by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
At the Atlantic, Tom Nichols criticizes the “unforced error” that Biden made during his speech in Poland yesterday, but praises the habit that led to it:
“What Biden was doing, of course, was being Joe Biden. He was speaking for all of us, from the heart. One of the more endearing things about the president—at least for those of us who admire him—is that he has almost no inner monologue and regularly engages in the kind of gaffe where a politician says something that is impolitic but true.”
This will not do. This paragraph could easily have been written about Donald Trump by one of Donald Trump’s fans, and, had it been, the correct response to it would have been that a president who behaves like this as a matter of routine is a president who will end up behaving like this when it really matters. As we learned while Trump was in the White House, having “almost no inner monologue” is not a trait that one can switch on or off at will. If one is liable to do it at a political rally or party confab or press conference, one is liable to do it during a crisis, too. That the United States has its second president in a row who is unable to avoid saying whatever comes into his head should not be celebrated or indulged. It is embarrassing, and it should be regarded as such.
I do not doubt that Tom Nichols finds Joe Biden’s “from the heart” and “impolitic but true” behavior as “endearing” as he found Donald Trump’s “from the heart” and “impolitic but true” behavior repellant. But this should not blind us to the fact that Joe Biden’s candidacy was cast as an end to such antics, not as a mere redirection of them.