If there is any one person who has benefited by the Covid-19 Pandemic, it has to be former Vice President Joe Biden. It has provided him with an excuse to stay hunkered down in his basement – avoiding the exposure that routinely results in gaffes and senior moments. He has become a virtual-only cardboard candidate while the real Joe Biden remains a political “bubble boy.”
Even when Biden has left his lair for infrequent public appearances, he does not participate in real campaigning. He is brought to the site like a cardboard cutout voiced with a pre-crafted recording. He does not engage with voters outside a staged setting – and does not take open or impromptu questions from reporters.
Even when he introduced California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate at a staged press event, there were no questions allowed – none for Biden nor Harris.
He also conducts recorded interviews with supportive media personalities which are then edited like a movie – eliminating any controversial or blooper-like statements. In view of the softball questions, one wonders why they even need to be edited.
Biden’s excuse that he is remaining in his bubble because of the virus is wearing thin. President Trump is out and about. It has been determined by the top medical authorities that people can move about in public as long as they follow certain protective protocols.
But Biden is not protecting himself from the virus. He is protecting himself from his own increasingly obvious frailties. When given the choice of appearing in public or taking criticism for hiding from the public, Biden and his handlers seem to have determined that the criticism is less risky to his campaign than actually appearing at events and taking impromptu questions from the press and the public.
Whatever else you may think of President Trump, you cannot deny that he is willing to take questions from the (generally hostile) press on a daily basis – more availability and transparency than any President in American history.
Biden’s virtual campaign is made possible by a cooperative and co-opted press that presents his cardboard appearances as real. They are putting on a version of “The Truman Show” in which we the people are playing Jim Carey’s role as Truman Burbank, a guy who believes he is seeing day-to-day realities only to discover that what he actually sees – and believes is real — is nothing more than a television studio production. We are seeing “The Joe Show.”
And we do not need to resort to fictional allusions to find comparisons. At the time of his fourth and final presidential campaign, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was terminally ill. He was already too sick to carry out the duties of a President, much less serve out another term. Thanks to the cooperation of an inquisitive and compliant news media, FDR was literally propped up for momentary appearances. Like Biden, he was able to … as they say … pull it together for brief public exposures. For most of the campaign, the American people only saw the virtual … the cardboard … President. FDR was dead three months after his last inauguration.
Thanks to modern technology, it is even easier to create virtual realities — like Biden remaining isolated from public examination in his figurative bubble while the cardboard candidate appears in public.
You may have noticed that Biden even looks a lot better recently – and it may not be because of the rest he has gotten in the past couple of months. When he does face a camera, we are seeing the work of a make-up artist. How do I know? Gone are the so-called “liver spots” that freckled his face. And how else did he get that glowing tan in his basement?
I could be wrong, but I do not believe that Biden will hit the campaign trail in any traditional sense at any time between now and November. He was raising concerns about his mental and physical condition before he exiled himself to his basement bunker. There is no reason to believe that he will – or can – perform better in the future in an uncontrolled environment. We can expect Biden to limit his exposure a much as possible – and hope for the best.
So, there ‘tis.