This column has a strophe and an antistrophe. The strophe is the old story of the purloined letter.
In Poe’s tale, the wily detective M. Dupin is charged with finding a compromising letter that was written by the Queen’s lover and stolen from her boudoir by the dastardly minister D—. Where can it be hidden?
It’s not. Or, rather, it is hidden in a letter rack on the minister desk, “full in the view of every visitor.” Indeed, it was so obvious—“hyperobtrusive” is Poe’s word—that it was all but invisible.
It took the cleverness of Dupin to see through the obvious to the reality its very publicity concealed.
How easy it is to overlook the obvious. We look but we do not see. Or, rather, we see but we do not register, and therefore we fail to comprehend.
I suspect that is more or less our situation now, both with respect to the phenomenon of Harris-Biden and with respect to Donald Trump.
The purloined letter was thrust under the noses of anyone who visited the flat of the minister. It was dirty, slightly crumpled, and bore on its wax seal the monogram of the minister. And yet Dupin instantly suspected the truth.
A Disposable Candidate
The truth about the curious mummers play that is the Harris-Biden campaign shouts at us every time Joe Biden addresses us from his basement, dons his mask before parading out of doors, or makes up numbers about how long ago he got to the Senate (it’s only 47 seven years, not 180) or how many Americans have died from the CCP virus (it’s not 200 million).
It’s so obvious that you can hardly see it. But once seen, you can’t unsee it.
This is not Joe Biden’s campaign. He is not the candidate. The committee, whose members we do not know, brooded over the Democratic candidates last spring. They knew that Bernie couldn’t win outright. But that didn’t mean his platform, suitably accoutered, couldn’t survive.
It’s everything that Sanders, the Squad, and other far-left elements of the Democratic party have been salivating over for years. An end to fossil fuels. Open borders. Higher taxes. Lower expenditures on the military. Increased regulation. Vastly increased expenditure on social programs, together with the vastly increased governmental apparatus to oversee them. Capitulation to China and Iran. Obamacare on steroids. Yes to the Paris climate accords and many other forms of environmental tyranny. And so on. The whole kit and caboodle.
The great question facing the Committee was who could be the best—by which I mean the most pleasing to the voters—ambassador of this platform. It could not be Bernie Sanders. The stench of his fondness for the Soviet Union was too strong.
They settled on Joe Biden as the most innocuous looking lozenge to deliver this poison.
But it was not at all clear that Joe Biden would have working headlights long enough to inject the toxin.
So the Committee picked Kamala Harris as his running mate. She performed the worst of any of the serious Democratic candidates, is seriously unlikable, and, being from California, brings nothing electorally to the ticket.
But she is both left-wing and pliable. It is clear that a vote for Biden is a vote for President Harris. She recognizes this. Possibly even Joe Biden does. Both have referred to a “Harris administration.”
When Bill Clinton was running for President, he said, “Vote for me, and you get Hillary as well.” It’s two for the price of one.
Biden could say, “Vote for me, and you get Kamala Harris instead.” It’s one for the price of two.
I think most people understand this. Which is one reason that I think that when people enter the privacy of the voting booth (or get ready to lick the envelope of their mail-in ballot) they will not be checking off the name Biden.
It is blindingly obvious, once you first notice it, that Biden’s campaign is a put-up job, with a fabricated candidate set to self-destruct like the secret instructions to Jim Phelps or Ethan Hunt in “Mission Impossible.”
But the other reason I believe that many more ballots will feature the letter “T” than “B” is what has been referred to as the enthusiasm gap. Donald Trump commands at least 99 percent of the enthusiasm in this campaign. His bout with and rapid recovery from the CCP virus only upped the octane on the enthusiasm.
Candace Owens helped him organize a rally at the White House just a few days ago for Black and Hispanic voters who wanted out of the Democratic plantation. Hundreds crowded onto the White House lawn to listen to the President and express their affection for him.
Could Joe Biden do something similar? To ask the question is to answer it.
The Democrats need almost all of the Black and Hispanic vote to win. Donald Trump has been making striking inroads with both groups. Ergo, etc.
Add in a reignited economy, a stock market that has completely recovered from the virus-inspired “degringolade” of the spring, unemployment slashed in half in five months, and a vibrating aura of optimism about leading the country out of the Slough of Covid and you have an unbeatable formula for success.
That’s the strophe.
Too Far Downstream
The antistrophe is not so cheery.
David Stove, the late Australian philosopher, is the author (among much else) of an admonitory little book, posthumously published, called “What’s Wrong with Benevolence: Happiness, Private Property, and the Limits of Enlightenment.” The book is an anatomy of the more facile and beguiling aspects of enlightenment sentimentality.
Stove presents many devastating arguments against the intransigent progressivism that hides behind the mask of cheery Enlightenment slogans.
He also notes the relative impotence of argument in the face of public sentiment intoxicated by the spectacle of its own supposed virtue. All experience tells us that the triumph of progressivism (socialism, communism: call it what you will) is a disaster for freedom and a prescription for widespread immiseration.
But what is experience in the face of the Zeitgeist? Stove ends his book with the story of a solitary American Indian who had been fishing many miles upstream from Niagara Falls in his canoe. “Despite all his local knowledge,” Stove writes:
“He makes some slight misjudgment of time, or wind, or water, and finds himself surprised by the current. For hours he puts forth all his strength in trying to reach the shore, but long before the fatal event itself, he passes a point at which his diminishing strength, and the increasing strength of the current, make further resistance vain. He then ships his paddle, lights his pipe, and folds his arms.”
In the circumstances, Stoves says, “those are the actions of a rational man.”
Stove thinks that “the world-current of Enlightened benevolence is now so strong, and we have been launched upon it for so many years, that we passed the point of no return a long time ago.” He therefore recommends that “we emulate the Indian in the story.”
Is he right? I do not know. Ask me on Nov. 4.
Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Who Rules? Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the 21st Century.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.