On Biden’s Lying

In my most recent New York Post column, I note that while nearly all politicians stretch the truth and often tell outright falsehoods, Joe Biden abuses the privilege to such an extreme that it would seem to indicate something deeply wrong with him. But I go on to suggest that what he really represents is not so much a psychological problem as much as the apotheosis of leftist philosophy in toto. Key paragraphs:

Democrats don’t have a monopoly on mythical stories. Ronald Reagan often drew criticism for telling stories that didn’t hold up under scrutiny. But there’s a telling difference in the kind of tall tales Reagan told and the kind liberals tell. Reagan’s embellished and mythical stories (with one ambiguous and contested exception) were never about himself but always about America and the greatness of the American character. And remember the motto on his desk: “There’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

By contrast, Biden boasts: “Bidenomics is just another way of saying restoring the American dream.” [Keep in mind that “Reaganomics” was originally invented as a pejorative by Reagan’s critics, and he only later remarked, when the economy started booming, “I notice they don’t call it ‘Reaganomics’ any more.”] The false stories of liberal politicians are usually about themselves and how great are their thoughts and deeds and experiences.

So it is worth noting that Franklin Foer, author of the recent book on Biden’s first two years in office, notes this same distinction, without however connecting it to leftist philosophy. Foer was interviewed for The Free Press by Michael Moynihan, and here’s the relevant part with my emphasis added:

MM: The other day, Biden said he was at Ground Zero the day after the September 11 attacks. He wasn’t. He said that he was a professor, I think, at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching political theory for four years. He wasn’t. Said something similar about his grandfather dying in the hospital the same day. He falsely claimed to have been arrested during a civil rights protest. He falsely claimed that he, quote, “used to drive an 18-wheeler,” falsely claimed to have visited the Pittsburgh synagogue where worshipers were killed in a 2018 mass shooting, falsely claimed to have visited Iraq and Afghanistan as president, told a false story involving a late relative and a Purple Heart, and falsely described his interactions decades ago with late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. He frequently refers to his son, Beau Biden, who died of cancer, dying in Iraq. At what point is that lying and not a gaffe?

FF: It’s clearly a tendency that is deeply ingrained in him that these are not straight examples. They’re part of a pattern of the way that he describes himself and his role in events in history. And there is something both disturbing about it on some level and, I think, very reflective of something deep in his psyche, that this desire to be at the center of the narrative and to have a version of events that kind of meshes with some idealized version of those events.

MM: But you’re reluctant to call it lying.

FF: On the surface, yes, it is. It is lying. But there are different reasons why people lie. And I think that needs to somehow be wrapped into the way in which we morally judge them. The pattern of lies are really always about himself, not about other people. And they’re self-aggrandizing. And so it’s this tendency towards self-aggrandizement, which is super connected to the way that he exists as a politician and super connected to all of these insecurities that he has.

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