Victor Davis Hanson: Joe Biden, Alchemist?

Medieval alchemists sought to turn base metals into precious metals like gold. The more the alchemists bumped into the reality that gold was an element, the more desperately they sought to find fantastic ways to fabricate the rare element out of nothing.

Joe Biden operates on the same alchemist principles. He tries to turn his record of dross into golden successes. The more he fails, the more zealously he embraces his next new fantasy. Meanwhile,  the midterm election reckoning approaches. He is a delusional medievalist who does his best to turn golden policies into dross. 

Printing money, talking up low interest rates, disincentivizing work, subsidizing inactivity, and being unprepared that a pent-up, locked down, constipated economy of the past two years would eventually break out—all that resulted in January’s 7.5 percent annualized inflation rate. Unlike Joe Biden, even a child knows that too much demand and liquidity and too few available goods and services cause prices to rise. The rate of inflation is increasing at an annualized rate not seen in 40 years. And the jump already follows a prior 2021 annual rate of 6.8 percent. The prices of gas, food, and houses—the stuff of life—are collectively rising far higher than just 7.5 percent. 

At first, the Biden Administration attempted to turn this inflationary dross into gold. Price hikes, we were assured, were all just the worries of an elite. 

Second, inflation was merely “temporary” and “transitory,” as the rebooted system got rid of its glitches. 

Third, higher costs were good because they meant higher wages for workers (their real wages have been declining at a rate of one to two percent on an annualized basis). 

Fourth, inflation was an indicator of a “robust” Biden economy.  

Fifth, why not blame the prior “Trump economy” for the disaster of “modern monetary theory?”

Sixth, inflation was unavoidable, given the shortage of computer chips, of tankers, of whatever. . . fill in the blank. 

Biden is hunting for the same magic excuses to fabricate a golden spin on crime. After demagoguing the police, contextualizing the 2020 riots, and supporting openly or quietly the Soros district attorney revolution, crime has exploded. Carjackings, smash-and-grab robberies, and violent assaults come to American screens each morning on social media and the news despite the denials of the Biden filters. 

Rather than address the crime wave, the FBI prefers to harass after parents at school board meetings, to fixate on mythical “white supremacist” conspiracies, or to retrieve lost property of the wayward Biden offspring. 

Murder is at all-time highs in 12 major cities. And the response of the alchemist? 

One, crime is not that bad if we lump together white-collar nonviolent crime with violent crime. Then, presto, “crime” rates are stable (as if your accountant who gets caught taking too many improper deductions is likely to carjack your Honda or take a sledgehammer to the local jeweler’s display cases).  

Two, “COVID-19” caused lawlessness—not the end of law-enforcement deterrence. 

Third, Biden and his administration were only sorta, kinda, maybe, perhaps once upon a time supportive of defunding the police, but of course, certainly, surely never active promoters.  

Turn to the Afghanistan disaster, the worst humiliation of the U.S. military since the 1975 flight from Saigon. We were first told the “generals did it.” That is, Joe Biden was never properly apprised of the dangers of his scram. Once Biden’s polls dipped below 40 percent, the top brass mysteriously began coming out of the woodwork and blaming Biden—as if to say “We are not taking the rap for a now failed president.” 

Then we learned that the logistics of the scamper were actually brilliant—so much so that no other country could ever approximate such a well-prepped getaway. It was as if the United States now leads the world’s militaries in the art of flight. 

Next we learned that all the pertinent U.S. and loyalist Afghan personnel were safely evacuated—except they were not. Apparently, that lie was predicated on the assumption the end was so humiliating that no American would wish to revisit August 2021, or to even again hear the word “Afghanistan.”

Finally, we were assured—no surprise—that Biden was just continuing the Trump planned escape. 

In the end, the truth emerged. Biden had demanded a big 20th anniversary remembrance of 9/11 by giving a “big” speech that he alone had ended the Afghan war. And so, he had to get everybody home in time for his historic self-congratulatory triumph

Perhaps the greatest Biden catastrophe was turning an energy independent, oil and gas exporting nation into a dependent importer again. Worse, Biden even begged the once roundly trashed Saudis and the supposedly demonic Vladimir Putin to please pump more oil. 

To explain doubling gas prices, we were told initially, of course, that “COVID-19 did it.”  Or we were lectured that canceling pipelines, yanking new federal oil and gas leases, making Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off limits to energy exploration, jawboning banks to restrict loans to energy companies, and scolding frackers were all part of a new “balanced” plan to “address climate change” (e.g., the repackaging of Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s ossified plan of getting the cost of gasoline up to proper “European levels.”) 

