I Was Wrong

During the Democratic primary–as regular readers of this blog will remember–I was pretty adamant about America’s need for generational change. I was convinced that both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were simply too old to tackle the monumental task of rescuing the nation (or what is left of it in the wake of the train wreck that is the Trump administration). I thought that a restoration of hope, of possibility, required a younger, more energetic, more “woke” set of actors.

What I failed to take into account was the immense importance of competence borne of experience, especially at a juncture as perilous as the one we approach.You would think that–as an old woman myself–I would have recognized the value of lessons learned over a lifetime, many of them the hard way.

The Democrats have a truly impressive “bench” of very smart, very idealistic young people: Mayor Pete, AOC, a number of others. But they will still be smart (and hopefully, still idealistic) 4 or 8 or 12 years from now, and the experience they will have gained in those years will deepen their understanding of the political process and sharpen the skills it takes to negotiate the convoluted structures of governance.

The (virtual) Democratic Convention reminded me that Joe Biden–who was also a smart and idealistic youngster “back in the day”– offers America fifty years of successful public sector experience. Unlike the reality-show buffoon who currently occupies the Oval Office, he knows what it like to do the hard, grunt work of governing. He knows what it is like to encounter new facts and perspectives that make you recognize and admit that you’ve been on the wrong side of  a policy issue. His deep experience with foreign leaders has allowed him to forge relationships that will be critical to re-establishing America’s reputation abroad (younger people simply haven’t had the time to establish those relationships, and President Obama drew heavily on them during his first term in office.)

His relationships with others in government, on both sides of the political aisle, have established his reputation as a person who can be trusted to keep his word, honor a commitment, and “tell it like it is.” That reputation simply cannot be established overnight; it requires time.

There’s another relationship that has been established over the years–Biden’s relationship with the American public. He’s a known quantity, which is why the efforts of the Crazy Guy In Chief to define him have fallen flat. GOP spin doctors may be able to paint AOC as some sort of communist (after all, she wants rich people to pay taxes! and she wants to save the environment!), but Joe Biden has already defined himself in the years that he has been a public figure.

These are assets that only come with experience.And time.

I still favor a generational shift, probably sooner than later, but I failed to appreciate the value and importance of Biden’s self-described status as a “transitional figure.” Assuming (as sane people must) a Democratic victory in November and a successful (probably ugly) transition of power, Joe Biden will bring extensive knowledge of government and how it does– and doesn’t– work to the monumental effort of repairing the damage.

If we are very lucky, if we give him the tools to work with by electing a sufficient number of thoughtful, non-lunatic people to the House and Senate, the government he hands over to a younger generation will be recognizably American again.

So,  mea culpa. And think about Joe Biden, a competent and empathetic adult, as you watch the GOP convention nominate– and genuflect to– the child-sociopath who currently occupies the Oval Office.


  1. Today’s essay capture more than just realizing what experience in governing means. It juxtaposes the sea of lies, distortions and idiocy of the cult of Trump. Since Republicans of virtually every stripe now in office have NO intention of governing anything except their accounts with their donors, it’s an easy call.

    There’s a reason the GOP declined to present a platform this time. They have none. What’s running the GOP, and the RNC convention, is the corrupt, stupid and evil family business, aka the Trump administration. They exist only to enrich themselves. Governing is an inconvenience that is better ignored. The retention of power to enrich the family is the platform.

    I wrote a book a few years back (that few bothered to read) titled “Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation with Third World Status”. Well, the GOP that presumes to retain power can now be said that the flirtation has morphed into a full-blown, conjugal affair with greed, bigotry, gangsterism, lies and the immolation of the rule of law.

    Why do they even bother having a “convention”, when all it is is more TV time for the orange shitstain on the fabric of our nation?

  2. I believe we need unity of the generations who can organize a solid base; incorporating the wisdom of experience with the vitality and awareness of new ideas. I am not watching the RNC but have seen a few film clips on “Morning Joe”, enough to let me know I made the correct decision not to watch even to be aware of their 2020 foundation which has been reported as “anything the boss wants”. No new information there.

