Ethics Hero: Joe Biden

I’m being generous; the original headline was “Joe Biden Makes Sense!” which I decided was too arch.

I stopped watching the Sunday talking head shows once all of them defaulted to “resistance” narrative-pushing-all-the-time, but every now and then I drop in for a few minutes of nausea. Today I caught “Meet the Press,” once my favorite of all such shows (when Tim Russert was practicing real journalism there), but now, with the embarrassingly dim Chuck Todd at the helm, a rotting symbol of how far the professional has fallen in ethics and quality, I avoid the program like an Alec Baldwin movie.

Joe Biden was being interviewed (I have excised here a good, fair but tasteless joke about what Todd interviewing Biden resembles) and Todd asked this despicable question:

“Do you think there’s already blood on the President’s hands considering the slow response?”

Hack. Asshole. Todd breached one ethics rule by stating as fact what has not been shown to be true and cannot be shown, that the President’s “response” was “slow.” Todd’s colleagues called Trump’s response of shutting down travel to China racist and precipitous. There is not a single death due to the Wuhan virus that can be attributed to the President; China, perhaps, but not President Trump. It’s hard to imagine a more inflammatory and unjustified, not to mention irresponsible, question.

Yet although it represented an open invitation to Joe Biden to let loose with his  most slanderous attack on the President yet, he demurred, saying, “I think that’s a little too harsh.”

One might wish that he had delivered a ringing denunciation of Todd’s rhetoric, but he was being fed softballs by a loyal political ally; it would be unreasonable to expect Biden bite the hand that feeds him by giving Todd the public rebuke he deserves. The fact that Joe had the integrity to reject Todd’s obscene characterization, even using two weasel words (“think” and “little”) shows that he has limits to the unethical assistance he will accept.

Biden followed up his mild slap-down with a substantially reasonable critique of the President:

“He should stop thinking out loud and start thinking deeply. He should start listening to the scientists before he speaks. He should listen to the health experts. He should listen to his economists.”

I can’t fault much of that. Trump does think out loud too much, and that habit has been especially troublesome in this crisis. He’s not going to stop, obviously, but Joe’s not wrong. Asking Trump to “think deeply” (or Joe Biden, for that matter) is ludicrous, but it sounds nice. Do we have a political figure who thinks deeply?

Joe’s addiction lately to promoting scientific expertise in broad term is annoying, and really just blind appeals to authority: in the Wuhan pandemic, the advice and predictions of scientists have been all over the place, and often proven wrong quickly. Listen to economists? Which economists? When the economists say, “Screw all the old, sick people, let’s get the economy moving again or we’re all doomed,” and the scientists say, “We don’t know enough about this virus: keep the nation locked down until at least July,” what do you do then, Joe?

Never mind, though. At least Biden refused to cross an ugly and unconscionable line of hyper-partisanship when handed an opportunity to do so.

As for, Todd, NBC should suspend him for that question, for its own sake. The majority of the public already disapproves of the media’s reporting on the pandemic , as it should, and journalism’s level of trust among Americans has never been as low as it is now. Yet partisan hacks like Todd seem determined to drive it lower still. Every slice of credibility and trust the mainstream media loses with such displays as this diminishes the power of reporters and pundits to influence our elections with their agenda-driven lies, omissions, spin, distortions, false framing and fake news.

14 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Joe Biden

  1. Yes. Let’s give our former Vice President some credit for not taking the bait offered by that reprobate, Chuck Todd.

    The wincing that must have erupted off-camera by Biden’s handlers must have been nearly audible on the set. Let’s hope Biden’s natural patriotic reflexes, instincts, and reticence to engage in this type of thing continues.

    • Agreed. I’ve watched “Meet the Press” a couple of times in a cafe after church services, and Chuck Todd is just awful. We love the cafe, but it got to where I would sit as far from the TV as possible, with my back to it.

