Joe Biden

Joe Biden Blocked Robert Bork's Supreme Court Nomination. Now, Biden Is Getting 'Borked' Too.

Paradoxically, in the current moment—a moment Biden helped to create by blocking Bork—being unqualified for the presidency is the best qualification a candidate can have.

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Who is to blame for an electorate that values youth over experience, that has elevated Pete Buttigieg and Barack Obama over Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton?

The culprit is, in a significant way, Biden himself.

I realized this during the New Hampshire Democratic primary debate hosted Friday by ABC News. Asked about possible Supreme Court choices, Biden bragged, "I almost single-handedly made sure that Robert Bork did not get on the Court."

When President Reagan nominated Bork in 1987, Bork was 60 years old. Bork had been a professor at Yale Law School and had served as solicitor general of the United States and as acting attorney general. Bork had served for five years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Bork's defeat in the Senate at the hands of Biden and his colleagues was a turning point in many ways. One of the most significant ways was that it upended the standards for desirability in a judicial nominee. Pre-Bork, the most desirable thing was to have lots of experience so that senators would be convinced that the nominee was qualified for the job. Post-Bork, the most desirable thing became to have as short a paper trail as possible, so as to minimize the chances that a nominee's writing could be distorted or seized upon in a way that could ultimately derail the nomination.

People haven't focused on it quite yet, but what we are and have been witnessing is a similar transformation in presidential politics. In presidential candidates, as with post-Bork judicial nominees, lengthy government experience has become a liability rather than a strength.

Look at how Biden's long track record has hurt Biden's candidacy. He's been attacked for his vote to authorize the Iraq War and for his opposition to federally mandated busing to combat school segregation in Wilmington, Delaware. Merely entering into a discussion of these matters, regardless of the merits of the underlying issues, has the effect of underscoring Biden's age, in a non-flattering way. Call it irony, or call it poetic justice, or call it, even, the Borking of Biden, even though the attacks on Biden, at least so far, probably have not been quite so distorted as to merit the term fully.

The triumph of youth, or of a blank slate, over extensive government experience isn't limited to the Democrats, either. Donald Trump, unlike Hillary Clinton, had no Senate vote record to defend, no Benghazi. Mitt Romney's record turned into a negative when Republican opinionmakers faulted his Massachusetts health reform and his evolving public statements on abortion. The internet has made this all worse. In the old days trashing a rival's record required hiring opposition researchers to go comb through libraries of microfilm or video archives. Nowadays it's all on Google.

There is something, though, about the Democratic swoon for Obama and Buttigieg that is particularly emblematic. It goes beyond the mere mechanics of campaigning or of opposition research. The short-on-experience candidates are the personification of judging on intentions rather than on results. They are the perfect representations—Bernie Sanders, in a way, too—of a party that prioritizes virtue-signaling over actually getting things done.

In April of 2019, after seeing Buttigieg in Boston, I described him as "downright impressive" and "the most interesting Democrat running for president." That was before Michael Bloomberg got into the race, but the "impressive" part still applies. When Biden attacks Buttigieg as unaccomplished, as he did in a campaign commercial over the weekend, it seems condescending. To say that Buttigieg is ill-prepared for the presidency isn't dismissive. It's a kind of praise. Paradoxically, in the current moment—a moment Biden helped to create by blocking Bork—being unqualified for the presidency is the best qualification a candidate can have.

NEXT: A Proposal for a New Federal Clerkship Hiring Plan (When The Current One Collapses)

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  1. You know who else Borked?

    1. Mrs. Bork?

    2. The Swedish Chef?

      1. Bork on, Bork off. The Borker.

    3. Mork with Mindy?

  2. When you look at the Real Clear Politics tracking in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, you will notice a pattern: Biden starts losing support, or some other candidate starts to rise, around mid-September 2019.

    Mid-September happens to be the same time the whistleblower complaint that launched Trump’s impeachment became public.

    Looking at the graphs of Iowa and New Hampshire you see quite clearly how Biden’s candidacy was riding high, the unequivocal frontrunner, for months. Months! Then suddenly the race became competitive between Biden, Sanders, Warren, and eventually Buttigieg.

