News Release

Joe Biden: “Yesterday’s Man”


BRANKO MARCETIC, branko.95.m at, @BMarchetich
Marcetic is author of the recently released book Yesterday’s Man: the Case Against Joe Biden. See his pieces on Biden at In These Times and Jacobin.

He said today: “Biden launched his 2020 campaign boasting about his liberal bona fides, and now stresses that he is a ‘proud’ and ‘lifelong Democrat.’ Yet not only did not become a Democrat until he was 27, for much of his career, Biden has run away from the ‘liberal’ label, telling the press in 1972 he was ‘not as liberal as most people think,’ a belief repeated by local Democrats who believed he was to the right of his Republican opponent. As one former state party chairman recalled: ‘he had no substantive ideology.’

“Rather than follow his principles, Biden instead chased the political winds. After a winning 1972 campaign that rivaled Bernie Sanders in its economic progressivism, Biden lurched in a conservative direction for re-election six years later, calling for a ‘massive tax cut,’ across-the-board cuts to federal agencies, and calling himself a fiscal conservative. Endorsed by conservative businessman Howard Jarvis, a backer of California’s anti-tax Proposition 13, he was first ‘delighted’ he’d been recognized for ‘consistently vot[ing] for lower taxes and lower government spending;’ days later, as he warned about Proposition 13, he told a mostly black audience he didn’t ‘have any feelings’ about the endorsement.

“Biden welcomed Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election, believing it was ‘more consistent with the budgetary thrust that a guy like me … has been going for for the past few years.’ Reagan’s first budget, passed with votes from Biden and 29 other Democrats, was recognized by the New York Times and Washington Post as a milestone reversing the New Deal and Great Society. As Biden had begun saying, ‘we can’t solve all social problems by an endless succession of government programs.’

“Biden’s duplicity hit a peak with his 1987 presidential campaign. After boasting of his civil rights activism for years, he was forced to confess it wasn’t true. Having spent years alluding to his anti-Vietnam War protesting, he admitted he had never been one — an old friend even said he was ‘for a long time pretty much a supporter.’ This was compounded by scandals around plagiarizing his own family history from a British politician and a series of false statements about his academic record, forcing him to drop out. He has lately begun repeating some of these claims.

“He increasingly became cozy with wealthy donors. After refusing to ‘prostitute’ himself to such donors who ‘always want something,’ and complaining that all campaign donations came with an ‘implicit’ quid pro quo, from 1978 on, Biden increasingly drew money from big business and the rich, by which he outraised his opponents. By the 1990s, Biden was caught in scandals for weakening criminal penalties for bank fraud at the behest of a disgraced savings-and-loan executive.

“’It’s going over my dead political body that they succeed,’ Biden said in 1995 about the new, Newt Gingrich-led House GOP majority. ‘I’m looking forward to beating the hell out of Republicans.’ Instead, Biden spent the decade working with those same Republicans to pass their agenda, passing NAFTA, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the 1994 crime bill, anti-immigration powers that would later be used by Trump, and welfare reform, which Republican Senate Majority Leader called ‘the Holy Grail of [the GOP’s] legislative master plan.’ Another plank of that plan, a balanced budget amendment, narrowly failed three separate times, with Biden voting for it with a lockstep Republican Party on each occasion.”