Joe Biden is known for his perennial gaffes and misstatements.
His critics view him as an outright liar while his fans acknowledge that Biden is prone to exaggerations that do far more harm than good.
But, there was a time when Biden was viewed as not just a “young and athletic” agent of change in the Democratic Party—but as the bright hope for the Democratic Party’s future.
First elected in 1972 to the United States Senate representing Delaware, Joe Biden was greeted with great enthusiasm by his colleagues. There were multiple calls for him to run for the presidency in 1976, when he would officially be old enough to do so. Biden resisted those calls for a decade before opting to enter an open field in 1987.
It was the end of the Reagan Administration and Democrats had taken a beating for most of the 1980s, with Reagan as their great villain. Heading into the 1990s, many Democratic Party insiders hoped that with Reagan’s second term ending, they might be able to revitalize their ailing party with new leadership.
But for Joe Biden, trouble was just around the corner.
The Hope and Tragedy of Joe Biden ‘88
Joe Biden was their great hope.
Still young, athletic, and affable, Biden was believed to have been tempered by a decade of experience in the Senate.
Since the 1988 Democratic Party Primary was an open race, many thought that he would have the best chance to breakthrough. Biden entered that race with great anticipation from Democrats who hoped that he might be another John F. Kennedy.
Within three months of announcing his bid for the presidency, though, Biden’s campaign imploded.
His reputation immediately shifted from that of a promising, young, and athletic potential Democratic Party president to an amiable—possibly even malicious—dunce whose political days were likely numbered.
The fact of the matter was that Joe Biden had lied.
What’s more, he had lied in such an obvious way that it called into question many other things that he had done and said in the preceding decade as a public official. That the lie was not over anything consequential did not help Biden’s case. As Nixon proved over a much larger scandal, it’s never the actual controversy that takes a political leader down. It’s the lie; the subsequent cover-up that usually does.
Specifically, Biden lifted several passages from a famous speech that UK Labour Party Neil Kinnock had made while he was campaigning in Britain for high office and failed to attribute them to the British politician.
Biden then subsequently lied to the press about it, prompting a deeper investigation by the media which resulted in the discovery that not only had Biden plagiarized in that instance—but that there were numerous other times throughout his career where he lied and exaggerated.
With each revelation, Biden attempted to obfuscate and ignore which only made the situation worse for the would-be presidential candidate.
Joe Biden apparently lied about a great deal. While a law student at Syracuse in 1965, he was forced to retake a class because he had plagiarized a paper and was brought up on charges of having violated the school’s academic integrity standards.
Biden retook that class which is why it did not come up during his later campaigns. It only came to light after the Neil Kinnock incident in 1988. Not long thereafter, more proof of Biden’s falsifications about his credentials to the public came about. He went around telling voters that he graduated top of his class at Syracuse, when in fact he had graduated law school in the bottom half—76th out of 85 to be precise.
When Joe Biden finally addressed the plagiarism scandal on the campaign trail in 1988, he engaged in his other routine character flaw: anger.
While today’s Biden has been derided as “sleepy” due to his age by Donald Trump and other opponents, the fact is that Biden has a temper that swings wildly.
At the press conference where he confessed to having lifted Kinnock’s words, he essentially negated the confession by insisting that the scandal wasn’t a big deal and he shouldn’t be required to attribute quotes to other people when speaking publicly multiple times a week all around the country. That was the end of his 1988 campaign.
It is an important experience in Biden’s life, though.
The 1988 campaign showed that Biden was not ready for primetime after all.
More importantly, it had reinforced the notion that his critics at the time had said of him: that Biden was essentially an empty suit.
Biden did not run an ideas campaign during a time which had been defined by the Reagan Revolution—the greatest ideological revolution in modern American politics.
The Left had nothing to counter it other than to offer up various personalities.
What Doesn’t Kill You Politically Only Makes You More Corrupt
All these negative traits in 1988, however, eventually shaped Biden’s successful (third) presidential run in 2020. At that time, the election was less about ideas and more about personalities.
As I noted previously, the American voter had grown tired of Trump’s peculiarities and explosive personality and wanted someone less threatening and more stable. Biden was portrayed as that man.
He still lied. He continued to exaggerate. Biden misspoke on a George W. Bush-like level. The aging politico, like Trump, had rage ingrained in him. That had been tampered with, though, by good press and the fact that Biden could never top Trump’s spasmodic nature in public.
More importantly, Biden’s history of duplicity extends beyond fabricating his resume and life experience. His viciousness and dissimulation may include outright corruption. After all, Biden’s son, Hunter, stands accused of being one of the most prolific illicit influence peddlers in the world. Hunter Biden is believed to have spent years serving as his father’s bagman to multiple world and major corporate leaders, trading access to Joe Biden’s office in exchange for vast sums of money.
According to a former business associate of Hunter Biden’s (whose credibility remains in question by most mainstream sources), Tony Bobulinski, every transaction Hunter Biden conducted had a “cut” taken out for “the big guy” (Joe Biden).
If true, then, the lying has taken on all new meaning.
The Biden Family would have been involved in a decades-long criminal conspiracy to sell access to Joe Biden’s various political offices to some of the worst people in the world.
And Joe Biden lied about it.
Joe Biden’s Bad Habits Became His Weak Character
He manipulated his family and friends into going along with the crime. It is completely believable in the context of Joe Biden because of just how smarmy he has behaved over his career—from lying about his law school graduation ranking to shamelessly ripping off a fellow politician from England (and then becoming incredulous when he was made to apologize for it).
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once admonished his pupils to, “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” In thought, words, deed, and ultimately character, Joe Biden has a history that leaves much to be desired.
If Biden’s character is as bad as many fear it is, then his destiny is bleak indeed—and so is America’s if follows him too closely down whatever moral rabbit hole Biden is going down.
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Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who recently became a writer for 19FortyFive.com. Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower(Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.