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Everyone f***s with old Joe

I hadn’t planned on writing about a topic related to Israel, but Wednesday afternoon, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. was withholding a pending shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs to Israel, and that he was preparing to withhold additional shipments of artillery shells. This is in addition to Biden’s earlier decision to delay selling Israel 6,500 Joint Direct Attack Munitions — kits that enable unguided bombs to be steered to a target.

Biden is attempting to strong-arm Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government into ceasing their operations against Hamas in Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

“If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities,” Biden told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “I’ve made it clear to Bibi and the war cabinet, they’re not going to get our support, if in fact they go on these population centers,”

Biden insisted, “We’re not walking away from Israel’s security; we’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas,” blithely ignoring the fact that the Israeli war cabinet unanimously agreed that waging war in Rafah is essential to Israel’s security. Biden is once again insisting to people in the crosshairs of Hamas that he knows how to fight Hamas better than they do.

Saying that absolutely no civilians can be put at any sort of heightened risk during an urban warfare campaign against an enemy that hides behind civilians as part of its war strategy is effectively the same thing as saying that Israel cannot be allowed to fight Hamas. What this means is that, in effect, it is now the policy of the Biden administration to leave Hamas in power.

Biden is the president who warned, “When terrorists don’t pay a price for their terror, when dictators don’t pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction,” and who promised, “Make no mistake: The United States will make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself.”

And now Biden is loudly and proudly cutting off certain forms of military aid to Israel.

Biden is also the president who pledged he would stand with Ukraine as long as it takes:

We support Ukraine fully in this moment, and we have — we have since the start of this conflict. And we’re going to continue to do whatever it takes to give them the capacity to defend themselves. . . . The United States is committed to ensuring that the brave Ukrainian people can continue—continue to defend their country against Russian aggression as long as it takes.

And then Biden slow-walked much of the military aid, and is now insisting that Ukraine not attack Russian oil refineries because that might increase oil prices, just in time for the summer driving season. “Whatever it takes, as long as it takes,” but only if it doesn’t harm Biden’s chances at reelection.

These strikes have already created a fuel shortage in Russia, forced Russia to drastically reduce its oil exports, and led to speculation that Russia may soon need to import refined fuel from places such as Belarus. You can make the argument that the Ukrainian strikes on Russian oil refineries are having a quicker, more pervasive, and more deleterious effect on the Russian economy and war effort than the Western sanctions have over the past two years.

And Biden’s message to Ukraine is, “Stop doing that!”

Biden is also the president who pledged he would make Saudi Arabia a pariah, then turned around and fist-bumped Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and who is now offering the Saudi kingdom security guarantees in exchange for playing ball with the Israelis. We’ve also built a new joint missile-defense testing center in the Saudi Kingdom. Biden has turned into one of the best American presidents Saudi Arabia has ever had.

Biden assured America that al-Qaeda was “gone” from Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda is in fact “back and thriving” in Afghanistan, profiting from its deals with the ruling Taliban.

It’s not just on foreign affairs. At home, Biden is the self-professed devout Catholic who’s pushing for taxpayer funding for abortion at any point in pregnancy.

After years of insisting that Obamacare would not pay for the health care of illegal immigrants, Joe Biden announced earlier this year that the Affordable Care Act was being unilaterally expanded to cover the health care of children who entered the country illegally.

In 2022, Vice President Kamala Harris declared on Meet the Press, “The border is secure.” Apparently, Biden didn’t agree but held his tongue; when asked in January if the border was secure, the president replied, “No, it’s not. I haven’t believed that for the last ten years. And I’ve said it for the last ten years.” (Biden had not, in fact, spent the past ten years saying that the border is not secure, and until January, he never contradicted his own cabinet officials and vice president who insisted that it was.)

Biden is the president who pledged that his big-spending infrastructure bills would “turn ‘shovel worthy’ ideas into ‘shovel ready’ projects.” And then by the end of last year, Biden was complaining to his staff that “as he travels the country to tout historic pieces of legislation like the bipartisan infrastructure law, it could be years before the residents of some of the communities receiving federal funds see construction begin.” Politico recently determined that of the $1.1 trillion in new spending on infrastructure passed by the then-Democrat-controlled Congress in 2021 and 2022, just $125 billion — 11.3 percent — has been spent.