    Biden has never regained that runaway frontrunner status since the Democrats started their bogus impeachment of Trump. And it’s quite easy to understand why.

    1. Biden was the real target; get the ‘moderate’ old guard out of the way by highlighting his family corruption. Any damage done to Trump was gravy.

    2. The impeachment process hurt Biden far more than what the President of Ukraine’s announcement could ever do.

      1. Easily predictable Streisand effect.

      2. His numerous “senior moments” on the campaign trail haven’t exactly helped his cause. At least when Trump blusters, you know he’s just being his normal carnival barker self because he’s done the same shit for 40 years. Biden said a lot of goofy shit himself, but he’s clearly lost whatever plot he might have had left.

        1. He keeps yelling at friendly locals.
          That’s just crazy – c’mon, man!

          1. You lying, dog-faced pony soldier!

        2. not to mention his frequent outbursts at any voters asking him a question, softball or not. That he has any support at this point is a miracle.

    3. That’s why it’s highly probable that Pelosi didn’t want the hearings, but had them shoved up her ass by The Squad. Pelosi is probably smart enough to know that the impeachment hearing would cast a very bright light on the establishment Democrats’ business dealings and would not end well.

    4. Yeah, there was no way to go after Trump on that issue without sinking Biden. It seems like sacrificing him was deemed worthwhile if it meant getting rid of Trump.

      Of course they killed their own candidate while strengthening Trump, something that was entirely predictable, but Democrats are gonna Democrat.

  3. Now that billionaire-friendly Democrat Mayor Pete has emerged as a leading candidate, I expect my favorite Koch-funded website to run many more pieces praising him. One of the greatest tragedies of the Drumpf era has been the inability of billionaires to prosper in this high-tariff / low-immigration economy. Pete would definitely fix that.

    #LibertariansForMayorPete

    1. OBL: Are you really such a masochist that you like to squat and do your business in public, a la San Francisco?

  4. Earlier today our own Matt Margolis argued that President Trump’s impeachment, which some thought would hurt sitting senators like Sanders and Warren by keeping them off the campaign trail, in fact, “probably doomed” Biden’s campaign. Highlighting the Biden Clan’s Ukraine corruption certainly didn’t help Joe any, but there might have been another element at work. Impeachment gave Democratic senators the chance to do what Democratic voters seem to crave the most: Attack Trump in self-defeating ways. I don’t get it, but evidently they really do love that.

  5. Pre-Bork, the most desirable thing was to have lots of experience so that senators would be convinced that the nominee was qualified for the job. Post-Bork, the most desirable thing became to have as short a paper trail as possible, so as to minimize the chances that a nominee’s writing could be distorted or seized upon in a way that could ultimately derail the nomination.

    This is one of those cases that no matter how hard you try, there ain’t no ‘both sides’ on this issue. The Democrats made the Bork hearings an entirely tawdry political affair which included going through his trash to find any shred of anything they could to derail his nomination. Hence the term “Borking”. I remember back in the 90s during a Clinton nomination some Democratic pundit sheepishly admitted that they deserved everything they were getting because, “Hey, we started it.”

    1. Another argument for this could be laid at the feet of Roe V Wade. Whatever you think of RvW, it was one of the most constitutionally dodgy supreme court decisions of all time and arguably did more damage to the debate than it helped.

      It’s thought that because Democrats know this in their gut, they’re perpetually scared shitless that it’ll be revisited and overturned, so they’re willing to do anything to keep it there. Including falsely accusing a nominee of rape.

      1. I think Roe V Wade would have been stronger if the court had the courage to say “9A, that’s why” and leave it at that.

        1. Yes, the whole “penumbras and emanations” crap stood the Constitution on its head – if you want a right to privacy you have to show where in the Constitution it says you have one. And if you have to torture the Constitution to find the right, so be it. It’s not like you could just say the People have all the rights except for the ones specifically granted to the government by the Constitution.

