Neilia Hunter in 1966. They had three children Joseph R. “Beau,” Robert Hunter, and Naomi Christina “Amy.” In December 1972, Biden’s wife Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed in an automobile accident while Christmas shopping. The accident filled him with anger and religious doubt. He wrote, “That he felt God had played a trick on him, and he had trouble focusing on work.” Beau Biden, his oldest son, died of brain cancer in 2015.
Biden credits his second wife, teacher Jill Jacobs with the renewal of his interest in politics and life. They met on a blind date in 1975 and were married at the United Nations Chapel in New York in 1977. To see his family, Biden traveled between his Delaware home and Washington DC by train (74 minutes each way) and maintained this habit throughout his 36 years in the Senate.
In his early years in the Senate, Biden considered himself a liberal on civil rights and liberties, senior citizen concerns, and healthcare but a conservative on other issues, including abortion.
In 1994, he helped pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, also known as Biden’s Crime Law. Later, he called his role in passing the bill a “big mistake.”
In 1993, he voted for a provision that deemed homosexualization incompatible with military life. In 1996, he voted for the Defence of Marriage Act which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. In the 1970s, Biden was one of the Senate’s strongest opponents of race integration busing, and his Delaware constituent strongly opposed it.
1988 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
In 1988 Biden sought the Democratic nomination for president. He was a strong candidate, but he was accused of plagiarizing a speech by a British labor leader. Biden also made several false or exaggerated claims about his early life, including his college studies. Biden withdrew his candidacy, saying he had been overshadowed by “the exaggerated shadow” of his past mistakes.
WAR IN AFGHANISTAN & IRAQ
Biden was a strong supporter of the war in Afghanistan, and in 2002, he declared that Saddam Hussin was a threat to national security. He voted in favor of using military force against Iraq. Later, his positions changed.
2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
In 2008, Biden again ran for the Democratic nomination for president but had difficulty raising funds and failed to gain traction against the highly preferred candidates, Obama and Hillary Clinton. Consequently, he withdrew from the presidential race. In turn, he was invited by Obama to be his vice president, a position he would hold for eight years.
2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
Biden seriously considered entering the presidential race for the 2016 elections, but he felt his son’s recent death had largely drained his energy. He said, “Nobody has the right to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110% of who they are.” So, he withdrew from the race, and Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee.
2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
Biden entered the 2020 presidential race, saying he was prompted to run, among other reasons, by his “sense of duty.” In turn, he won the Democratic nomination and eventually defeated President Trump in a much-disputed election. On January 20th, 2021, he was inaugurated President of the United States of America, the oldest person ever to take office.
CHARACTERISTICS AND REPUTATION
Politician – Biden has been considered a moderate Democrat, a centrist, a lifetime liberal, but he is recently seen as shifting towards the far left.
Family – Family seems to be an important part of his life, and he has a strong marriage with his second wife, Jill. There is much conjecture about his son Hunter Biden, but that is another story.
Religion – He is a devoted Catholic who regularly attends mass and seems to emphasize the eucharist. All of this, despite his promoting positions that are in direct opposition to Catholic ones, such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
Suffering – Biden has suffered severe tragedies in his life. Firstly, when his first wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident and then when his son, Beau, died of brain cancer.
Finances – Biden has consistently been ranked as one of the least wealthy members of the Senate. More recently, this has changed primarily due to the sale of Biden books and speaking fees.
Obama – Leon Panetta, Obama’s secretary of defense, told Politico, “he [Joe Biden] was loyal. I think, to Obama, in every way, in defending and standing by him even probably when he disagreed with what Obama was doing.” Although Obama spoke well of Biden at the time, according to Politico, he responded, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up.” This was at a time when Obama had alleged doubts about Biden becoming president.
Biden comes from a long line of working-class people in Scranton and tends to relate to real people, especially after the death of his eldest son.
Biden has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth. The New York Times wrote that “Biden’s weak filters make him capable of blurting out pretty much anything.” Biden called himself a “gaffe machine.” Others would point to his exaggeration and even lies about his life.
There is much more than has been written about Joe Biden, but this gives somewhat of an overview.
BIDEN’S PRESENT ISSUES
Biden has had a series of issues in his first year in office that have caused him to become very unpopular. There are many, including:
- His handling of COVID-19 – More people died in 2021 than the previous year Trump was President.
- Afghanistan – An absolute catastrophe that he won’t recognize as such.
- Inflation, which hits everybody’s pocketbook.
- Open borders – No real plan to give us safe borders.
- Foreign Policy – His handling of international issues including China, Russia, Ukraine, Iran, etc.
- Crime and the lack of safety in American cities.
- Issues related to filibusters and the supreme court.
- His choice for vice president, Kamala Harris, and her low approval ratings.
- His apparent move to the left and progressives.
- Rejection of his own church’s position on abortion and the question of religious liberty.
- His failure to keep campaign promises to be a moderate and unifier.
These have all contributed to his low ratings, but how did it all change?
CHANGES WITH BIDEN
As early as April 2021, The New York Times began to realize that Biden had changed. One article examined how Joe Biden became more radical.
David Brooks interviewed Biden, asking, “What happened to Joe Biden?”Many thought he was a moderate incrementalist, but now he is promoting whopping big legislative packages that make more of the progressing left happy. David Brooks ends his article by saying, “Biden hasn’t really changed. He is just doing everything bigger”(nytimes.com).
But was he just doing everything bigger? Again, what has changed Joe Biden?
WHAT HAS CHANGED JOE BIDEN?
Joe Biden received the most votes any president has ever received but now is an unpopular president. The question is why. What happened?
Let me give my take on what happened. When Biden was running as a candidate, he presented himself as a moderate, particularly a unifier. However, between the election in November 2020 and the inauguration, something significant happened. What was it? It was the election of two senators from the state of Georgia. At that time, the Republicans held a two-seat majority. If they had won one of those seats, they would have held on to a 51/49 advantage over the Democrats, and Biden would have had to work with them to get anything done. Instead, the Democrats won both of the seats. The Senate was now a 50/50 split, and the vice president would cast the tying vote. Hence, the Democrats gained control of the Senate.
Now, I believe what happened is that Biden changed from being a unifier to a transformational leader. He no longer had to work with the Republicans; instead, he could work with the Democrats who had control of the House and the Senate.
It would seem that he set about to transform America. To change things more than any recent Democratic President including Obama and Clinton and perhaps even more than what Franklin D. Rosevelt did in the 1930s, hence, the plan “Build Back Better,” which envisaged spending, not billions but trillions of dollars to make it happen.
It might have happened except for two courageous Democrats in the Senate. Joe Machin from West Virginia and Krysten Sinema from Arizona. Consequently, it did not come to pass.
What happened to Biden? He changed from a unifier to a transformational leader, who perhaps was seeking to leave a historic legacy from his presidency. But, in the course of which, he would push America more and more towards a socialist society.
Well, that is my answer to the question, “What happened to Joe Biden?” He moved from being a unifier to a transformational leader, and if he had succeeded, America would have been changed forever.
If the Republicans win either or both the Senate or the House, President Biden will have to revert to being a unifier, seeking again to work with the Republicans. If this happens, then 2023 and 2024, which will also involve a presidential election, could well be a tumultuous time here in America.
The Bible calls us to pray for our leaders, including our president (1 Timothy 2:1-3). So let us do that. Let’s pray for our leaders and for America.
Comments and responses are welcome.