      Imagine if someone had suggested that of President Obama back when H1N1 was running rampant…

  2. “Do we have a political figure who thinks deeply?”
    No, no we absolutely do not. If we did, there would be no shortage of masks and other medical necessities. FEMA AND CDC has an epic fail on their hands. Perhaps “deep thinkers” isn’t the right word. Forward thinkers? Planners? It’s not that hard to realize this was going to happen at some point. I mean there’s a list, thousands of scenarios written and popular “zombie apolocapyse” based on the premise. The plan was laid out for everyone to follow. You don’t have to think deep to know we would be in a situation with a contagious virus and should be ready for it, bare minimum have extra protective gear for the medical establishment. Instead we have a titanic without enough life boats… again.

    • JM, you raise a SUPERB point.

      In the past few days, I’ve read no small number of media items and social media posts blaming the Trump administration for the shortage of ventilators and PPE (as if someone can snap their fingers and make those things appear out of thin air). I’ve read a smaller, but arguably more reasonable, number of items pointing out that the nation’s reserve of these things was drawn down during the Obama administration and not replaced.

      Both, IMO, miss the point. We have a large and intentionally slow-moving legislature at the Federal level. We have relatively large – and also slow-moving – legislatures at the state level.

      The idea of pointing fingers at the executive branch, in this situation, seems misplaced. After all, executive branches are ultimately controlled by one individual per entity. Part of the idea of the legislative process under a federal system was that the collective wisdom could address challenges, present and presumed.

      Why isn’t anyone blaming the House or Senate for not advancing legislation regarding pandemic preparedness? Why is no one blaming the legislature of New York for not having the foresight to prepare for a small but very real possible event?

      • Who is to blame in what country? Never can get to the one. Dealin’ in multiplication, and they still can’t feed everyone.

        – “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant.

      • Arthur

        You seem to be one of the few that see the forest and not just the trees.

        JM’s premise that inadequate planning took place prior to this pandemic is the second in as many days.

        I’m all for strategic planning but the idea that we can condemn those for some shortfall in planning fails to accept the idea that any shortfall of supply will be treated as inadequate.

        Further, we have come to believe that Governors and the legislatures of states have no responsibility for allocating resources toward emergency preparedness. Why did Cuomo or any other governor shirk their duty to ensure their health agencies had sufficient supplies for such a pandemic?

        Our national debt has grown in some measure with the belief by state governors that the federal government is the sugar daddy who will rescue them when calamaties occur because most, if not all, states have to balance their budgets annually. This belief allows them to squander scarce resources on patronage projects instead of preparing local emergency response teams with all the items needed in emergencies.

        Yes, there is a federal role in emergency response but we governors and state legislatures have abdicated their responsibility in ensuring that adequate stocks of personal protective gear is readily available in emergencies. If they argue that they cannot possibly be able to prepare for a contingency such as a pandemic why should we hold the feds responsible for meeting all the various needs of all 50 states?

  3. Chuck Todd is the moron who asked if Mensheviks were Bolsheviks who spoke Yiddish. No, you incompetent bozo, a ten-second Wikipedia search would have told you otherwise. This is signature significance for a guy not as smart as he thinks he is who thinks that making a clever-sounding comment that he hopes will go viral is more important than actually knowing what he is talking about. Of course he tried to bait Biden into a potential viral moment with a comment more like something hate-spewer Dan Savage would say somewhere between f-bombs. Biden was apparently with it enough to see how badly that could backfire. Todd won’t be suspended, he’ll probably be praised for his “hard-hitting questions” and “willingness to speak truth to power.”

    As for deep thinking, who are we kidding? Adlai Stevenson lost precisely because he was thought of as an egghead college professor type. Nancy Pelosi and Hillary brushed off reporters’ questions with quips, and not very funny or clever ones either. George W. Bush stumbled over words and was pilloried for it. Bill Clinton told a brazen falsehood on national tv and lied under oath. And the squad? Their thinking is shallower than a puddle on a slightly uneven sidewalk.

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