US President Joe Biden delivers a speech to mark the third anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania on January 5, 2024 [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]
Joe Biden is a lie and a liar.
That opening sentence is meant to sting. More importantly, it is meant to shatter the happy caricature that the sitting US president is an antidote – in character, nature and temperament – to his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Biden tried to promote the big lie that he is the antithesis of Trump late last week in a speech that was billed as the opening salvo of his, until now, somnolent re-election campaign.
A cliché-ridden appraisal in The Guardian of Biden’s practised performance praised him for “taking the gloves off” in a “fired-up” evisceration of the likely Republican nominee for president come November.
“Biden tore into his predecessor Donald Trump as never before. He brimmed with anger, disdain and contempt,” a Guardian correspondent wrote approvingly. “If Biden was seeking to jolt his half-conscious 2024 re-election campaign into life, this may have done the trick.”
Rather than a “jolt” of urgency and authenticity, Biden’s halting, 33-minute soliloquy reflected his fraudulent core and mendacity and the blatant double standards that govern the establishment media’s coverage of two supposedly disparate candidates who, truth be told, are more alike than unlike.
When Trump “tears” into opponents with “anger, disdain, contempt” and signature vulgarity, he is routinely cast as the authoritarian villain, incoherent with animus and rage, who is motivated by one impulse above all: vengeance.
When Biden does the same – minus the profanity – he is applauded for dispensing with the obsolete straitjacket of decorum in a necessary burst of genuineness that “plenty” of fretting Democrats will welcome as an agreeable departure from the “grandfatherly figure predisposed to give people the benefit of the doubt”.
So, just like all those rabid, “deplorable” Republicans, most Democrats apparently prefer and are aching to see more of Mr Hyde than Dr Jekyll in their man, as well.
Still, it was Biden’s construct that America confronted an existential choice between democracy and dictatorship that reeked of his doddering Trump-like hypocrisy and deceit.
“Today, we are here to answer the most important of questions: Is democracy still America’s sacred cause?” Biden asked. “I mean it. This is not rhetorical, academic or hypothetical.”
If Biden’s injunction was even remotely sincere, then he or his surrogates ought to answer the following questions that are – to borrow a phrase – not rhetorical, academic or hypothetical. Oh, and I mean it.
What kind of “democracy” encourages, enables and endorses another so-called “democracy” to commit genocide – yes, genocide – against an imprisoned people with no means of escape or refuge from the “killing rage”?
What kind of “democracy” protects and defends another so-called “democracy” when it enforces a siege depriving millions of Palestinian civilians of food, water, medicine and fuel – triggering rampant starvation and disease?
What kind of “democracy” supplies another so-called “democracy” with the spigot of weapons and ammunition to turn the bulk of a densely populated strip into Mars – barren and uninhabitable?
What kind of “democracy” dismisses the will of a clear majority of its citizens who demand that their president work to end the “killing rage” by negotiating an immediate and lasting ceasefire?
The answers confirm that America’s phantom “democracy” is not a “sacred cause” but a jejune myth – disfigured and corrupted beyond repair long ago.
The nadir of Biden’s pious posturing was his anguished, hyperbolic indictment that Trump did “nothing” to prevent an insurrectionist mob from storming the Capitol despite having been urged to “act” and “stop” the madness.
“The entire nation watched in horror. The whole world watched in disbelief and Trump did nothing,” Biden said. “It was among the worst derelictions of duty by a president in American history.”
Well, Mr President, millions of enlightened Americans and much of the planet have “watched in horror” and “disbelief” as you and your craven administration rejected – again and again – calls to act and end the murderous madness engulfing the Middle East.
Instead, you have fuelled the horrors and made sure that they go on and on until the “killing rage” is spent – no matter the thousands of children who have been killed, maimed, orphaned, traumatised or remain entombed beneath the mountain-range-like rubble.
That, sir, is not just a “dereliction of duty”. It is an affront to decency that shocks the conscience and renders Trump’s litany of crimes misdemeanours by comparison.
Biden’s address mirrored language he used once before when he excoriated Trump for having “created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle.”
But Biden has weaved his own “web of lies” because he also “values power over principle”.
Biden’s lies are more lethal and pernicious.
He has feigned “concern” about the human toll of Israel’s “indiscriminate” bombing. In what amounts to a “concern” comedy, Biden and complicit company have “urged” Israel to show “restraint”.
“Far too many Palestinians have been killed. Far too many have suffered these past weeks. And we want to do everything possible to prevent harm to them,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters way back in early November.
So much for that bit of performative nonsense, Mr Secretary.
America’s proxy is either not heeding Biden’s carefully calibrated qualms or knows they are designed to give the public impression that he is “concerned” when the self-proclaimed “Zionist” US president doesn’t give a hoot privately that the number of killed and maimed Palestinians surges every hellish day.
Biden’s duplicitous diplomatic tango includes trafficking in the familiar fib that he really, really wants Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and complicit company to stop all that ugly, war-crime talk about cleansing Gaza of Palestinians so fanatical Israeli settlers can steal more homes and land to “make the desert bloom”.
Heavens, no. Biden is “committed” to a “two-state” solution. Meanwhile, Netanyahu is busy ensuring there will never be a “two-state solution” by erasing one of the proposed “states” from the map – literally.
There is no “daylight” between Joe Biden and Donald Trump when Israel invokes its “right to defend itself” however it wants to, wherever it wants to, for as long as it wants to.
Any liberal or progressive in any quarter who claims otherwise is a liar, too.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.