          Ironically, that’s just about exactly what Bork said when he ink-blotted the Ninth as basically worthless as a Constitutional provision because who knew what it might mean? Unenumerated rights? That could mean anything! How the hell can you know what your unenumerated rights are unless they’re enumerated? That’s just a silly sentence better ignored.

          1. I thought the point of the ninth was that enumeration of rights protected and privileges granted in the Constitution and the first eight amendments did not unprotect existing rights and privileges established under common law but not enumerated under the Constitution and its amendments.

            I also notice that the Constitution says government entities have powers and authorities while people (citizens) have rights and privileges. Take an ASCII file of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and search terms some time.

            AMENDMENT IX
            The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be
            construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

            AMENDMENT X
            The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

      2. The foundation of RvW was a lie.

        And now it’s getting deserved attention. Time to revisit it.

    2. This is one of those cases that no matter how hard you try, there ain’t no ‘both sides’ on this issue.

      I take it you haven’t read Bork’s writing. The man was an extremist, with, for example, little regard for the First Amendment. The case against his nomination was strong.

      1. Oh baloney = The man was an extremist…

        Judge Bork was an academic, and a professor at Yale, and a brilliant jurist. He wrote about legal theories that were controversial. Pardon me, but isn’t that what law professors are supposed to do? Test the limits and boundaries of our understanding of the law?

        The article ignores a lot of the context. Iran-Contra was winding down, POTUS Reagan was politically wounded, we were heading into an election year; Senator Kennedy saw his opening and slandered a good man. His words and actions were wrong.

        To me, ‘Borking’ was the seminal event in modern political history in making judicial appointments a cause for political warfare. The judicial appointment process post-Bork just went downhill.

  6. Joe Biden, suck a bag of dicks!

  7. Trump wasn’t a blank slate. His record as a private businessman was a key element in the 2016 campaign. He boasted of it, while his opponents dredged up the less savory aspects of his business career. Not to mention what may euphemistically be called his personal life. The voters (in the key states) seemed to be more willing to put up with Trump’s baggage than Hillary’s, who had a whole airline carousel full of baggage.

    The candidates with “experience” are the ones who have been in government a long time, and who are for some strange reason seen by many voters as part of the problem.

    1. Meanwhile, Biden is so swampy, the comic-book character Swamp Thing thinks it’s too much.

      https://www.dccomics.com/characters/swamp-thing

    2. Also: Trump’s business experience is necessarily also political experience, since his business was high-end New York City real estate.

    3. Hillary’s, who had a whole airline carousel full of baggage.

      And pedophiles. Don’t forget the pedophiles.

    4. Hillary has her own baggage claim terminal.

      1. She keeps funneling it to the last baggage office, and they keep shoveling it back.

        1. oh hell, lost not last.

          1. Double check autocorrect. I blame it for substituting wrong words.

  8. In April of 2019, after seeing Buttigieg in Boston, I described him as “downright impressive” and “the most interesting Democrat running for president.” That was before Michael Bloomberg got into the race, but the “impressive” part still applies.

    Both of them are far left authoritarians of the highest order. What about them could anyone who claims to be the slightest bit libertarian or even conservative find “impressive” or “interesting”?

    I don’t understand why people like Stoll keep pretending they are not leftists.

    1. I don’t understand why people like Stoll keep pretending they are not leftists.

      He needs a paycheck while he learns to code.

    2. The same way you can find a nuclear explosion “impressive” or “interesting”. Lots of extremely destructive things are impressive, if only in their destructive power. And the science behind a nuclear explosion is not merely interesting but fascinating if you have any background in physics. That doesn’t mean I want one near me. Impressive and interesting are not automatically positive adjectives.

      1. So, context doesn’t matter in your world.

        Noted.

  9. a party that prioritizes virtue-signaling over actually getting things done.

    This statement basically embodies most of the Reason staff, as far as I can tell.

    1. and every Congressman

  10. Bork committed judicial-political suicide when he kissed Nixon’s ass during Watergate and fired the special prosecutor, et al. The liberals never forgot it, giving Biden a moment to play savior.

