Biden's Lie About Nelson Mandela and the Dog That Didn't Bark
There was much angry barking directed at Bernie Sanders during the most recent Democratic presidential debate. But the Bernie Bros shouldn't worry, because it still looks like their guy is on his way to securing the Democratic nomination.
That's not the only story from the debate in South Carolina. There is more to politics than the barking for TV. Listen for what you don't hear, think of what's being avoided, look for the negative space between the dancers. The silence that tells you the story.
Like that dog that didn't bark at Joe Biden over his lie about Nelson Mandela.
And the silence of conventional wisdom, as pundits decide which Democratic presidential candidate to deem a "moderate," as if any of them are moderates in a party leaning wildly to the left. Conservative radio host Dan Proft has zeroed in on this phenomenon on his national radio program. He likens it to the rivalry between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in Russia early in the last century.
Proft has a dog named Hayek. And it also barks. But for now, let's deal with the silent dogs.
First, Biden. He may win in South Carolina, he may not. Either way his campaign is dying. He's a bad candidate, a serial fabulist undone by his Ukrainian exploits, and like some drunk at the end of the bar at 4 a.m., Biden is always the hero of his own epic tale.
But the death of the Biden campaign, and the desperate pandering lie that Biden has been telling African American voters about Nelson Mandela, is most instructive.
Pandering to black voters is what white Democrats do for a living. The party has been completely consumed by identity and grievance politics. Without black votes, there is no Democratic Party. And such pandering is evidence that white Democrats who play the game hold their most loyal, core constituency in contempt.
Biden's lie about Mandela was wrapped in silence on that debate stage. It wasn't mentioned by his rivals and was studiously avoided by the hapless CBS debate moderators who lost control. No one thought to bring it up as a question, though the Biden lie had been exposed by The New York Times and other news organizations.
Biden told it repeatedly in South Carolina as black voters breached his so-called firewall and began warming to Bernie Sanders.
"This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid," Biden told voters in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 11, in a story about his time as the Democratic senator from Delaware. "I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on [Robben] Island."
With Sanders reaching black voters, Biden retold his lie about Mandela at a black history awards brunch in Las Vegas, and even added some Bidenesque embellishments.
"He threw his arms around me and said, 'I want to say thank you,'" Biden told supporters. "I said, 'What are you thanking me for, Mr. President?' He said: 'You tried to see me. You got arrested trying to see me.' "
Mandela, the liberating force who ended South African apartheid, was that country's first black president and died in 2013.
Andrew Young was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and traveled with Biden to South Africa. He scoffed at the notion that members of Congress had been arrested.
"No, I was never arrested, and I don't think he was, either," Young was quoted by the Times as saying.
That's polite political speech for "Joe is a big fat liar pandering for black votes."
Media clearly likes Biden. Until a few months ago, he was the Democratic Party establishment hope for defeating President Donald Trump. Then Nancy Pelosi's ill-advised Trump Impeachment Theater backfired, exposing Biden and his son Hunter's lucrative dealings with a politically connected natural gas company in Ukraine.
Now the Biden campaign is sheepishly walking back Joe's story about his arrest in South Africa. What would Biden call himself -- a "lying dog-faced pony soldier"?
And what of that other silent dog at the debate?
The common media wisdom, expressed by the silky Mayor Pete Buttigieg, was that Sanders is too "radical" as compared with other Democratic candidates. Sanders deconstructed that as pure nonsense. Mayor Pete could see where it was going and began babbling, trying to talk over the older man. Sanders wouldn't back down.
"Let us be clear," Sanders said. "Do we think that health care for all, Pete, is some kind of radical communist idea? Do we think raising the minimum wage to a living wage, do we think building millions of units of affordable housing, do we think raising taxes on billionaires is a radical idea? Do we think criminal justice reform is a radical idea? Do we think immigration reform is a radical idea? Truth is, Pete, the American people support my agenda, that is why I am beating Trump in virtually every poll and that is why I will win."
Do Democrats running for president oppose those ideas? No.
That's why Proft and other conservative intellectuals have discussed this "moderate" Democrat business in the context of the Russian Bolsheviks and their rivals, the Mensheviks.
They were both going in the same direction, but the Mensheviks were timid and wanted to go at a slower pace. The Bolsheviks thought them weaklings and wanted to get there in a hurry. And so does Bernie.
This is shaping up to be a fantastic campaign, just as long as the dogs bark, occasionally.
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