Of Deranged Wolves and Their Shadows

In 2003, the late Charles Krauthammer coined the term “Bush Derangement Syndrome” (BDS), which he described as “the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency—nay—the very existence of George W. Bush.” Fourteen years later, in the first year of the Trump presidency, Krauthammer diagnosed what he called the “most recent offshoot” of BDS, Trump Derangement Syndrome. The difference between the two, he wrote, was that the latter threatened to become “endemic” because “Trump Derangement Syndrome is not just general hysteria about the subject, but additionally the inability to distinguish between legitimate policy differences on the one hand and signs of psychic pathology on the other.”

This was meant as a swipe at Trump as well as his critics, of course, but was mostly a warning to the “Resistance.” Its inability to differentiate between Trump the politician and Trump the online troll would, he cautioned, cause it to look especially foolish and unhinged. If they could not come to grips with the differences between his official and unofficial personae, they would run the risk of doing something truly stupid and self-destructive.

At present, Krauthammer is being proven especially prophetic.

Because of their unparalleled and exceptionally unbalanced detestation of Donald Trump, the mainstream media, the Democratic political establishment, and indeed, much of the Republican establishment agreed—albeit tacitly—to pretend that Joe Biden was fine, that he was maybe “slowing down” a bit and was “getting older” but was otherwise perfectly fit to be president. They knew Biden was the only one of the Democratic candidates in 2020 who could beat Trump, and so they knew that he had to be made to appear perfectly normal and competent. The catch, of course, is that they also knew that he wasn’t fine and that he wasn’t perfectly normal and competent. Consider, for example, the following from The New York Times:

As aides and allies watched Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s first debate performance last month, their initial optimism about his abilities turned to alarm…. It wasn’t just Mr. Biden’s halting answers that worried some of them…. he appeared slow off the mark, uncertain about how to counterpunch.

Within minutes, aides sent talking points to supporters….But his top advisers and other Democrats knew his unsteady response…would exacerbate questions about whether Mr. Biden, a veteran debater, was nimble enough to handle intense campaign moments or to beat President Trump.

For the record, those words were not written after last month’s disastrous debate with Donald Trump, but on July 29, 2019, after Biden’s disastrous debate with the rest of the Democratic field and after his especially pathetic exchanges with then-Senator Kamala Harris (of all people). The point here is that questions about Biden’s mental fitness are nothing new. They have been a constant throughout his post-Obama administration return to politics. The idea that Joe Biden’s mental infirmities only manifested themselves last week or that they’ve only become an issue in the last few months is absolute nonsense. His infirmities have been obvious to anyone with eyes and ears for far longer than he’s been president.

Today, some in the media are playing a cynical game of CYA, insisting that passages like those above serve as proof that they did, in fact, address Biden’s burgeoning dementia but that they were kept in the dark about its true extent by deceptive and dishonest political aides and operatives. While there is some small truth in the charge that the people closest to Biden were unusually protective of him and hid his cognitive decline, the larger truth is that the mainstream press served as their witting accomplices. Some journalists would introduce and discuss Biden’s age-related issues, but they would discuss them in precisely those terms: “age-related issues.” They would then conclude that judging someone based on age was prejudicial and wrong and that to do so made one a bigot of some sort. Meanwhile, the rest of the media ran blanket cover for the Democrats and their nominee, gaslighting voters and political commentators, insisting that criticism of Biden amounted to Trump-inspired conspiracy-mongering. All the while, the words “senility” or “dementia” never crossed their lips (or their keyboards, as it were) except to mock those who would dare to bring them up.

As a result, for the last three-and-a-half years, the United States has been ostensibly “governed” by a chief executive who is, to put it bluntly, unfit for the job. Worse still, they’ve all been aware of this—everyone in the media and everyone in high-level Democratic politics. They’ve known it all along, but they played dumb because they believed that doing otherwise would help Trump. They hated Trump so much that they didn’t care. They were unbothered by what they had to do to make Biden seem fit and vigorous because they believed they were doing so in advance of the “greater good,” which, naturally, meant that Trump had to be defeated permanently.

As Krauthammer warned, however, all of this was profoundly self-destructive. Because they were able to get away with it in the early stages of the impromptu coverup, they persisted. What choice did they have, after all, if they were to defeat the incipient dictator they believed Trump to be? How could they not sacrifice everything—including their personal and professional integrity—to fight against the “real” enemy? More to the point, why would they stop, given how remarkably easy it turned out to be to fool some of the people all of the time?

What they never anticipated was that their abilities to hide Biden’s lack thereof would prove less potent than they expected. They never thought they would get caught, in other words. And now that they have, they are lost. They don’t know what to do. Their hatred burns as passionately as ever. Their derangement is more potent than ever. Yet they can no longer play the same cynical game they played for so long. Reality has finally caught them.

Like Aesop’s wolf, they deluded themselves spectacularly and now must pay the price. Unlike the wolf, however, they are not especially liable to learn their lesson:

A Wolf, who was roaming about on the plain when the sun was getting low in the sky, was much impressed by the size of his shadow, and said to himself, “I had no idea I was so big. Fancy my being afraid of a lion! Why, I, not he, ought to be King of the beasts”; and, heedless of danger, he strutted about as if there could be no doubt at all about it. Just then a lion sprang upon him and began to devour him. “Alas,” he cried, “had I not lost sight of the facts, I shouldn’t have been ruined by my fancies.”

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About Stephen Soukup

Stephen R. Soukup is the Director of The Political Forum Institute and the author of The Dictatorship of Woke Capital (Encounter, 2021, 2023)

Photo: TOPSHOT - US President Joe Biden looks down as he participates in the first presidential debate of the 2024 elections with former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at CNN's studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 27, 2024. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. A few months ago, I did not think it remotely possible Trump could win (the reasons have mostly to do with Democrat election chicanery). However, since the debate and its aftermath, I have become cautiously optimistic that Trump can prevail. Although that does not preclude election skullduggery by the Democrats, its just that this time it won’t be enough, or it will be too obvious to be effective.

    But regrettably, for the Enemedia and official Washington who participated in the ruse of Biden’s fitness for office, I’m afraid there will be little if any consequences. And should Trump win, he will have more pressing issues than pursuing a vendetta against those who cosplayed their version of a “Weekend at Bernie’s”.

  2. One thing this excellent article only lightly addresses is that the legacy media may have committed suicide over Joey’s presidency. While I try to never underestimate the capacity for self-delusion of those faced with unpleasant reality, I hope that one of the outcomes of the last 4 years of lies, gaslighting, etc. is that legacy media’s back has been permanently broken. Considering the fallout from the debate debacle and the attempts to spin it by the fourth estate among independent voters and the undecided ( a category of voters that I am skeptical actually exist in this election cycle) makes me think the stalwarts of journalism may never recover. To which I reply with resounding enthusiasm, “Good!!”

  3. Not entirely sure about how “too obvious to be effective” becomes ineffective. It was all pretty obvious last go-round. AFAIK, the same not-seeing “guardians” are still overseeing the counting where the bulk of the votes are located.

  4. If the world was a sane place, you’d be on to something.

  5. Yeah, but I can dream. Of course, it all depends on supposed adults acting like adults & doing the hard work of thinking for themselves, something the “public” seems to struggle with more each passing year.

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