I often joke about the Democratic Party propping up Joe Biden, like something out of Weekend at Bernie’s, and using the sitting president as a political puppet. I am kidding. I only mean that Biden is too old to run again as president and that the Democratic Party is insisting he run and boxing out alternatives out of the perception that Biden is the only one who can beat Trump.
I don’t really think that anyone is pulling Biden’s strings.
Trump, however, has been suggesting that someone is pulling Biden’s strings, controlling the presidency from above. Whether Trump meant what he said, or was just hitting on a political message, is unclear. But last weekend in New Hampshire, Trump was explicit.
“It’s never been worse than it is now under crooked Joe Biden and, frankly, his boss, Barack Hussein Obama,” Trump said. “I think it’s his boss.”
Trump is hitting on a perception that is well-established.
“It’s not a new conspiracy theory,” NBC reported, “A 2020 video of Obama on late-night television circulated in conservative corners of the internet this fall, showing him deadpanning to late-night TV host Stephen Colbert that in an ideal world, he would have a stand-in with an earpiece so he could deliver lines and stay out of the spotlight.”
The idea is silly. Biden has been in Washington since the early 1970s, when Obama was still a young boy. Biden began campaigning for the presidency in the 1980s, and likely resented the idea of serving as Obama’s underling in 2008. That Biden would still somehow be subservient to Obama is untenable in practical terms, and also in social-personal terms. Biden just wouldn’t let that happen – which doesn’t really deserve an expanded explanation, but there you go.
“There has never been any evidence to suggest Obama has more influence over the current White House beyond providing suggestions or offering help at an occasional meeting with Biden,” NBC reported. “And reporting since the Obama presidency has painted a more complicated and cooler picture of the Obama-Biden relationship than the “bromance” lauded during their days as ticket-mates.”
Still, Trump has hit on the idea that someone else is pulling Biden’s strings.
“I don’t believe he’s smart enough to be doing this stuff,” Trump said about Biden. “I believe it’s the people that are surrounding him,”
Trump continued, in reference to Biden. “I don’t ever think he knows what’s going on…I think this is the president’s, whoever the president is, it’s not yours.”
Trump is not the only one suggesting that Biden is not calling the shots. Common citizens feel similarly.
“Somebody’s got to be behind the scenes doing it,” said Craig Gingrich of Cedar Falls, Iowa. “Obama is probably running the show.
Kenny Mracek of Lawler, Iowa felt similarly. “Barack Obama made a statement before he finished his second term that it’d be nice if he could stay in office the rest of his life and be a dictator like some of the other smaller countries.”
I’m not entirely sure what statement Mr. Mracek is referring to. And I’m not entirely sure how or why Obama would be calling the shots within the Biden administration. Trump is misguided for suggesting as much – because it’s a baseless conspiracy theory, yes.
But also because Trump should be making the case that the historically unpopular Biden needs to be removed from office, rather than making the case that Biden isn’t really in office, but is just a placeholder for the significantly more popular and charismatic Barack Obama.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.