By Patrick Lawrence / Original to ScheerPost
At writing, we are 16 months and five days from the 2024 presidential election. If a week is a long time in politics, there is too strong a chance that the interim upon us will prove one of awful eventfulness. In my read, the risk of brazen lawlessness in the upper reaches of power and, in consequence, a constitutional crisis, is now greater than at any point in the postwar period. It is time to brace ourselves against this eventuality.
Is there any other plausible conclusion as things now stand? I do not see one. Two reasons:
One, the Democrats have emerged since Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016 as a party of liberal authoritarians intent on imposing their political hegemony on our republic by whatever means this project requires. Nothing is out of bounds, as these people have already demonstrated. Two, in what looks like one of the great political miscalculations in my lifetime, the Democrats are determined to stand a candidate in 2024 whose senility has been publicly on display for the past two years and change.
This is a combustible pair of realities. The second of these, President Biden’s failing mental condition, makes the first of these, the culture of authoritarian righteousness in the Democratic mainstream, very perilous. The party hierarchy has already declared Biden will not face any challenger in a primary debate—an openly antidemocratic regression without precedent since televised debates became essential to the political process during the Kennedy–Nixon contest in 1960. What else will come in this line, we have to ask. In my judgment, the Democrats’ willingness to let Biden run again is all too suggestive of what dangers and disorders may come between now and Tuesday, November 5, 2024. They appear determined, one way or another, to keep this man in the White House. This is not a thought with which one rests easily.
Things have gone very poorly for Joe Biden since he moved into the White House two and a half years ago. Yes, he continues to hide behind that carnival barker’s smile he plastered on as political equipment 50–odd years ago. But if the president and all the president’s men and women are not in the way of desperate at this point, they are in the way of insentient. In his Substack newsletter a few weeks ago, Seymour Hersh quoted one of his inside sources saying the administration is a behind-closed-doors madhouse. I see no reason to doubt this.
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Let’s briefly run down the list.
Biden, who carried the Ukraine portfolio during his years as Barack Obama’s vice-president, went to work provoking a war between Ukraine and Russia—a proxy war, of course—as soon as he took office. Better put, he escalated his previous efforts in this line once he won the White House. Here is John Mearsheimer, the prominent foreign relations scholar, on this point during an interview The Grayzone published Sunday:
I think it was stupidity. I think you can’t underestimate just how foolish the West is when it comes to the whole question of Ukraine—and all sorts of other issues as well. But I think that the West believed—and here we’re talking mainly about the United States—that if a war did break out between Ukraine and Russia, that the West plus Ukraine would prevail, that the Russians would be defeated. I believe we thought that was the case.
It is now clear that the Ukraine project, the centerpiece of a president who has long traveled on the myth of his foreign policy expertise, is a flop. There will be no Russian withdrawal or defeat, and the Kyiv regime is exposed as a right-wing gathering of compulsive crooks. Along with this goes Biden’s cosmic democrats-vs-authoritarians proposal to organize the 21st century: Nobody beyond the West and its appendages wants anything to do with it. Americans, let’s note immediately, are paying dearly for these escapades—in out-of-pocket expenses as well as in lost opportunity, a larger category of costs, and they appear at last to be figuring this out.
On the domestic side it is one bit of tomfoolery after another with these people. We are now treated to the notion of “Bidenomics.” Not even Biden knows what Bidenomics is supposed to be about. It comes to little more than citations of job numbers that do not mean much unless wage numbers are also considered, and wage numbers are left out of the Bidenomics equation. Remember Build Back Better? Oh, come on, you must, distant as the memory is at this point.
There is the censorship case, in which the Biden regime is charged with First Amendment violations for colluding with Silicon Valley to suppress dissenting opinion. As widely reported, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the Biden regime and numerous of its operatives several weeks ago. In doing so he suggested clearly that the final judgment, now pending, is likely to go to the plaintiffs, the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana as well as five private citizens.
The Hunter Biden affair, growing like a grotesque weed as we speak, could now prove to be Biden’s greatest vulnerability—and so the Democratic Party’s. The House Oversight Committee is looking at documents directly implicating the president in bribery schemes that brought the Biden family $17 million during Joe’s time as Obama’s veep. A federal judge in Delaware has thrown back Hunter’s disgraceful plea bargain, rejecting the preposterous provision that the president’s son be immune from all future findings of corruption. “The blanket shield against any other charges based on past misconduct was so inappropriate,” Michael Goodwin wrote in the New York Post over the weekend, “that the only possible explanation is that the aim was to shut down the probe of the family permanently.”
No, they are not insentient. They are desperate.
There are, finally, the Biden Justice Department under Merrick Garland and the FBI under Christopher Wray. The latter, continuing the practice during the Russiagate years, has, open and shut, turned the agency into a politicized instrument at the Democratic Party’s disposal, most recently by withholding for several years documents exposing Joe Biden’s direct involvement in Hunter’s influence-peddling schemes. Anyone who does not recognize the political motives of Garland’s campaign to get Donald Trump jailed and, on the other side, his direction of the Hunter Biden plea deal, is reading too many Gail Collins columns.
Look at this mess. A senile president—the physicians call Biden’s condition “neurocognitive disorder,” but “senile” or “demented” is what they mean—is standing for reelection with a wasteful proxy war failing, nothing much to show for himself at home, mounting evidence of epic-scale personal corruption, institutional failure of the same magnitude: There is only one way to explain this shambles: Every one of these crises traces back to the Democratic Party’s obsession with taking and holding power more or less indefinitely to suit its hubristic, end-of-history “narrative” of righteous liberal triumph.
