Donald Trump’s propensity for over-the-top statements and big promises plays into his detractors’ characterization of him as a con artist.
For example, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman wrote a book called “Confidence Man.” It’s her bird’s-eye view of Donald Trump’s presidency.
The New York media, including Haberman, knew Trump long before he entered politics. Haberman didn’t like Trump before he became president. She could have written a book with the same title if he never became a politician.
If Haberman or anybody else at the Times were objective, they would write Joe Biden’s story. It could be titled “Grifter Joe.”
Joe Biden has been part of America’s consciousness as long as Trump. He was first elected senator in 1972. By his first presidential run in 1988, he’d been in the Senate for over a decade.
A few months into that campaign, Biden was caught plagiarizing a speech by a member of Britain’s Parliament. Several additional instances of Biden using someone else’s material without attribution turned up.
Thus, the legend of “Grifter Joe” was born.
READ MORE — Andy Bloom: Four more lessons from the Republicans’ disastrous midterm elections
While campaigning in New Hampshire, a voter asked Biden about his law school academic record. C-SPAN cameras captured a testy Biden barking, “I probably have a much higher IQ than you do.” Continuing, he claimed he received three undergraduate degrees, a full law school scholarship and finished in the top half of his graduating class. Newsweek disassembled those claims: Joe Biden was 76th out of 85 in his Syracuse College of Law school graduating class. He exaggerated the rest of the story.
In Sept. 1987, then-Senator Joe Biden explained to the New York Times, “I exaggerate when I’m angry, but I’ve never gone around telling people things that aren’t true about me.”
History suggests otherwise.
The 1988 campaign incidents of plagiarism, blowing up at a voter’s questions and then challenging their IQ (something Biden repeated in 2020), should have told voters everything they needed to know about Joe Biden’s integrity. The public should have identified him as “Grifter Joe” right then.
It didn’t go much better when Biden tried to run for president a second time in 2008. After receiving less than 1% of the vote in a disappointing fifth-place finish in Iowa’s caucuses, Biden dropped out. Despite Biden’s comments about Obama, the young senator selected him as his running mate later that year.
In 2020, Biden’s third run proved the charm. It began like Biden’s previous attempts. He finished fourth in the Iowa caucus and fifth in the New Hampshire primary. He was broke and close to dropping out. When it appeared Democrats would nominate democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, the party rallied behind Biden.
Biden’s frequent gaffes and misstatements were a constant concern for his strategists. With the Covid pandemic looming large, Biden conned the nation by campaigning primarily from his home in Delaware via teleconference during the general election. The media would have never permitted such a shell game during the previous 60 years.
No presidential candidate has survived the string of gaffes, mistakes, and bizarre incidents Biden did during the 2020 campaign. Still, the media rarely questioned Biden’s mental acuity and physical stamina because a great con requires an inside accomplice, called the punter, to distract the mark. The media was the punter.
Not everything Biden said during the campaign was a misstatement or gaffe. He outright lied too.
During the first debate with Trump, Biden said there was nothing to the Hunter Biden laptop story. He cited a letter from 50 former national intelligence officials, including several former CIA directors who claimed the report was “Russian disinformation.”
He had to know this wasn’t the truth even as he spoke.
Since then, we learned that the FBI approached Facebook with a similar story. Whether the FBI was a punter or mark is open for interpretation.
More than two years after the New York Post broke the story, with the midterm elections in the rear-view mirror, CBS News confirmed the laptop was authentic (duh) by employing a former Secret Service computer crime expert to ascertain the laptop’s legitimacy. No news organization applied such a test to the Trump — Russian collusion or dossier stories.
It’s another in a series of flim-flams by “Grifter Joe” aided by the media.
During his first two years in office, we’ve seen Biden beleaguered and bewildered. When the spotlight is on him, he makes a gaffe or says something outrightly false with increasing regularity. The White House communications office routinely must clarify or walk back what the president said. Yet the media mostly ignores the blunders as if nothing happened.
Historically, midterm elections are unkind to the president’s party. Polls leading up to the election consistently showed two-thirds to three-quarters of voters thought the country was on the wrong track. Biden’s job approval hung in the low 40s. The 2022 elections were shaping up to be ugly for Biden and the Democrats.
Republicans expected a red wave.
Despite narrowly winning back the House, the midterms were terrible for Republicans.