As a candidate on the trail in 2020, Biden pledged, “No more drilling on federal lands. Period. Period, period, period.” Then he approved ConocoPhillips’s plan to pump about 576 million barrels of oil from a federally managed reserve on Alaska’s North Slope.

The president likes to boast that “nobody f***s with a Biden,” but everyone messes with him. Everyone knows he folds under pressure. Everyone knows he’s afraid of political blowback and he’s always overpromising and under-delivering. Joe Biden may not be a man of the progressive left, but he doesn’t believe he was put here on earth to fight the progressive left. He wants every Democrat to be happy, or at least satisfied.

There’s a recurring pattern of desperation to this presidency. Biden is constantly publicly underestimating problems — a surge of illegal immigration is just a seasonal pattern, “There’s nobody suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way,” “I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and more re- — more competent in terms of conducting war.” And then when things go wrong, like a national shortage of baby formula, Biden snaps that people expect he and his team to be mind-readers. He’s an insecure, irritable, insufferably boastful, loose-tongued lightweight who is in over his head and way too old for the job, and the American people can tell.

Back in the summer of 2008, Barack Obama and his top campaign staff had narrowed their options for Obama’s running mate down to two men: Biden and former Indiana governor and senator Evan Bayh. Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe quoted Obama as calling it a “coin toss” between the two men.

Every now and then I think about how differently recent U.S. political history would have unfolded had Obama selected Bayh instead of Biden.

You figure this alternate history would have continued about the same as our reality until 2015 or so. A Vice President Evan Bayh, then age 61, would be likely to run for the presidency in 2016, and have a decent shot of knocking off then-69-year-old Hillary Clinton in the primary fight — an even-keeled moderate and reassuring Midwesterner riding Obama’s coattails, against all the Clinton baggage. It’s fair to wonder if Bernie Sanders becomes the phenomenon that he did in 2016 in this scenario.

It’s tough for one party to control the presidency for three consecutive terms, so perhaps the Republican nominee — maybe Donald Trump, maybe someone else — would have won the 2016 presidency. Wasn’t Republican fear of a Hillary Clinton presidency a major factor in the rise of Trump in the 2016 primaries? Without Obama picking Biden, we probably don’t get Hillary, and without Hillary, we might not have gotten Trump.

(We can probably assume that throughout the multiverse, there is no world in which Hillary Clinton won the presidency, at least not by running the way she did in our world in 2016. You can’t just refuse to visit Wisconsin for the final few months of a presidential campaign!)

Assuming Bayh hadn’t won the presidency in 2016, this means that in 2020, he would be in the top tier of candidates in that crowded Democratic field, although it’s possible Democrats would have dismissed him as the guy who lost to the GOP incumbent. But in this scenario, Joe Biden probably retires from the Senate in 2014 or so. (Remember, Biden won his Senate reelection bid in 2008, while he was winning the vice presidency.) And no one would have been clamoring for a then-79-year-old retired senator to run for president in 2019. If Obama had picked Bayh, Biden would probably have been an irrelevant afterthought on the political scene for the past decade, instead of the 46th president of the United States.

What’s more, without nominee Biden pledging to pick a woman as his running mate, we probably wouldn’t have ended up with Vice President Kamala Harris.

With different presidents in office since January 20, 2017, does the Covid pandemic turn out differently? Does the investigation into the origin get as forgotten as it has in our world? Does Afghanistan turn out differently? Without the Afghanistan withdrawal proceeding as disastrously as it did . . . does Russia invade Ukraine in February 2022? Does Hamas attack Israel the same way on October 7, 2023? Does inflation take off like a rocket starting in 2021? Do we see the same waves of migrants at the U.S. southern border?

The alternative is probably not utopia, just different problems . . . but it would be edifying to see if different choices in leadership would have resulted in better outcomes for the country and the world.
As we used to say, “Thanks, Obama.”

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