Biden Is A Phony

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Thanks are owed to Vice President Mike Pence for, at the outset of his debate with Senator Kamala Harris, making reference to “plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about.”

The lead front-page New York Times news article about the debate dismissed it as “Biden’s 33-year-old plagiarism scandal.”

The scandal, which led in 1987 to Senator Biden dropping out of the Democratic presidential race, wasn’t so much that Biden had borrowed words or phrases. Politicians do that all the time. It’s that he had falsified his own background to make it seem more blue-collar than it is. That’s a charge that may resonate again in the current campaign.

British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock had talked about his coal miner ancestors. “Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university … Was it because all our predecessors were thick? . . . Those people who could sing and play and recite and write poetry? . . . Those people who could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football?”

Biden had stolen the lines:  “Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? . . . Is it because I’m the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree? That I was smarter than the rest? Those same people who read poetry and wrote poetry and taught me how to sing verse? Is it because they didn’t work hard? My ancestors, who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours?”

The problem was, Biden was not the first in his family to go to college.

Biden also did not have any coal-miner relatives.

Biden made light of the falsehood in a 2004 television appearance: “Hell, I might be president now if it weren’t for the fact I said I had an uncle who was a coal miner. Turns out I didn’t have anybody in the coal mines, y’know what I mean? I tried that crap — it didn’t work!

He was an engineer. … I found out he graduated from Lehigh!”

If Biden once had a sense of humor about his phony populism, he’s lost it now that he’s running for president posing as a Warren-Sanders leftist. The Democratic nominee has been describing the election as “a choice between Scranton and Park Avenue values”— while raising millions from Park Avenue donors. Biden has been faulting President Donald Trump for exclusive country club policies — while belonging to a fancy country club himself and holding a fund raiser at another.

It’s one thing to plagiarize phony populism from a British Labour Party leader. It’s another thing to try to duplicate Trump’s own rare political skill of being a super-rich spokesman for the disaffected working man.

It’s funny, because Biden and his wife Jill Biden earned $1,689,651 in 2018 from American colleges and universities, nearly half a million of it from two Ivy League institutions, Brown and University of Pennsylvania. Now Biden is going around again — in September 2020, falsely describing himself as “the first in my family to go to college,” and making a big deal of his lack of an Ivy League degree. He does have an honorary doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, whose web site still lists him as a professor there.

Harris and her husband own three homes worth nearly $8 million, the Wall Street Journal reported, while Biden “owns roughly $5 million worth of real estate, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis: an estate in Wilmington, Delaware’s ‘château country’ next to a man-made lake built by the du Pont family and a beach house in Rehoboth Beach.”

I don’t begrudge Biden his earnings, his beach house, his Ivy League professorship, or his chateau-country estate. But it’s a bit much for him to go around claiming, as he did Saturday, October 10 in Erie, Pennsylvania, “The president can only see the world from Park Avenue. I see it from Scranton.”

Phony? A “news analysis” in the New York Times helpfully explains that “when used against a person, and especially a woman of color, experts say it has a harmful subtext.”

The Times quotes Tina Tchen, chief executive of Time’s Up, as saying, “A word like ‘phony,’ neutral on its face, when leveled against a woman of color takes on a very culturally loaded meaning.”

The left will call Trump racist and sexist no matter what he says or does. In this case, though, the president can easily protect himself by making clear that the word phony applies not only to Harris but to the man at the top of the Democratic ticket.


Ira Stoll is editor of and author of JFK, Conservative.