    The one speaker who had to read his entire prepared speech, while yelling and waving his fist in the air, summed up the entire Convention when he said, “We must protect the Motherland.” Does our younger generation of elected lawmakers know the full impact of that one statement? Reading it in a history book cannot have the impact of our memories of living with what it meant decades ago and the resurrection of it in today’s Trump administration. We are fighting to unite and strengthen the Union…AGAIN.

    A quote attributed to former President John Quincy Adams in the movie, whether historical fact or not, fits here. “And if civil war must come, let it come; and let it be the final battle in our revolution.” We have moved further back in time than the 2016 election or the mid-1950’s; we are starting over to rid the nation of outside aggression…this time from within our own government.

  3. I can’t watch the RNC unconvention without feeling like I’m trapped in a dystopian novel that reminds me at once of “1984”, “Brave New World”, and “Robocop”.

  4. I just finished call training for Joe Biden. Start making calls today. We’ve all got to do everything to make sure those hate-filled people speaking at the RNC do not have another four years.

  5. Sheila is extremely optimistic about Wall Street Joe bridging the gap forty years of Neoliberalism has driven into the working class in America. Lofty speeches won’t cut it anymore. Telling the world that America is no longer exceptional except for the Oligarchs running this country will require salesmanship from the POTUS and the oligarch-controlled media in this country across their target markets.

    Communication will be critical, but the entire Koch-controlled GOP will resist it. We can’t let the government assume more responsibility in Neoliberalism. Well, except for when we control it, will sayeth the Oligarchs. We can’t have the government work for the people, sayeth the Oligarchs.

    Democracy be damned.

    Vernon captured the truth about the GOP; “Why do they (GOP) even bother having a “convention” when all it is is more TV time for the orange shitstain on the fabric of our nation?”

    It’s all campaign rhetoric and propaganda. Do you honestly think his base cares about facts or figures? LOL

    They need bait to make them angrier. Trump’s base needs more to fear.

    That fear is what makes them turn to the “strong man” who they believe Trump represents. A God-given leader of the free world. It’s pathetic to look upon!

  6. Yes, Joe Biden has decades of government experience. So did Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick. But rather than go with someone who might bring about big change, the Party bosses of the Democrat Party went with the old cool guy who will not rock the boat and can read, speak coherently, and listen.
    I look forward to the calm but not the doldrums.

  7. Theresa,

    I think you are mistaken about Biden. This is the time he’s waited his whole life for. He has no future after this and he is driven to pull all the stops. Of course he is careful. When have the Democrats ever been this unified? And there is SO much work to do…

  8. There are two other huge benefits to having Biden as nominee…he has the juice to entice the talent running HHS, State, DOJ, and every other agency to give up their much more lucrative jobs in the private sector and return to public service. He has to do this and do it ASAP. Second–who else could have run and campaign in the middle of a pandemic. The way that Democrats lined up behind Biden after his win in SC, (which we never do) gives me great hope.

  9. Don’t be so hard on yourself. We have a POTUS who’s been INTENTIONALLY wrong over 20,000 times and wrong about everything else countless times.

    It appears Biden and Harris have stretched the tent to include enough to win the election. But it still remains to be seen if they can govern and keep the left under control and the mushy-middle happy. Biden has never run anything more complicated than a US Senate office. Clinton was the Gov of Arkansas but wasted the first 2 years of his Presidency running a shit-show in the WH. Joe has no executive management experience whatsoever but he’s my guy and Harris is my lady (and who DOES have exec mgmt experience, running the CA AG office – larger than many corporate head offices).

  10. Joey will need to put many of the “next generation of leaders” into governing roles in his administration so they can begin to get the unique experience of working for the whole country in divided and challenging times. If he mostly brings back Clinton/Obama vets, it would be a huge mistake and damage future possibilities for both the party and the country. He should also include a few young moderate GOP folks to expand the DEM tent even more.

  11. What do we suppose happens to the Democratic Party if Biden loses to Trump? He is our one and only hope and we all know that Democrats have a way of turning certain victory into defeat. Will a defeat be the end of the Democratic Party ?

