Despite the theories of many thinking conservatives, Joe Biden is not insane, despite meeting with some liberal historians early in his presidency, when the only thing to record was his arrogance.
It’s an easy thing to think he is mentally unbalanced or as least senile and a fair number of conservatives have made that mistake. After all, practically since day one, Biden has embarked on a spree of executive orders to make the far-left’s dreams a reality, despite running as the token moderate.
Some of these, like halting funding for the construction of a border wall, are simply to reverse Donald Trump’s policies and spite conservative hardliners. Others, like his recent order to create a commission to “study” expanding the Supreme Court, are designed to shore up his progressive support and throw meat to the base. Still others, like Homeland Security’s recent decision to cancel fines for illegals in the country, aren’t executive orders but nonetheless reflect Biden’s single-minded pandering to progressives. His proposal to increase taxes on the successful is nothing more than class envy and a desire to punish the successful for being successful. After all, we must all be mediocre socialists except of course those protected liberal species like AOC, who only went for a brief dip in the gene pool.
So perhaps conservatives who for decades watched Biden behave as a moderate in the Senate and later as a presidential candidate can be forgiven for thinking he’s suddenly lost his mind. Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple problem with a simple diagnosis. The real answer to the riddle lies in what every president has in common and what they want the most, namely, a great legacy.
But Biden is not another FDR or Ronald Reagan. He is closer to Jimmy Carter: feckless yet dangerous.
Biden has been in politics for nearly half a century, and during those roughly 50 years he’s walked or limped for president three times. After finally succeeding on his third try, using a walker some thought, and then only after a brutal campaign both in the primaries and against Trump, Biden wants to ensure in his own mind that the race to the White House was worth the pain. Like every president before him, he wants to make an impression, especially during the crucial first 100 days.
Considering Biden spent so many years of his adult life trying to become president, it’s no wonder he’s putting the pedal to the proverbial metal.
When it comes to Biden however, there’s another layer to this need to perform post-election, and that more than anything is why he suddenly wants to pass the most liberal agenda in recent memory. This deeper layer is two-fold.
On the one hand, Biden has to feel especially obligated to usher through anything that may give him good headlines in the wake of the hurricane that was Donald Trump.
Biden supposedly beat Trump, however narrowly, because people wanted a break from the constant controversies that in turn produced brutal headlines on a daily basis from the biased media. This was magnified to a new level last year with the double whammy of COVID-19 and an entire summer of rioting in our cities.
Given those facts, Biden must be desperate to heal, or at least give the impression of doing so, as quickly as possible through whatever means necessary. Give the progressives and the doting media what they want, so he thinks, and he’ll lay the cornerstone for his legacy.
The other factor at work in this deeper layer of Biden’s legacy building is that Biden knows he only has one term to make all of this happen.
Let’s face it, Joe Biden is not going to serve more than one term as president. Campaigning for two years visibly exhausted him, and it’s apparent every time he appears in public that the poor guy is running on fumes. Biden won’t admit it now for fear of sounding like a lame duck, but I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t announce sometime in 2023 that he won’t seek reelection.
Knowing this, as Biden surely does, it’s clear to me that he’s trying to make every day of this presidency count, because come 2024 it’s all but over. The country will be focused on the presidential race and Biden’s appointed successor, so Biden has from now until then to sign as many bills into law as fast as congressional Democrats can hand them to him.
It doesn’t matter that these proposals - such as hiking capital gains taxes, increasing personal income taxes, court packing, enabling critical race theory, or an infrastructure plan with no infrastructure - are not going to help the country long-term. Oh sure, they’ll make liberals happy and the left-wing media will fawn over Biden because of it, but the average centrist American won’t get much out of the whole business including punishing the successful for simply being successful.
Joe Biden wants a legacy as president. That’s certainly fair, but a legacy delivered no matter the expense is a road to hell that’s paved with all kinds of good intentions.
Craig Shirley is the author of four bestselling books Ronald Reagan's campaigns, including "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980," out March 21, 2017. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, "December 1941," and is the president of Shirley & McVicker Public Affairs.