Gavin Biden/Joe Newsom

On his recent trip to China, California Gov. Gavin Newsom got into a pick-up basketball game and knocked over a Chinese student about half his size. In his own frequent falls, Joe Biden has yet to take down a bystander, but the two men have more in common than people might think.  Consider, for example, their troubles with reading and writing.

“For years, Newsom has been very open about the fact that he suffers from dyslexia,” Edsource reported in 2018. Newsom “overcompensated and learned to develop other skills,” including a highly developed ability to memorize texts. Newsom considers these skills to be assets in his political career, but the people have to wonder.

The California governor, who holds a degree in political science, shows no evidence of reading or memorizing any of the great books from authors such as Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, F.A. Hayek and such.  Closer to home, the governor shows no familiarity with Basic Economics, Affirmative Action Around the World, or Intellectuals and Race, by Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution at Stanford.

Most books are now available in audio form, so access is no problem. The governor’s own book, the 2014 Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government, was written “with Lisa Dickey,” also a ghostwriter for Jill Biden and Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

In a saying attributed to Mark Twain, a person who does not read good books has no advantage over a person who cannot read. As Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down) noted in 2010, Joe Biden “makes few references to books and learned influences.” The “indifferent student” who exaggerates his scholastic record also “borrowed liberally, and without attribution,” from British politician Neil Kinnock. Biden and Newsom are both semi-literate and willfully ignorant, but there’s more to it.

As a child, Biden struggled with a stutter and Newsom had similar issues. In addition to his dyslexia, Newsom spoke with a severe lisp. He overcame it through speech therapy but still sounds hoarse. When angry, as Katy Grimes of the California Globe noted, the governor lapses into “a gravelly pirate voice,” and in one interview of less than six minutes Newsom pounded the table a full 59 times.

In similar style, Biden responded to an honest question by telling a worker, “you’re full of shit,” and when a reporter asked about inflation, Biden branded him a “stupid son of a bitch.” Both men have a temper and dislike fielding tough questions. Consider also their relations with China.

As The Atlantic explained in early 2012, vice president Biden “got China” through the efforts of Tom Donilon, once described by James Mann in Foreign Policy as “Obama’s Gray Man” and seldom mentioned in the press. A veteran of the Carter White House, Donilon campaigned for Walter Mondale and first advised Biden in 1988. During the Clinton Era, Donilon was chief of staff for secretary of state Warren Christopher.

In 2010, the composite character president tapped Donilon for National Security Advisor, which troubled even Robert Scheer of The Nation. In Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of State at War, Robert Gates accurately predicted that Donilon would be a “disaster” in the post.

In a June, 2013, speech to the Asia Society, Donilon said, “I disagree with the premise put forward by some historians and theorists that a rising power and an established power are somehow destined for conflict.” No clarification that the “rising power” is a Communist dictatorship, one of the most murderous regimes in history, and the “established power” a constitutional democracy.

As Donilon saw it, “a deeper U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue is central to addressing many of the sources of insecurity and potential competition between us.”  (emphasis added) In similar style, Joe Biden said in 2019 that the Chinese are “not bad folks, but guess what? They’re not competition for us.” The Delaware Democrat even lets China fly a spy balloon over most of the country, including sensitive military bases.

Gov. Newsom’s guide on China was Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the American politician most faithful to the People’s Republic of China, with a Chinese spy on her staff for 20 years. If China ever did anything with which Feinstein disagreed it’s hard to know what it might be.

“California’s partnership with Shanghai spans decades,” Newsom said on his recent trip, “back to 1980 when the late, great Senator Dianne Feinstein, then San Francisco’s mayor, forged the San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City relationship — the first such relationship between cities in China and the United States.” On every trip, Gov. Newsom said, “I am struck by the progress and transformation I see.” So with China, divorce is not an option. I do not want to see this relationship deteriorate.” Neither does Joe Biden, but there are differences beyond the 80-56 age gap.

 Golden boy Gavin has that Getty-bucks stank wafting strong, and no need for Hunter Biden-style capers for the “Big Guy.” That ongoing scandal is no issue for Gov. Newsom, a staunch Biden fan.

“I don’t think there’s been two years of more effective policy-making of a modern American president,” Gov. Newsom said last year. It’s been a masterclass the last two years, not necessarily in effective communication and generating narrative, but in terms of the substance under the circumstance, with all the headwinds, the obfuscation and opposition. I think it’s been remarkable.”

As Olson Johnson said in Blazing Saddles after Gabby Johnson’s speech, “Now who can argue with that?” By now it’s pretty clear what a Newsom administration would look like. As Trump says, we’ll have to see what happens.

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