Isn’t normality great? That’s been Joe Biden’s selling point from the beginning, ‘normality’. Back in March 2020, the former conservative Bill Kristol announced that Biden represented the ‘simple’ choice for the ‘normal American’. Biden wasn’t Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders — but especially, just between us, he wasn’t Donald Trump — ergo, etc.
Achilles was the ‘swift-footed’. Ronald Reagan was ‘the Great Communicator’. Joe Biden is — what? People talk about ‘gaffes’, but that is unfair. A ‘gaffe’ is a clumsy social error, a faux pas. Emitting gibberish when you can’t remember the most famous line of the Declaration of Independence is not the same thing as committing a gaffe.
Nor, if you happen to be the President of the United States, is issuing a veiled threat to unleash F-15s and nuclear weapons upon American citizens who happen to disagree with you.
That’s exactly what Joe Biden did on Wednesday at a press conference devoted to his administration’s ‘whole-of-government approach’ to formulating ‘a comprehensive strategy to combat violent crime and gun violence’.
In an extraordinary off-script observation, Mr Normality attempted to deliver a brief lecture about the Second Amendment. From the very beginning, he said, the Second Amendment limited what ‘types of people’ and what types of weapons were covered by the people’s ‘right to bear arms’.
I guess Joe Biden has a special edition of the Constitution. In my edition, the Second Amendment reads ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’
I don’t see anything there about the ‘types of people’ that are covered by the Amendment, do you? Maybe the Framers, in their wisdom, meant to exclude those future people who would disagree with Democrats. It’s a point for constitutional scholars to investigate.
Mr Normality went on to garble Jefferson’s contention that ‘the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants’. But the pièce de résistance was his claim that, if you want to take on the US government, you are going to need ‘F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons’.
A couple of points.
First, a point about the purpose of the Constitution in general and the Second Amendment in particular. In addition to its six announced purposes (‘to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity’), the Constitution is a document designed to protect the sovereign (‘We the people’) against the coercive power of the state, aka ‘the government’. The Second Amendment was a prudential or practical ‘auxiliary precaution’. The Framers of the Constitutional were innocent of the enormities of modern totalitarian regimes, but by the late 18th century history was already littered with examples of tyrants disarming a people as a prelude to oppressing them.
Second, if the sovereign (‘We the people’) wants to move against the government of the United States, it doesn’t need F-15s and nuclear weapons. It needs legitimate, i.e., free and fair, elections. It was because of serious doubts regarding the 2020 presidential election that hundreds of citizens, and not a few rabble rousers and FBI instigators, marched on the Capitol on January 6. The subtext of Mr Normality’s comment about limiting access to guns and intimidating the populace was the free-for-all at the Capitol. But remember, no guns were fired by the so-called ‘domestic terrorists’ during that so-called ‘insurrection’: that’s ‘no guns’ as in ‘zero guns’, none, nada, rien. One person, alas, was shot and killed. That was Ashli Babbitt, the unarmed Trump supporter who was about the climb through a window when she was shot and killed by an unnamed Capitol Police officer.
‘Unnamed’, but not unknown. The Capitol Police know who murdered Ashli Babbitt, but they refuse to identify him. Question: what if Babbitt had been a drug-addled black man (or woman) who was resisting arrest? Do you believe that the name and image of the person who shot him would still be under wraps? To ask the question is to answer it.
The internet and airwaves are on fire today with commentary about the President’s comments about F-15s and nuclear weapons. I am not sure, however, that most of the pundits grasp the essential point. It’s not only that Joe Biden implicitly threatened to use the US military against American citizens. I believe that he had that contingency somewhere in the back of his, er, mind. But the real issue was his assumption that the ultimate locus of power in the United States is in the government. It is not. The ultimate locus of power is in the people. This is a difficult reality for timeserving denizens of the Deep State to wrap their minds around.
Let me end with Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese admiral and mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto had spent time studying at Harvard and he understood something essential about the United States, something the other Japanese war planners ignored. Yamamoto was chary about the Pearl Harbor attack, not because he doubted it could succeed but because he feared what it would unleash. The United States could never be successfully invaded, Yamamoto is said to have remarked, because behind ever blade of grass is a gun.
Some dispute that Yamamoto said that. I don’t know the truth of the matter. But the observation grasps something crucial that has passed by Joe Biden entirely. Bill Kristol got it exactly wrong. Joe Biden caters not the ‘the normal American’ but to the normal swamp-dwelling member of the nomenklatura. The two are not the same, but I would not expect either Joe Biden or Bill Kristol to understand that.
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