    As to experience being a death-knell, while theres some truth there, one shouldn’t overlook a candidate’s real or perceived truths and passions to their message(s).

    Obama, Trump, Bernie and Mayor Pete fit that bill. Biden looks like he’s going through the motions, as did Hillary.

  11. “Dog-faced pony soldier.” Aaaand, we’re done here.

    And, cry more.

  12. My major problem with Biden is his age. The presidency requires stamina and energy. I believe that Biden is showing the strain of his years, more than Trump, Bernie and warren (so far).

    I am looking for a younger candidate than someone in their 70s (I am 60, btw). It is time for younger people and ideas to take the lead. I also am partial to military veterans, both in Congress and as Commander-in-Chief. I like Mayor Pete and Tulsi Gabbard. I was also partial to Julian Castro and Corey Brooks. I despise Trump.

    1. So you’re partial to Pete et al. because they’re not 70-something? That’s pretty high standards for a Democratic voter!

      1. In part, but yes, not being in their 70s is a very good thing. I also like them because they are moderate.

    2. “…I despise Trump.”

      Yeah, one of his qualities is keeping lefties steppin’ and fetchin’. I certainly hope he’s reelected rather than any of the clown-car D candidates, and I hope you cry for the next four years.

      1. I am not a party hack. I am unaffiliated. I left the Republicans in 1992 when the Religious Right nuts took them over. I despise Trump because I think he is a fraud and utterly clueless in policy matters. The one good thing I can say about him is that he is not in a rush to get into another war, despite the hawks he has surrounded himself with.

    3. “It is time for younger people and ideas to take the lead.”

      Younger ideas?

      How young?

      Greta young?

      Why not? The left act like children and want the state to take care of them so it makes perfect sense they want kids to rule them.

      I am Grrreta and I am here to help.

      1. How about next generation young? Not infant young.

  13. Robert Bork didn’t take bribes from China and Ukraine while negotiating for the United States, nor did he use his family as a giant money laundering ring. Bork was a good man unfairly smeared for political advantage.

    Biden’s not getting Borked…Biden’s getting exposed for the shameless incompetent hack he always was.

    1. I agree. Biden isn’t getting Borked, because that would require making up a bunch of lies about him and spreading it in the MSM.
      Ted Kennedy started it with:

      “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens”

      That’s far different from Biden’s flip flops on policy being used against him. It’s also far different from Biden engaging in corruption in Ukraine and China to fatten his family’s and friends’ wallets using US taxpayer money to do it. There isn’t a single truth in anything Kennedy said. And what Democrats are saying about Biden’s flip flops is the truth.

      1. My fondest hope is that when Biden implodes tonight and drops out of the race after Super Tuesday when his few remaining supporters abandon him, that the investigations into what he was doing in Ukraine and China by DOJ continue.

        I want to see these fuckers pay for what they’ve done. Go after them and every one of their family members who were involved. And start with Joe Biden. Let him end his sad, senile life behind bars with his cokehead kid.

  14. IIRC it was Ted Kennedy that borked Bork. He said in Bork’s America a young woman would not be able to get an abortion. Ironically in Ted’s America she could get one in the back seat of his Oldsmobile. You can thank the inbred rabbit faced retard voters of Massachessetts for breaking the curse of politicians being caught with dead girls or live boys. They sent Ted and Barney Frank and Gerry Studds back repeatedly.

    1. “inbred rabbit faced retard”

      I spit out my Sanguine orange.

    2. “”Ironically in Ted’s America she could get one in the back seat of his Oldsmobile”‘

      Is he driving?

    3. >>inbred rabbit faced retard voters

      sometimes you’re Fats of Funny

  15. Also the problem with Obama and Buttigieg wasn’t their lack of experience, it was the lack of any reporter to go digging for any kind of information, You knew Joe the Plumber’s complete history in one day after he confronted The One. Obama’s history is still a state secret. Buttigieg resembles a Manchurian candidate, cocked up in the CIA and guided though all the steps necessary to get him where he is today. For all anyone knows he may not even be gay.