  12. One way to look at the contention for President of the country for the near future is that Republicans offer a persona and Democrats offer a team.

    Look at the conventions. The Republican virtual Convention is a celebration of family Trump. It is a blatant example of Trump’s one skill, celebrity name brand management. The Democrat virtual Convention instead promoted the truth of us all being in this together with Biden as the chief organizer of our common effort to progress into a future as a team member and “influencer” of the worlds countries.

    One of the reasons that the Democrat promises seem more likely to get done (beyond the fact that Republicans promise nothing, they can’t even write down what they are thinking of) is that what they demonstrate as a group is more in line with what our founders designed for government through the Constitution. The writers of the Constitution knew the complexity of running a large country. They knew that the job of organizing it requires teamwork, the melding of many perspectives into one coherent set of actions.

    One of the hallmarks of the reign of Trump is his cabinet of synchopants. They have almost no applicable experience among them except the proof that they will be readily willing to bend to Trump’s will. I think that it’s reasonable to expect the Biden/Harris cabinet will resemble the Obama cabinets offering another sharp contrast. We can expect much more a team of rivals that get all issues among them out on the table and available for resolution.

    High contrast for us to choose between. The Constitution vs the Trump name.

  13. Joe needs to improve at the job of spotting and exploiting Republican weaknesses. Trump is running on his economic record. Will Joe mention that there are 30 million workers unemployed and likely to remain so if we continue to fumble the response to coronavirus? Can Joe elucidate how Trump’s tax bill improved only the lives of a small number of rich Americans? Can Joe make people care about income inequality or the perversion of capitalism into a system that only works for the wealthy? Can Joe show people that the lack of a Republican platform means they have run out of ideas to move America forward? Can Joe call on people’s better nature to consider the implications of shooting a black man seven times in the back? Can Joe make people understand and care that Trump has destroyed America’s international reputation? Can Joe shed light on why the world’s leading dictators should not be he president’s best friends? Can Joe make people empathize with children ripped from their parents’ arms and transported to places that make reunions unlikely?

    In other words, can Joe make people understand that we are governed by a criminal who has no compunction about destroying other people or his country if it swells his bank account? And finally, can he do all these things given the number of people who don’t seem to mind Trump’s lawlessness? Let’s hope he’s better at it than I am.

  14. Theresa,

    I’m with you. Appeasement isn’t going to work. It didn’t work with the Nazis in the ’30s nor will it work with Trump in 2020, here in the COUNTRY OF FOOLS.

  15. There are advantages to having experienced people in government. My concern is a revolving door of the same. My hope would be that if Biden wins his Cabinet positions of power are not stacked with Wall Street hacks from JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley,
    Citigroup, etc., or the chemical companies to run the EPA. We need a serious and overdue look at cutting back on the Defense Department spending. A serious commitment to “Green Energy”. A commitment to Single Payer, Universal Health Care for all Americans must be given a fair hearing.

    AOC and other members of “The Squad” should not have to sit down and shut-up. One goal should be to replace Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, hopefully they step aside.

  16. Languor – WADR, Nancy Pelosi has single-handedly stared down the Administration multiple times and somehow managed to keep the Squad from going ballistic. Maybe we need younger leadership – but it will be hard to find someone to equal her governing skills, critical to that role. Can you name one?

  17. Lester,

    Languor – WADR, Nancy Pelosi has single-handedly stared down the Administration multiple times and somehow managed to keep the Squad from going ballistic.

    You are right. Let’s continue to be somewhat realistic.

  18. The Democratic Party and the nation got so lucky with Joe Biden. We didn’t know it in February 2020, but w/the pandemic and economic collapse, there couldn’t be a better person put forth than Joe Biden.

    I know progressives wanted dramatic change. But so many of us just want a return to normalcy, an experienced hand who can steady the ship of state, someone who respects norms and American values. Biden is the perfect person to meet the challenges of 2020.

