In Norwegian, the word for inauguration, innsettelse, shares a root with bisettelse, the word for funeral. On the day after Joe Biden was sworn in, my friend Roger in Oslo joked that he’d watched the whole bisettelse on TV.
At a time like this, the only options for a sane freedom-lover are revolution, drugs, and gallows humor.
I watched the bisettelse, too. I thought Lady Gaga did a spectacular job with the National Anthem. She was a terrible choice, though. Her vivacity served only to underscore, by contrast, the fact that the new occupant of the White House is a walking corpse.
While he was delivering his address, I was so focused on the question of the day—would he get through it without zoning out?—that I barely noticed how vapid and mendacious the speech itself was.
But it was both of those things, in spades—vapid and mendacious.
It was ironic to find oneself listening to such a piece of drivel after four years during which the media told us, repeatedly, that Donald Trump spoke at the level of a middle schooler—and spoke too roughly and bluntly, in a style that was scandalously “unpresidential.”
True enough. He shot from the hip. He didn’t waste his audiences’ time with platitudes, with pap. Unlike Barack Obama, Trump didn’t fancy himself an orator come down from Olympus to turn mere words into glorious music.
Truth, Lies, and “Unity”
The media also said that Trump lied. Well, he exaggerated. But lies? Not really. Not about the big stuff, anyway. Biden’s speech, by contrast, in addition to being a string of clichés written on a grade-school level, was one big fat lie. And at its climax, he professed a profound love for the truth.
The truth! This, after four years of non-stop lies by Biden, Kamala Harris, and their fellow Democrats. Lies about Russian collusion. Lies about Antifa not really existing and about “peaceful protests” that were, in fact, violent riots. Lies about Trump purportedly praising white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Lies about a Supreme Court appointee’s supposedly debauched behavior decades ago, in high school, when he was, in reality, a nerdy churchgoing bookworm.
Lies holding Trump responsible for the disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by Andrew Cuomo and other Democratic governors.
Lies asserting that the scandalous facts about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine payday, and about Joe’s own big payout from China, were lies.
And, in the end, lies about who really won the election, and lies that Trump incited his supporters to flood the Capitol on January 6.
In his speech, Biden not only rhapsodized over the value of truth but also called for unity. “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility.”
Of course, it was Biden and his fellow Democrats who’d been waging war against the rest of America for four years. But now that they’ve stolen the presidency, Biden wants to hold himself up as a voice of unity.
His speech made it clear, however, that he means unity on his terms. Want to be part of his “unity”? Then buy into the lie of “systemic racism.” Buy into the lie of a “climate in crisis.” Buy into the lie that America stands not just for equality but for “equity.”
Or else be prepared to reap the whirlwind—to be canceled, deplatformed, or even fired for having been a Trump supporter.
The Media’s Silver-Tongued Saint
After the speech, Biden and Harris drove out to Arlington National Cemetery. Why wait till the last minute? I wondered whether she was bringing along a shovel.
“With unity we can do great things,” said Biden in his speech. “Important things.” What kind of things? He provided us with some examples almost immediately.
Heading from Arlington to the White House, he signed a flurry of executive orders undoing some of Trump’s best moves. Bringing the United States back into the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Agreement. Canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, the so-called Muslim travel ban, and the construction of the border wall. Setting illegal aliens and so-called “Dreamers” on the road to citizenship.
He’d already named his new secretary of the interior, who supports Black Lives Matter. His new assistant secretary of health, meanwhile, is that hideous M-to-F clown from Pennsylvania, Rachel Levine, who removed her nonagenarian mother from a personal care home after ordering nursing homes in the state to readmit residents testing positive for COVID-19.
But back to the speech. Reportedly composed in part by Jon Meacham, that slick operator, it was delivered by a wraithlike figure who may or may not have been fully aware of what he was saying as he read the words off his teleprompter. All in all, a dispiriting and rather creepy experience. But the media, after four years of depicting Trump as a semi-literate Satan, felt obliged to celebrate Biden as a silver-tongued saint.
Chris Wallace of Fox News called it “the best inaugural address I ever heard.” George Stephanopoulos of ABC said it was “powerful.” On CNN, Van Jones proclaimed that “there was not one part of that that wasn’t just medicine in the wound . . . Joe Biden is going to train us to see the world differently.”
Ridiculous, all of it, needless to say, although that last bit from Jones brushed up against a certain unsettling truth. First, note that Jones’ vision was right out of scripture: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelations 21:1). And don’t forget St. Paul: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). All of which fits neatly into the new practice of treating Biden as quasi-divine.
No, Biden can’t train us to see the world anew. But with enough power, he and his party, which now controls both houses of Congress, may well be able to compel a great many of us to pretend, at least, out of a sense of self-preservation, to see the world through a new set of eyes—in short, to parrot obediently the brave new gospel of critical race theory, white supremacy, gender fluidity, and so on. Lies, all of them, but refuse to subscribe to them and you’ll risk being branded an enemy of the truth.
If you’ve never read Nineteen Eighty-Four, this might be the perfect time to do so. At least buy a copy before Amazon decides to stop selling it.