Isn’t it clear that President Trump really enjoys upsetting the people who claim to report the news? I imagine him occasionally tuning in to CNN or MSNBC for the sheer enjoyment of the latest spectacle as the talking heads try to outdo each other in displaying their outrage and disgust.
Trump did it again this week when he said, “Obama took him [Vice President Joe Biden] out of the garbage heap, and everybody was shocked that he did.”
If you recall, “everybody was shocked” gets it about right. At the time, many people considered to be in the know struggled to explain Barack Obama’s choice for a running mate in 2008. As it happens, I was at a dinner party right after Obama made his announcement. The guest of honor was a very senior person in Washington politics and everyone at the table, except for me, was an acknowledged expert. “Why Biden?” was the topic of the evening. Obama was still very much a mystery to many people then, and the reasons offered for the Biden choice, for the most part, reflected each person’s take on how to understand Obama.
Mine too. I chimed in last. When I said “I think I know why,” I suddenly had everyone’s attention. When I said, “Obama chose Biden because he is the most pro-Iranian person in Congress” I was met by looks that asked what in the heck I was talking about.
But we all found out soon enough. That Obama consistently supported the mullahs throughout his time in office—during the uprising in Iran in 2009, by sending Iran billions, including an airlift of vast quantities of cash(!), and by lifting the sanctions when sanctions were threatening the mullahs’ grip on power—came close to defining his foreign policy.
Personnel is policy. Choosing Biden meant Obama was going to follow a pro-Iranian policy, just as his selection of Eric Holder to head the Department of Justice predicted the lawlessness and corruption we are witnessing there today.
I am no insider. I don’t know why Biden favors Iran, though the fact that he does has been mentioned from time to time in the news over the years. My favorite was reported by The New Republic:
It’s exactly three Tuesdays since the September attacks, and Biden is presiding over a morning meeting of his committee staffers. It’s a formidable group—a collection of super-earnest twentysomethings and grave committee veterans, all wearing dark suits and grim faces. Biden, with his pearly smile and sugar-white hair, seems almost to glow in contrast…
Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: “I’m groping here.” Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we’re not bent on its destruction. “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran,” Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.
The staffers sit in silence. Finally somebody ventures a response: “I think they’d send it back.” Then another aide speaks up delicately: “The thing I would worry about is that it would almost look like a publicity stunt.” Still another reminds Biden that an Iranian delegation is in Moscow that very day to discuss a $300 million arms deal with Vladimir Putin that the United States has strongly condemned.
But Joe Biden is barely listening anymore. He’s already moved on to something else.
Of course, $200 million is chicken feed compared to the actual amounts Obama managed to send, but his bright idea did demonstrate that Biden’s heart was in the right place from Obama’s point of view.
The New Republic article also tells us something revealing about the U.S. news media. Imagine what the press would have done to Biden if it treated Biden the way it treats Trump. Instead of accusing him of treason for suggesting America send money—“no strings attached”—to Iran just days after 9/11, the friendly article makes this only another example of ol’ Joe being Joe—and moves on.
Photo credit: Atef Safadi (Pool)/Getty Images