    Biden is also the perfect person to appeal to moderates who live in the nation’s suburbs. He will build on what happened in 2018. If the D’s had nominated Bernie Sanders, suburbanites would have ended up voting for Trump or staying home. Sanders supporters claim he would juice liberal turnout more in urban areas, motivating voters that Biden wouldn’t. I don’t buy that at all. The one person who will drive turnout in 2020 is Donald J. Trump.

    There is a reason Biden has an almost double figure lead nationally, and is leading in every swing state and leading, or nearly leading, in other states that are not quite considered to be swing states. (States such as Ohio, Iowa and Texas.) While I’m confident in the polls, I am not confident that Trump won’t do everything he can to cheat and discredit the election results. He has already said that if he doesn’t win, that means the election is rigged. His supporters will believe that, even if Biden wins all 50 states.

  19. Monotonous Languor – Replace Nancy Pelosi? You’ve got to be kidding. Nancy Pelosi is one of the few people I’ve seen who knows how to play hardball, and I’m SO glad she’s there. She’s another example of the value of experience.

  20. I read an interesting article a few days ago (wish I could find the link). The article was about the GOP’s transformation into a Reactionary-Right Wing-Evangelical-Neo-Confederate Alliance.

    The article traced back to Joe McCarthy and his influence. McCarthy was the infamous “Red Baiter” who played fast and loose with the facts.

    The John Birch Society was an organized effort in Reactionary Politics. The society was established in Indianapolis, Indiana, on December 9, 1958, by a group of twelve led by Robert W. Welch Jr. One of the first members of the John Birch Society was Fred C. Koch, who became one of its primary financial supporters. founder of Koch Industries.

    In 1962, William F. Buckley Jr., editor of the influential conservative magazine, the National Review, denounced Welch and the John Birch Society as “far removed from common sense” and urged the GOP to purge itself of Welch’s influence.

    Goldwater defeated Nelson Rockefeller for the Republican Nomination in 1964. Rockefeller’s divorce and re-marriage offended the Social Conservatives.

    Here is some early family values: >> Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut, the father of President George H.W. Bush and grandfather of President George W. Bush, was among Rockefeller’s critics on this issue: “Have we come to the point in our life as a nation where the governor of a great state—one who perhaps aspires to the nomination for president of the United States—can desert a good wife, mother of his grown children, divorce her, then persuade a young mother of four youngsters to abandon her husband and their four children and marry the governor?”

    Goldwater’s defense of State’s Rights won the deep south but his defeat in 1964 was stunning. It did set the stage for Nixon’s Southern Strategy, at it’s basic was White Fear. Since then GOP has not backed away from White Fear and have done their best to bring it to a boil, which has attracted the Neo-Confederates and assorted conspiracy types.

    Reagan brought in the Evangelical Right Wing and every day Rush and others preached via the radio about Femi-Nazis and Eco-Terrorists.

    The GOP was ready for The Trumpet and The Trumpet was and is a perfect fit. I did not bother to watch the GOP Convention. Excerpts, I have seen and read about it have as expected hyped up FEAR. From what I understand there is No GOP Platform as the Platform is now whatever The Trumpet says it is. Pastor Pence, the personification of an Empty Brain Dead Human, will add his own groveling remarks.

  21. What! A political convention without a platform (a statement of the issues and how the party proposes to handle them)? Yep! Republican “issues” are manufacured by Boss Trump as he moves along day to day. Dictatorship has its rewards. Without a platform stance on Putin’s bounty games and poisoning opponents there is no standard to live up to other than the standard set by the dictator, King Trump, one instantly approved by his enablers.

    Thus Trump in his true diversionary fashion is still selling Benghazi, but her emails etc. as glaring issues, but not a word on Putin’s bounties that kill American troops, his poisoning and out the window murders of his political opponents, a Putin-friendly Lukashenko theft of yet another “election” in Belarus, a Labor Day count of perhaps as many as 200,000 dead Americans, a deepening domestic recession with a suddenly (after the rich got theirs) laissez faire treatment of some thirty million of the unemployed and small businesses etc. etc. etc.

