by Jay Bookman, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]
April 7, 2023
“I’ll say it again,” Marjorie Taylor Greene says in a new video labeled “The Predator President.” “Democrats are the party of pedophiles.”
What follows in the video is a compilation of interactions between Joe Biden and various young people, attempting to make the case that the 80-year-old president sexually abuses young children.
This is what the modern Republican Party has become; this is what it is trying to make America become. Greene, like her spirit animal Donald Trump, appeals to the worst of us, and the worst of us respond.
I want to focus on one particular interaction in Greene’s video compilation, a conversation between Biden and a 13-year-old boy whom Biden embraces and asks for his telephone number. It is indeed a creepy moment, not because of the intimacy between Biden and the boy but because of the exceedingly perverted way in which Greene depicts it. In her grimy paws, something beautiful becomes something sickening.
In a longer video from which Greene steals the scene, the boy’s father introduces him to Biden at a campaign event in New Hampshire.
“We’re here because he stutters,” the father explains. “He wanted to hear you speak.”
Biden, of course, overcame a serious stuttering problem as a child. And his empathy with the kid is immediate.
“Ah man, I tell you what,” Biden says as he embraces the boy. “Don’t let it define you. You are smart as hell, you really are. You can do this. Can I get a phone number for you and I can tell you what I used to do, and how I would do it?”
Biden tells the boy that he still works with 25 other stutterers, trying to help them overcome their shared handicap, and he offers his personal help and encouragement.
“It takes a lot of practice, but I promise you. I promise you can do it. And don’t let it define you. You’re handsome, you’re smart. You’re a good guy, I really mean it.” And indeed, Biden did really mean it. He followed up with the promise, coaching the boy by phone and in person in tactics to overcome stuttering.
It takes a vile human being, without heart or any vestige of morality, to try to turn something humane and touching into something so ugly as pedophilia. It would be cruel coming from an anonymous internet troll, but it did not. It came from a member of Congress from right here in Georgia, a person who has become one of the most powerful people in her party.
That’s the part that bothers me most. American politics has always been a rough sport; we’ve always had grifters and charlatans in the game, and neither party has held a monopoly on the sort. Greene is nothing new.
But what’s new is the response. For a long, long time — so long that we had maybe fooled ourselves into thinking it would always be that way — people of both parties who thought of themselves as decent and intelligent have rejected her type, have pushed them back into the shadows and the fringes where they belong, nursing their sour resentments until their souls curdled. There were boundaries and limits, and prices to be paid for crossing those boundaries.
Now, too many of the “decent and intelligent” have chosen to fall silent, and the boundaries are ignored. The worst among us are rising, and they will continue to do so until they are stopped or they take us into very dark places. Because as Greene, Trump and others have shown us, they themselves have no boundaries, no limits on how vile they can be, and too many others have shown themselves willing to follow their example.
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