Why Democrats Shouldn't Fear A Comparison Of Biden And Trump

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden
Photo by Gage Skidmore/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Plainly visible behind the melodramatic release of a special counsel report on President Joe Biden's retention of classified documents — and its unprofessional partisan personal attack on him — are several basic facts that ought to be understood by every American.

First is the character of Robert Hur, the special counsel, a Trump Republican who abused Attorney General Merrick Garland's good-faith appointment of him. Hur larded his report exonerating the president with irrelevant remarks that were obviously designed to inflict political damage. By doing so, Hur clearly violated Justice Department protocols and has earned investigations of his own misconduct by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility and inspector general.

It is worth noting that Hur's ridiculously verbose, overwrought document is marred by its slovenly composition. To cite one glaring instance among many, he claims to have found "evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified documents," and then admits more than 200 pages later that "there is in fact a shortage of evidence on these points." (Did the special counsel, only 51 years old, suffer his own embarrassing memory lapse?)

Second is the failure of mainstream media to duly emphasize the memory blips and routinely incoherent blabber of Biden's principal opponent Donald Trump. When the former president wrongly identified Hungarian President Viktor Orban in a recent speech as the president of Turkey, his error received only brief mention on the major cable networks. His repeated mistaking of his primary opponent Nikki Haley for Nancy Pelosi in another speech got more coverage, but only because Haley kept mentioning it to mock Trump.

Not so long ago, in the trial that found Trump guilty of sexual assault, he gazed at a photograph of plaintiff E. Jean Carroll and told the court that it was a picture of Marla Maples, one of his former wives. Anyone who has looked at Trump's testimony in any number of cases, notably the lawsuits over his phony Trump University, will find dozens of instances when he claimed, under oath, not to remember events, documents and people he knew.

Third and most important is that any comparison of the performance of Biden versus Trump reflects very poorly on the latter — and quite positively on the current president. From a prolonged economic slump that was largely owed to Trump's mismanagement of the COVID pandemic, Biden has restored the U.S. economy. Although the country has suffered a spike of inflation that is now abating, it was far lower than in other developed nations and emanated from global supply problems, not his policies.

Economic growth and full employment have persisted strongly, crushing the dire and almost universal predictions of recession — and the financial markets, which Trump predicted would crash, instead have reached record levels. (Now the Republican politicians, who usually measure their life achievement by stock prices, tell us that doesn't matter.) Across the country, Biden's achievements in office are improving American lives and communities, with higher wages, lower drug costs, and the enormous infrastructure program that Trump promised and failed to deliver.

Biden's extensive record looks even better when contrasted with the latest embarrassing antics of Trump and his congressional Republican lackeys. Anyone worried by the arrival of thousands of undocumented immigrants ought to have welcomed the tough — indeed draconian — border control legislation agreed by Senate Republicans and Democrats in a deal that would have included defense funding for Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel, and humanitarian relief for Palestinian civilians in Gaza. That bill, fashioned at the insistence of Republicans, required four months of negotiation, overseen by one of the Senate's most conservative members, James Lankford of Oklahoma.

At a time when Republicans constantly bemoan the threat supposedly embodied by an influx of migrants, Trump suddenly ordered them all to abandon that legislative effort — and vote down the same powers to close the border and mobilize more resources that he had demanded as president. It was an astonishingly irresponsible act that humiliated every Republican on Capitol Hill, from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Mike Johnson down to the most obscure backbencher. Thanks to Trump, all of them, except the indignant Lankford, look like craven underlings who put politics above their own definition of national security.

Of course that is how Trump behaves in every circumstance. Constantly shouting and posting incomprehensible, loony outbursts makes him appear insane. And whatever "gaffes" Joe Biden may utter, whatever names he may forget, he still knows far more than Trump ever will — and he remains steady, reliable and devoted to the national interest.

Joe Conason is founder and editor-in-chief of The National Memo. He is also editor-at-large of Type Investigations, a nonprofit investigative reporting organization formerly known as The Investigative Fund, and the author of several books, including two New York Times bestsellers. His forthcoming book isThe Longest Con: How Grifters, Swindlers, and Frauds Hijacked American Conservatism.

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