    I am thinking the Republicans did not do a platform for good reason, i.e., Trump does not want to talk about the really glaring issues of the day for fear they will highlight his continuing and gross incompetence in governing and highlight his bowing and scraping to his one and only boss, Putin. Meanwhile we are left with the reality that unaddressed issues are likely to fester rather than go away on their own (as he has the temerity to predict the virus will do).

    We are in the grip of a criminal enterprise worthy of RICO treatment being served up by its members as a political enterprise. It isn’t; that’s a cover for the godfather and his dons to loot our treasury under the pretense that they are governing, a pretense millions are buying, but one which does not include me.

  22. Please stop referring to Trump as “the Trumpet”. It makes me want to throw up when I’m playing my horn and that could prove hazardous to my health.

  23. Monotonous,

    Good outline about the history of the Republican Party which Trump has pretty much hijacked. However, history isn’t going to answer anything at this point in time. Once Adolph Hitler was in power, what good did history do at that point?

    You have to move and take ACTION PRE-EMPTIVELY in order to change this type of environment. And you can’t do that without any INTELLIGENCE capability. Until that happens, we will continue to see democracy “drained” of any real meaning.

    All you have to do is view and listen to the activities at the Republican National Convention, last night, in North Carolina, to understand what is in store for us in the coming months.

    I’m reminded of Vivian Gornick’s statement about D.H. Lawrence in a recent interview in “The New Yorker” on Feb. 10, 2020:

    “Reading Gornick on Lawrence—and Gornick on Gornick on Lawrence—is exciting. She builds real heat. She admires him for pushing hard, against the bourgeois order that told him and everyone else to sit down and button up—“like an abolitionist among antislavery liberals who say yes, slavery is terrible, but in time it will die out, be patient, while the abolitionist says f–k that, NOW OR NEVER, and goes to war.”

    By the way, “The New York Times” named Gornick’s “Fierce Attachments” the best memoir of the past half-century. Amazon has a special now on Gornick’s books. You can purchase “Fierce Attachments” on Kindle for $2.99.

  24. In the past three months, I’ve purchased over 50 paper and hardback books, as well as, over 50 Kindles, all on the subject of the Trump takeover.

    Not one, not one, not one discussed the MODUS VIVENDI between the Southern Baptist Convention and the Anti-Defamation League which has prevented any effective COUNTERVAILING response to the attempted takeover by the Trump forces. The ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center have been partners since the early ’90s. Historically, there is no precedent for this continual treasonous activity.

    You can’t AVOID this issue. Is there no PATRIOTISM left? If there is, please, someone, direct me to it.

  25. As an attorney, I wanted to make sure I EXHAUSTED ALL REMEDIES before making the above statement.

    You have to go deep, deeper than the deepest, to make a difference within the oligarchic control of the status quo. I know that from my past experience as the strategist for breaking the color barrier within college football in the “Deep South” in the 1961 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville and also the victory for 1 man, 1 vote, in Dallas in 1991. See http://www.TheAlarmReport.info

  26. Theresa,

    It seems to me that the voters chose Biden – not the Party bosses. My reading of that is that, particularly in the South, voters got pragmatic and narrowed things down quickly. Once the writing was on the wall, candidates folded rather than keep things going when they had no path forward. Pretty quickly, the only people who had any chance was Biden and Bernie – and voters decided on Biden. What nobody wanted was a contested primary convention.

    It’s easy to assume our thought silo is shared by more people than it really is. I believe that the country, as a whole, is not at all ready for the wholesale changes that Sanders represents – if it were we wouldn’t have the current government that we have. I think it’s a mistake also to think that a Sanders or Warren in the White House wouldn’t have run into same kind of stonewalling that Obama did.

    If we can make progress on global climate change, the Supreme Court, health care, environmental issues, racial issues and this Covid mess – that’s a huge win, especially in contrast to the current place in which we find ourselves.

  27. I’ve been participating on this blog for over 5 years and have been mentioning the problem of creating a countervailing force from pretty much the beginning. No one has ever specifically responded, which is understandable.

