Photo Credit: Official WH photo Lawrence Jackson.
U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a conference phone call in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 16, 2021

We saw this coming. One could say “Yeah, but we did not expect it all to blow up this quickly.” But actually we did.

Biden took office with Pelosi and Schumer on January 21, 2021. It is not clear when Harris begins her term as Vice President. Biden now has seven months under his belt. That’s about 15 percent of his presidential term. Only 85 percent left to go. Kandahar times get any worse? Yes, they will.

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This is how democracy works. The theory is the that you vote for the person most qualified, but that is not the requirement. America’s Founding Fathers indeed were terrified that, if democracy were left to the average person — which, after all, is what a “mediocrity” is — then ‘The Mediocrities’ potentially comprising the majority of the electorate would elect incompetents like themselves to run the great national experiment into the ground. That is why the U.S. Constitution was structured with nuances to diminish all-out direct democracy, at least a bit.

So the people were empowered to elect certain local officials and even Congressional representatives — but not exactly United States Senators and Presidents. Rather, We The People — i.e., the Mediocrities, with some among us smarter and a relatively equal amount stupider — would elect more uniformly intelligent, sophisticated people than we to hold the reins of local government. In turn, those presumably more sophisticated minds would cast the ultimate votes for whom their respective states should send to Washington as United States Senators.

For example, in 1858, citizens of the State of Illinois elected 40 Democrats and 35 Republicans to their state House of Representatives, and they sent 14 Democrats and 11 Republicans to their State Senate. As a result, Democrat Stephen Douglas was selected by that Legislature to be United States Senator from Illinois by garnering 54 votes to 46 for Republican Abraham Lincoln — even though the Republican candidates for the state legislature had received nearly 25,000 more votes during the elections than than had the Democrats.

In similar fashion to the buffered voting for Senate, as we all know by now, a protective shield was layered into presidential voting by having states send delegates to an “electoral college” that ultimately would choose the president. So We the Mediocrities — with some among us smarter and a relatively equal amount stupider — would elect the electors.

It all really was a very clever and noble way to keep the totality of democracy out of the hands of the Mob, the Morons, and the Mediocrities. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it failed. Regardless, the protective layers reflected the Founding Fathers’ well-founded fear that lots of voters are stupider than stupid — think in scientific terms: Morons, Imbeciles, and Idiots — and they can mess the whole thing up.

Of course it was a different time.

None of them could have imagined that Congress one day would host actual fools like Ocasio, who could say that a Constitutional Amendment passed years after Franklin Roosevelt’s death was aimed at preventing him from seeking office again. Although Democrats do historically have a constituency among dead voters found in cemetery rolls, they have yet to run an overtly (emphasis on “overtly”) dead candidate for the nation’s highest office.

Nor could the Founding Fathers have anticipated an Ilhan Omar, a Congressional representative more attuned to the cultural preferences and values of Somalian dictatorship than to those of American freedom. But they knew things could get testy.

Not all the United States Senators or House representatives over the years have proven to be saints or geniuses. Even before direct voting for the Senate was allowed, the U.S. had some doozies. One nearly beat another Senator to death with his cane, striking in the (Charles) Sumner of 1856. Several managed to kill each other in duels. For example, California lost its duly elected U.S. Senator David Cobreth Broderick when he was shot to death by Chief Justice David Terry of the California Supreme Court. Talk about a motion to strike! It took Sen. Broderick three days to die, though that duel did not give rise to the aphorism that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

Direct representation still continued a tradition of sending some great senators to Washington and some mediocrities. Indeed, when a Nixon Supreme Court nominee was criticized by Democrats for being mediocre, one Republican U.S. senator rose gallantly to defend the nomination on grounds that mediocre people deserve representation, too: “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters, and Cardozos.” Nope, we can’t. (Interesting that his three examples of judicial greatness were the first three Jews to sit on the High Court.)

This past half century of presidents, with the notable exception of Ronald Reagan, has been marked by a parade of mediocrities in the White House, selected by an electorate more focused on media charm and warmth of personalities than on substance and competence. (I do not include President Trump here because these next several years will afford a clarity that today is too close in time.):

Jimmy Carter was out of his league. He ran as a peanut farmer, prepared to lead America into an era of gloom with a message that our best days were behind us, and we got precisely what we elected: peanuts. After Reagan, we got one mediocre Bush and then another, sandwiching a Clinton from Arkansas, who time has judged as a philanderer in office, the #MeToo prototype who had the good fortune to leave office just before Harvey Weinstein was dethroned from the status of “God” to which Meryl Streep shamelessly had elevated him. Was a Clinton and his hand worth two of the Bush? You be the judge.

And then came Obama — the most empty of suits, the Black candidate who rode race to the top, reared exclusively by a White mother and a White grandmother in Hawaii, a state less than 3 percent Black. Obama, the empty suit who was named the president of Harvard Law Review although, to this day, he never published a law review article or comment. The empty suit who rose by exposing others’ marital failings, the local Illinois politician who was elected by repeatedly exposing opponents as wife-beaters and as marital perverts.