Then the alchemists tried new formulas of blaming oil companies and corporations (most of whose CEOS are woke) for “price gouging.” 

Next we learned that the satanic OPEC was up to its old anti-American tricks, as if it had not been previously neutered for a time with the gush of U.S. gas and oil on the market between 2017 and early 2021. 

Competing with this failure was the Biden failure at the border. Distilling this mess was even trickier, because most of Biden’s supporters believe that he successfully turned a secure border into a golden open one. So again, Biden was the proverbial alchemist who insisted that his own pig iron policies actually created a 24-karat border, albeit unperceivable to ordinary Americans. 

Most Americans polled expressed their horror at the idea of nearly 2 million pouring across the border—illegally, without means of support, unvaccinated and untested in a time of pandemic, without English or skills, cutting ahead of patiently waiting legal applicants, unvetted with no idea how many had criminal records. All that required more of Biden’s alchemy to turn that dross into glitter. 

As a result, we were told that apprehensions for a time were up (e.g., if you let in millions and detain only a small fraction, that tiny number can still exceed the sum of detentions during times of a secure border with almost no illegal crossings.) 

Then we were told it was the fault of Mexico and Central America—as if for the first time in history they dared to export human capital to rein in $60 billion in annual remittances. 

Next we were assured there was no problem, given Kamala Harris was our “border czar.” And when criticized after she confessed that she had not been to the border, she scoffed that she had never been to Europe either. So, no big deal. And now in her inaugural visit to Europe, Harris is advising our NATO allies how best to sync European and American efforts to deter Putin. 

Then we were told that our border patrollers mercilessly whip the innocent from their stallions, the logical dividend of trying to patrol the ossified notion of a border in the first place. Except that turned out to be untrue as the “whips,” we later discovered, were just reins. 

Finally, there was the COVID-19 challenge. Remember the context. After attempting for political purposes during the 2020 campaign to question the efficacy and safety of the Trump Operation Warp Speed vaccinations, Biden and Harris upon inauguration claimed them as their own. 

They continued their earlier misinformation that the former president was responsible for 100 percent of COVID deaths during his presidency. And they did so because they were assured that the now plagiarized vaccination programs (Biden and Harris were both vaccinated shortly after being elected) would simply end the pandemic. Biden being Biden, he then foolishly boasted that he would not so much end the lockdowns, as end the virus itself. 

Then Delta and Omicron hit. They synced with record unpopularity for a president’s first year and previewed a Democratic wipeout in the 2022 midterms. 

In reaction, Biden then swore that Trump had left him no vaccinations at all when Biden took office! It was also Trump who had ruined Biden’s attempts to get cheap and available tests out. It was the bogeyman Trump who further hampered the appearance of safe and inexpensive therapeutics to treat the disease. Trump was urging Americans to drink bleach we were told! 

To no avail. On Biden’s watch, Omicron infected the thrice-vaxxed.  Its infectiousness hit even the masked and locked down.  Those with naturally acquired immunity had as good, if not better, immunity than the vaxxed.  In other words, much of the Fauci “follow the science” orthodoxy was revealed as irrelevant if not simply anti-science. 

With the midterms on the horizon, and millions of American asking why their children were still unschooled, why those outdoors were still wearing masks, why public officials  who railed the most about the need for masks were caught unmasked, and why the federal government was still firing soldiers and federal workers with naturally acquired immunity, Biden began to furiously alchemize again. 

Now his party abruptly announces, “We will live with COVID rather than live-in fear of it.” Masks are now becoming passé. Lockdowns, if not already ignored, are easing.  Biden is announcing victory. Joe beat the now-waning Omicron.  No matter that more have died during his tenure than Trump’s, both collectively and per diem. No matter that on key matters of testing and therapeutics, he did little to nothing.  No matter that Biden tore the country apart by demonizing the unvaccinated as yokel Trump supporters, all but deserving whatever they got from COVID. 

No matter that Omicron’s infectiousness naturally wanes not due to Joe Biden, but because it has already infected tens of millions, and been blunted or rendered less lethal by tens of millions more with natural or acquired immunity. 

Just as old Joe, once high on vaccinations, announced that he was soon to beat COVID and we would by over it by July 2021, so too new Joe has announced the end of Omicron—as if this insidiously human-engineered pathogen won’t mutate yet again, and prompt a return of failed containment policies. 

Perhaps “alchemist” is not quite the right word for Joe Biden. After all, he worked not with dross in his attempt to make gold. Rather he started with inherited golden policies on the economy, energy, the border, and foreign affairs and turned them into dross. 

Is Biden then really the “anti-Alchemist,” a delusional medievalist who does his best to turn gold into base metals? ✪

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