I may be one of the few people in the world who actually watches Joseph Robinette Biden on TV, and I don’t do it very often. But whenever I do, what I see, standing right beside him, is the thin gray figure of Mr. Thompson, the Head of the State in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
Thompson was probably modeled on Harry Truman, whom Rand must have seen as a cross-section of the American population, the part of the population that she disliked. But that’s clearly what Biden is. He’s the guy who’s always hanging out in the bar down the street, the guy that everyone tries not to talk to, because right away he’ll be boring you with long stories about the supposedly interesting things that he never did, and picking fights with you if you seem to question the virtues of his deadbeat son and his snotty, stupid wife. He’s as common as dirt, as common as Mr. Thompson in Ayn Rand’s novel.
Mr. Thompson, the Head of the State, was a man who possessed the quality of never being noticed. In any group of three, his person became indistinguishable, and when seen alone it seemed to evoke a group of its own, composed of the countless persons he resembled.
Where are the brilliant geniuses who are striking in protest? Where are the great scientists, engineers, bankers, and academicians who, by reason of their brainpower, know what has gone wrong and how they are going to fix it?
Biden’s friends are all in the novel, too — the crony capitalists; the puritan preachers of statism, constantly outraged at other people’s sins; the heads of government agencies who got there precisely because they had no idea how anything works. Together, they have engineered an Atlas Shrugged situation, in which the state, acting by emergency decrees, has managed to cripple the economy, throwing millions out of work and interrupting the cycle of production and exchange until, part by part, the machine is seizing up. Strange how actions have consequences. These people’s solution, as in Atlas Shrugged, is a demand for “more powers.”
But there is one thing missing from this analogy. Where are the brilliant geniuses who are striking in protest? Where are the great scientists, engineers, bankers, and academicians who, by reason of their brainpower, know what has gone wrong and how they are going to fix it?
I don’t see them — do you? And it’s not because they’re on strike. No, not at all. It’s because they’re busy competing for government grants, scheming to find new ways of tracking dissent, using their intellectual positions to stifle whatever dissent they find, and snatching as many billions as they can from the gravy train before it crashes at the next broken switch.
Sorry. I don’t have much good to say.