I do not approve of columnists who self-reference, but I will breach my own rule on this occasion.
I warned when all this started in 2016–2017 that liberal authoritarianism was vastly more dangerous than Trump’s arrival on the political scene. And here we are. I am reminded of my Tokyo years, when we used to say the governing Liberal Democratic Party was neither liberal nor democratic nor a party. As the Democratic Party has reconstituted itself in response to the Clinton defeat seven years ago, it is neither democratic nor, given how it operates, properly a party. It is a diabolic machine built to seize and hold power without reference to law or institutional integrity.
There are some suggestive polling numbers in the Michael Goodwin column mentioned above. Half of those surveyed by Reuters/Ipsos in June, as Hunter Biden’s plea bargain took shape, thought the president’s son was getting favorable treatment. This included a third of all Democrats, count ’em, and more than 40 percent of those independent of either party. Translation: Half the country recognizes the White House and the DoJ as corrupted.
In the same line, a Quinnipiac University poll conducted at roughly the same time found that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed think the DoJ’s indictments of Donald Trump are politically motivated. Translation: Most people recognize that A–G Garland has corrupted the DoJ as an impartial institution charged with enforcing the law without favor.
I do not argue here that the game is up for the Biden regime. There are many more moves to come on this perilous, play-for-keeps game board. Mainstream media are so far holding the line, but at this point they may as well be telling us the sky is not blue and it does not get dark at night. There are limits—somewhere out there—and a denouement of one of another kind coming, surely.
Let us finish with a consideration of what may come during our 16 months and five days of uncertainty.
Impeachment proceedings are an obvious possibility at this point—and seem a lot closer than they did even a few weeks ago. The decisive factor here is how seriously the House Oversight Committee follows the lines of inquiry now opening up to it. I cannot read this at the moment. Even among those driven by purely partisan sentiment, it is a very grave matter to impeach a president when you know you have the goods on him. The Trump impeachments were spectacle and intended as such. The material coming to the surface against Biden is entirely more serious.
A reader of these columns suggested in a recent comment thread that, should the corruption charges mount such that denial and games of pretend are no longer feasible, Biden may resort to a major, all-bets-are-off escalation in Ukraine such that the mess at home gets shoved into the background and—most favorable outcome—never returns to the headlines. More perverse, inhumane things have happened. Two weeks after I voted for the first and last time in my life, for Bill Clinton in 1998, he sent a cruise missile into the only pharmaceutical plant in Sudan to get people to stop thinking about his pleasures with Monica Lewinsky. This is a minor case next to numerous others.
Biden is on the very brink of a Nixonian, I-am-not-a-crook moment in his corruption messes. He is already deflecting in ridiculous fashion. Asked about the bribes he replied to a reporter, “Where’s the money?” When Miranda Devine, the New York Post columnist, asked him recently why Hunter was named to a well-paying position in Ukraine in 2014, Joe replied, “Because he’s a very bright guy.” Joe Biden is buck-dancing at this point. I cannot see that he will get away with doing so much longer.
The question here is simple. A short while after Nixon’s not-a-crook speech, he was forced to resign. Will Biden meet the same fate? The problem here is to whom Biden would hand off. At this point in the American story, the Deep State or whatever you wish to call it seems to prefer semi-competent or incompetent White House occupants who stay out of the way while they run the imperium. But Kamala Harris … well, once again there are limits.
The biggest worry we face is that, should desperation among Democrats spread as is very possible now, they will corrupt the political process yet further than it already is, and we are in for one or another degree of civil disorder. I rate this a strong possibility. The liberal authoritarians, their dream of domestic hegemony a sand castle washing out to sea, have nowhere else to turn, as the case of Devon Archer bitterly reminds us.
Archer, formerly in business with Hunter Biden, was previously found guilty of some kind of swindle involving fraudulent bonds and was awaiting his reporting date to begin serving a sentence of one year and one day. No date had been set.
Now to the chase: Archer was scheduled to appear at a House Oversight Committee hearing early this week, during which he was expected to testify under oath that he was present on various occasions when Joe and Hunter Biden conducted their influence-peddling business. Out of nowhere, the DoJ ordered him over the weekend to report immediately to the prison where he was to begin serving his sentence. At one point, Archer was reported to be in hiding—in hiding from the judicial authorities charged with enforcing the law. And immediate uproar—James Comer, who chairs Oversight, denounced the move as straight-out obstruction of justice—appears to have forced the DoJ to relent. Archer testified for several hours behind closed doors on Monday.
We do not know everything Archer said, and his lawyer, who has close ties to the Democratic hierarchy, may have advised him to resort to “I do not recall” in reply to numerous questions. But Archer seems nonetheless to have said plenty. Joe Biden worked intimately and regularly with Hunter as his son built “the brand,” Archer testified. Hunter put “the Big Guy” on his speakerphone during more than 20 calls in the course of his influence-peddling projects. There were dinners with Hunter and those to whom he was selling access to “my guy.”
The spin coming out of the Democratic quadrant since Archer’s testimony is quite beyond belief. Hunter wasn’t peddling access to Joe: That was just a ruse to fool those with whom he was dealing. All those telephone calls were just father-son stuff. Yes, he met some of Hunter’s business “associates” and, yes, there were dinners at Georgetown restaurants, but it was all just “casual conversation.” They talked about “the weather.”
The ice across which these people are skating is getting awfully thin, I would say.
Lies told straight to our faces. More or less complete unaccountability. Lawlessness in the name of the law. This is what I mean by acts of desperation. And what I mean when I suggest we must brace ourselves for what is to come.
Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a media critic, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored without explanation.