Anybody remember the 1980s Isuzu auto TV pitchman “Joe Isuzu”? Wikipedia recalls him as “a pathological liar who made outrageous and overinflated claims about Isuzu’s cars,” which describes a lot of Joe Biden’s boasts about himself. Beyond just Biden, I think the whole Democratic Party has a “Joe Isuzu problem” when it comes to talking sensibly about the urban disorder exploding (literally) all over the country.
Does it seem like Democrats are deaf-mutes when it comes to speaking clearly against the rioting going on right now? It went unmentioned during the Democratic National Convention two weeks ago. But in fact Joe Biden has made statements against the riots, such as this one back in July:
“Anyone who burns or pillages… should be arrested. They are a problem for society and they make a mockery of what the march is all about. They should be tried, arrested and put in jail.”
Today Biden is spinning furiously to catch up with the curve, saying “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting.” He added, “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family story. Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”
The problem is no one really believes Biden and the Democrats are sincere in their criticism of rioters. Because they aren’t. Deep down they can’t square their sympathy for the “root grievances” of protesters and rioters with the political necessity of being credible in fighting against rioting, which would mean Portland and Seattle, for starters, would sweep the streets and not let people go hours later with no bail. (It would also help if Democrats, including some of Kamala Harris’s staff apparently, hadn’t contributed to fund drives to bail out protesters and rioters in the few places where bail is being set.)
Ultimately this connects to the contempt most liberal Democrats have for the country, and have had for a long time. We keep hearing from the left that Trump is “shredding political norms,” but who is it who wants to abolish the Senate and the electoral college, repeal the 2nd Amendment, tinker with the First Amendment to allow censorship of “hate speech,” pack the Supreme Court, and admit DC and Puerto Rico as states just to add four more Democrats to the Senate? And that’s before you ask for any Democrat to make a criticism of the 1619 Project. I’m not aware of a single one yet who has done so. But remember: Trump’s tweets are mean!
This has a long history. People think the “Blame America First Democrats” was an invention of Jeanne Kirkpatrick in 1984, but it goes back much further than that. At the height of the urban rioting in the 1960s, Hubert Humphrey remarked that had he lived in a ghetto he could have led a pretty good riot himself—a remark he later came to regret and tried to walk back. In 1971 Walter Mondale remarked that “The sickening truth is that this country is rapidly coming to resemble South Africa.” Shirley MacLaine said in 1972 that “Right now the social soul of America is so sick that even the overthrow of a political regime may be insufficient.” I can go on with pages of statements like this from Democratic politicians, leading journalists, and, naturally, academics.
In other words, what we’re seeing today is the essential DNA of the modern Democratic Party coming to the fore amidst a crisis, and a lot of voters can perceive this clearly, which is why the polls are tightening.
In fact, even Hollywood gets this. Just recall this 20-second scene from an early episode of The Simpsons, which appeared back when George H.W. Bush was president:
Come to think of it, Sideshow Bob would make a good running mate for Joe Isuzu.