He rose to be a U.S. Senator with no distinction — but, omigosh! he was so cool. He could walk down stairways without ever holding onto the railings on which mortals rely. He could hop, skip, and jump — almost like on a basketball court — when approaching a stage for speaking. For White audiences, he talked White. For Black audiences he talked Black. He had all the cool hip-hop and rap artists at the White House, even as he recently did at his 60th birthday bash. So cool.

So he got elected to be the commander in chief of the United States military and to lead the world’s greatest superpower. As H.L. Mencken brilliantly observed, in a democracy the people get what the people want — good and hard.

We pay a severe price in our country’s heritage, in our children’s futures, in our own lives and safety when we elect The Cool instead of The Great or at least The Competent. Clinton was so busy, ping-ponging from Paula Corbin Jones to Kathleen Willey to Juanita Broadrick to Monica Lewinsky that he failed to focus on the moment when America’s military had Osama Bin Laden in their cross-hairs. If he had been commander-in-chief on duty, there never would have been a 9-11. Beyond that, it was he who named Jamie Gorelick, the person whom history substantially has blamed for the 9-11 failure of the intelligence agencies’ right hands to know what the left hands were doing.

After Clinton came George Bush’s son, a good man of good personal character who had outgrown childhood impish behavior. But history has not judged him well either. He foolishly responded to 9-11 by attaching credence to those persuading him that America could take Arab Muslim dictatorships and convert them into models of freedom and democracy. Perhaps he could be forgiven for endlessly referring to Islam as the “religion of peace” — obviously a desperate marketing ploy like Obama calling Islamic acts of terror “workplace violence” — but Bush actually came to believe his own hype, thinking that American heroism, treasure, and blood could be leveraged into spreading American-style freedom and democracy from Afghanistan to Iraq.

As a result, America engaged in a region she did not understand, allied with people who despise Western values, and mistook the photographs of Arab Muslims with purple-ink finger tips as signs of American-style voting when in fact Americans were investing deeply into a program that made no sense and disrupted a decade-long war between the Iranian mullahs and ayatollahs versus the Saddam Hussein gang.

This is what happens when we elect fools based on personality. Israel tasted that when voters thought it would be sweet to have a “Bubbie,” a Jewish grandma like Golda Meir, running the country instead of a tough fellow like Menachem Begin. The Yom Kippur War’s unnecessary sacrifices along the Suez — thousands of boys kept in the dark by Golda’s government who knew what was in store — was the price.

We all voted that silly way in our first-grade classes when we elected the “Class President” or the “Class Monitor” who would rule the roost while Mrs. Jones went to the bathroom. In a choice between the smartest, best-behaved kid and the unruly six-year-old Most Likely to Be Incarcerated, we always vote based on fun, not character. But when we vote that way for our Knesset prime ministers, U.S. Senators, Governors, and Presidents we take grave risk.

And now the West has Joe Biden, fifty years a clown, a plagiarist, America’s latest entry in the march of fools.

Was he qualified? Of course not. For all his 50 years in Washington, he had produced so little of substance and consequence, but had conveniently recorded decades of statements establishing a penchant for being wrong. Still, he was easier to like than some of the Nasties who opposed him. The Democrats all around him during the primaries were so extremely off-tilt — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto, Gillibrand — that Joe Biden actually seemed partly sane by comparison, even if not aware. So that is the rabbit hole to which the Left media, the social media monopolies, and all the others led Americans.

Voters had no idea where he really stood on anything, and neither did he. Fittingly, now America has exactly the president that its democracy has afforded its voters to deserve.

-The economy is flying into inflation. Yet Biden asserts that injecting more trillions of debt will cure that.

-The crisis on America’s southern border, a hot spot that Trump had conquered, is worse than ever before. Moreover, until now the porous border has meant that Democrats could import voters dependent on government services and hand-outs to replace majorities that were voting Republican, but now that porous border will be a magnet for terrorists mixing in camouflaged among those on the run from Kabul.

-With Democrats demanding to defund police everywhere, police early resignations are at record highs throughout the country, and crime is soaring in major cities in ways and in numbers we have not seen for decades.

-Meanwhile, to mollify the phony “Systemic Racism” industry, Biden simultaneously is presiding over a cruel effort to poison the minds of America’s children with Critical Race Theory coming into elementary schools, crowding out math, science, English, cursive writing, and independent thinking.

Biden’s crowning achievement may prove to be the Afghanistan withdrawal. He was so sure he could preside over an elegant withdrawal, rapidly and flawlessly, leaving behind a solid pro-West government and military. Instead, Afghanistan’s capital cities fell faster than we could learn how to pronounce them.

Fittingly, Biden was on vacation through it all, while Kamala still had not taken office. No matter. They will let Saigons be bygones. As with the fall of South Vietnam, America’s theatrical and film entertainment community are particularly gifted at turning other nations’ horrific mass tragedies into really entertaining Broadway musicals. In a year or two, Biden will be able to watch a show at the Kennedy Center in D.C., perhaps even recycling the helicopter from “Miss Saigon,” to watch the sequel, “Miss Kabul.”

It will be a musical Americans deserve.

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Rabbi Dov Fischer is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County; senior rabbinic fellow and West Coast vice president of the Coalition for Jewish Values; and an adjunct professor of law.