Quin Hillyer


I happen to be reading Ronald Reagan’s presidential diaries right now. Just last night, I came across a concise gem of insight into what and who Joe Biden always has been.

Reagan’s diaries were hand-written, often in a sort of shorthand and with rushed, sketchy spelling, but they are insightful and illuminating about the life, schedule, and portfolio of a president. Even in private diaries, Reagan’s sunny personality and quick wit shine brightly. Even his criticisms of his political opponents usually lack harsh edges.

But Biden really rubbed Reagan the wrong way. The key entry came on June 15, 1987. This was just three days after perhaps the single most famous speech of Reagan’s presidency, the one where he stood in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” It was the signature moment encapsulating the “Reagan doctrine,” which asserted that Soviet communism could be not just “contained” but actually rolled back and eventually defeated.

On the most important issue facing statesmen in Biden’s entire apparently never-ending career, Biden was completely wrong. He opposed Reagan at every step. And right after Reagan’s “wall” speech, Biden again took the line that Reagan shouldn’t dare to provoke the Soviet bear.

Thus, on June 15, Reagan wrote in his diary about a meeting with some of his top aides: “[There was] some talk about Sen. Biden — now candidate for Pres. I saw him on CNN last night speaking to the John F. Kennedy school at Harvard U. He’s smooth but pure demagog[ue] — out to save Am[erica] from the Reagan doctrine.”

Yes, “demagogue.” From Reagan, that’s especially strong stuff. But it’s entirely accurate. Biden’s whole career was built on doing whatever it took to “connect” with an audience, no matter how many fibs and exaggerations and plagiarisms it took — and no matter how wrong his policy analyses were.

And wrong they were, especially when it came to national defense and foreign policy. Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served presidents of both parties, famously said that Biden had been wrong about “nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Biden was wrong on the Reagan doctrine, wrong on the 1980s defense buildup, wrong on the Strategic Defense Initiative. He was wrong to oppose the first Gulf War, when a U.S.-led coalition deftly kicked Saddam Hussein’s troops out of Kuwait. Under President Barack Obama, Biden was wrong to advise against the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. And when President Trump ordered the successful and helpful killing of Iran’s terrorist-supporting Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Biden opposed that, too.

A liberal friend of mine told me within this past year that Biden is a “purely transactional” politician. That’s what makes demagoguery come so easily to him: His only conviction is that he should be president, so he’ll say whatever it takes to get there. And on all the many times he is wrong, well, he’ll just discard his demagoguery on that issue and move on to the next one.

Well, if it’s foreign or defense policy, he’ll be wrong on the next one as well. That would make him a dangerous president. It’s why making him president is one transaction a lot of voters won’t want to make.

Author: Quin Hillyer, Commentary Writer

Source: Washington Examiner: Ronald Reagan warned us against Biden

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