    If I told you the FBI was the problem like I have continued to point out about the SPLC and ADL. What would you do? Nothing. The same goes for the SPLC and the ADL. You’re too scared. I don’t blame you.

    G-d save us all!

  28. Marv,

    Please enlighten me on why the ADL, which has called for Stephen Miller’s firing (I’m 110% in favor of this)and called out Trump’s antisemitism (he hates Jews and uses them as articles of convenience) is a problem. They also favor a two state solution for Israel/Palestine. I’m not being a wise guy. I’m asking for information.

  29. Terry,

    I have no problem with what is transpiring at the present time with the ADL or the SPLC. Both of their longtime leaders are gone. Abe Foxman of the ADL is long gone and Morris Dees, leader of the SPLC, resigned in disgrace a year or so ago.

    Nevertheless, take a look at my essay entitled DEMOCRACIDE: The Far Right’s Path to Power (1993). It was co-written by my long-time companion and me, after I returned to Jacksonville, my home town, after living in Dallas for over 25 years.

    The website for DEMOCRACIDE can be viewed at http://www.Democracide.info. Read the 22nd paragraph and then we can begin a most important discussion, where I will be glad to explore the devastating problem with you, at length, on this blog, if it is o.k. with Sheila.

  30. I agree with you about needing a person with experience such as that which Joe Biden definitely displays. Perhaps he could employ the services of some of the other candidates against whom he campaigned for his position as the cadidate of choice and offer them spots in his cabinet or other areas of leadership. They were all bright, energetic and forward thinking younger people.

  31. Terry,

    After we published Democracide in 1993, The ADL countered, immediately, with “The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance & Pluralism in America” in 1994, a failed attempt to cover their tracks. Their book is outstanding for understanding the Religious Right except for one thing. They left out the modus vivendi they had arranged with the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas.

    In the INDEX to the ADL’s book, you gotta laugh: Southern Baptist Convention, 7 n. 70 and Home Mission Board, 50. Nothing more. At the time, there were more Baptist ministers in the Southern Baptist Convention than Catholic priests in America.

    The ADL had no presence in Dallas till 1970. At that time, I was the General Counsel for the McLendon Corporation. They had a media empire of radio stations around the U.S. as well as owning, at the time, I believe 400 motion picture theaters. Because of the prestigious position I had with McLendon, I was asked to be on the first Board of Directors of the ADL, which now had an office in Dallas, one of the most anti-Semitic cities in the “free world.”

    Consequently, I’ve had to witness this horror show produced by the ADL for 50 years. Maybe one day I will be able to have a pleasant night’s sleep. However, I doubt that will ever happen in my lifetime.

    Footnote: Back in 1968, I had been part of a 3 man team of federal prosecutors in the U.S. Tax Court who tried H.L. Hunt, at the time, supposedly the richest man in the world. Hunt controlled through his wealth and bigotry the Southern Baptist Convention. Both headquartered in Dallas.

    (to be continued, maybe?)

  32. No one knows the machinations of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Anti-Defamation League better than I do, which I’m not proud to say. Why do you think we can’t do anything with Trump’s major constituency of evangelical Christians? They’ve been trained to direct their hatred on the Jews in America while supporting the State of Israel for fifty years.

    That’s the effect of the MODUS VIVENDI: $$$$ for Israel in exchange for unchallenged hatred of American Jewry, the effect of which has mutated into other minority groups, especially African-Americans. [ I testified, as the sole witness, for three hours on the FUTURE effect of this phenomenon in a closed session of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission convened in Jacksonville in 1992].

    Do I need to say anymore at this time? Probably not.

  33. Obama would not have been as successful as he was without Biden’s relationships on Capitol Hill, especially in the Senate. Obama had not been in the Senate long enough to establish those long and strong relationships. Obama also had the immense benefit of Pelosi’s skill and fortitude in the House.

    With the current President’s lack of knowledge, understanding, integrity, and experience in how public service differs so markedly from private enterprise, I LONG for someone of Biden’s experience, knowledge, and relationships in government. It’ll take all that and more besides to repair the tremendous damage Trump has wrought.

Comments are closed.