As I’ve previously written, Republicans paid the price for: the Supreme Court overturning Roe, continuing to re-litigate the 2020 election, weak candidates (most of whom were hand-picked by Trump), and failing to detail their plans to improve the issues making voters unhappy.
Despite weak poll numbers, “the Bully Pulpit” is a powerful tool Biden used to con voters. It is an essential ingredient baked into the midterm results.
The “Democracy is on the ballot” canard was another scam. Biden helped Democrats run against the ghosts of Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler.
My liberal friends won’t believe this, but no Republican was planning on canceling elections or ending democracy.
If the president could con voters into believing democracy and freedom were at stake, then inflation, crime, and the border would seem like trivialities.
It was only part of “Grifter Joe’s” snow job.
Last spring and summer, $5 gas was the greatest challenge threatening Biden’s presidency. The “Putin Price Hike” was a sham. No matter how often he spit out “Putin Price Hike,” there wasn’t enough magic to make it believable.
Blaming oil companies for record profits and price gouging was slightly more successful. Never mind that these corporations were delaying investing hundreds of millions of dollars in always-risky oil exploration because of uncertainty Biden created by promising the end of fossil fuels and executive actions to prove it.
Still, Biden had to do something. Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves proved ineffective. He would have to look elsewhere for solutions.
Candidate Biden promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah state.” Apparently, the view from the White House is different from Biden’s bunker in Delaware. In June, Biden attended a meeting of Gulf nations where, hat in hand, he met with Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman hoping to cajole him into delaying OPEC’s announcement to cut oil production until after the midterm elections.
Biden isn’t as proficient at divining the future as he is at duping Americans. When he promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah nation,” he didn’t see $5 gallons of gas coming. Payback is a bitch for grifters! The prince denied Biden and embarrassed him by leaking the request.
Joe Biden is doing what grifters always do: moving on in search of his next mark.
In August, Joe Biden found he could entice a voting block that helped him in 2020.
Forgiving student loan debt was a critical issue for the party’s left flank. Biden was delaying a decision on forgiving student debt. It mattered most to younger voters who had soured on Biden in recent polls.
Two months before the election, Biden announced a program to forgive up to $10,000 per student ($20,000 for those with Pell Grants). Rather than issuing an executive order, Biden claimed authority under legislation used during the Covid emergency. It was an ironic claim, given the CDC lifted most of its Covid restrictions eleven days earlier.
A week before the student debt forgiveness announcement, the administration celebrated the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act.” The legislation did nothing to curb rising prices now, which is another con. Over the next ten years, it would cut the deficit by a few hundred million dollars and thus, hypothetically, by the administration’s estimates, reduce inflation by less than a tenth of a point. Double conned!
But the student debt reduction program would eat up those savings and more. Which shell is the ball under now?
Many believe the Biden administration knew the student debt forgiveness program would never survive legal challenges but moved forward with it for political purposes. If so, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever know for sure, this administration reached a level of cynicism beyond even Trump’s capacity. At best, believing the program will pass legal muster is wishful thinking.
Those with student debt were the next mark Joe Biden hustled.
In mid-September, Biden thought he could play “superhero.” A strike by the railroad workers union was imminent. The Biden administration, which claimed the supply chain was a significant cause of inflation, could not risk further damage to the economy before the election. Therefore, President Biden personally stepped in to solve the problem.
After 20 hours of talks, they reached an agreement to avert a strike. Biden called it “an important win for our economy and the American people.” Just weeks before the election, Biden boasted that he had “kept the trains running on time.”
Now, less than a month after the election and just weeks before Christmas, rail workers are about to strike again. It turns out that there is no agreement. The Biden miracle, in reality, was another mirage. When union leaders and the rail carriers’ management flipped over the shell, neither found the ball. They’d been hoodwinked, like any voter who gave Biden credit for brokering a deal.
Where’s Grifter Joe now? He spent Thanksgiving on Nantucket — usually the playground of the wealthy elite — which the Bidens have maintained they aren’t. With the midterms over, he has no intention of getting involved with the railroads. The president has called on Congress to do the work to avoid the rail strike that would cripple the already fragile economy.
Joe Biden is doing what grifters always do: moving on in search of his next mark. Be sure he will con Americans again because there’s a 50-year history of “Grifter Joe” bamboozling the public.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). He can be reached by email at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.