    1. Two greats back to back posts.

    2. ????????? Conspiracy!!!

    3. Buttigieg’s dad made his mark as an academic studying and translating the works of the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. He even founded the Gramsci Society.
      http://www.internationalgramscisociety.org/

      1. Not Manchurian. Maltese.

        1. He is, in terms canine, a Maltese to Trump’s Doberman.

  16. In April of 2019, after seeing Buttigieg in Boston, I described him as “downright impressive” and “the most interesting Democrat running for president.” That was before Michael Bloomberg got into the race, but the “impressive” part still applies.

    Is Mr. Stoll saying Bloomberg is ‘more impressive’ than Buttigieg?

    Bloomberg is a left-wing tyrant with a God-Napoleonic complex. He’s toxic.

    Jesus Christ, Reason.

    1. Yeah, I didn’t know if “interesting” was supposed to mean like Hannibal Lector or what? Bloomberg is a narcissistic psychopath. He makes Trump look like Mr. Rodgers.

      1. “…He makes Trump look like Mr. Rodgers.”

        And the Ds turned him into a sympathetic victim of persecution; amazing!

    2. Yea Reason is full fascist now. Tell me how Mayor Pete is libertarian Ira?

      1. But they’re not even backing the cool aspects of fascism… Like putting commies in camps! Or having sweet uniforms!

      2. Buttigieg has vowed to pack the SCOTUS with progressives.

        That makes “mayor pete” a red diaper progressive as his parents were avowed Marxists.

    3. Typical New York mayor.

  17. Biden to Pete: Now go home and get your fuckin’ shinebox.

    But seriously, good points.

    1. Go and vote for someone else you dog-faced pony-soldier liar.

  18. Maybe people just don’t like the real world outcomes of lefty rhetoric?

    It’s a bit ridiculous to claim that Trump and W didn’t have paper trails.

  19. What is it with the RW and Bork?

    This is the guy who committed the Saturday Night Massacre for Nixon. This is the ‘man of integrity’ Reagan picked for the SC?

    Of course the Dems blocked him, advise and consent is not a rubber stamp. Reagan got to nominate another candidate, and the Dems approved him.

    1. You mean, after two superiors felt their perfumed personal honor would not allow them to follow the Prez’ order and fire Cox, Bork the former Marine saw his duty and did it. That what you mean? I can see why this would unnerve and alarm Democrats. How very extreme!

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  21. If you call Biden’s long string of failures, corruption, and war mongering a “qualification for the presidency”, you have very different ideas from what a president ought to do. Very nonlibertarian ideas I might add.

    Biden is floundering precisely because he is an unaccomplished political hack, and he has the record to prove it.

  22. This reminds me of the Ross Perot’s answer on the “experience” question in his first presidential debate:

    “Well, they’ve got a point. I don’t have any experience in running up a $4 trillion debt. I don’t have any experience in gridlock government where nobody takes responsibility for anything and everybody blames everybody else. I don’t have any experience in creating the worst public school system in the industrialized world, the most violent crime-ridden society in the industrialized world. But I do have a lot of experience in getting things done.”

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  24. Or it could be he just sucks, maybe he’s just a “lying dog faced soldier pony”?

    Hillary just sucked royally.

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  26. This is brilliant insight and analysis
    So much so that I had to recheck that I was still on reason.com.

    Then it occuered to me that it wasnt That brilliant. This piece and the time capsule this morning only underscore what a shitshow this rag has become.
    The entire “B Team” needs to go. Im not only used to mediocre here, Im used to terrible. So an actual thoughtful point now seems like a glittering jewel in a giant pile of dung

  27. >>Look at how Biden’s long track record has hurt Biden’s candidacy.

    the plagiarism, racism or plain idiocy?

  28. ahh the irony! Biden was likely to stroke out in the middle of the general, and here Trump gets himself impeached trying to smear perhaps our worst candidate.

    1. No he’s not worst you lying dog faced pony soldier ?
      Who is your best?

  29. I know you guys stray from the topic so I would like to ask you:

    Trump introduced his budget. scheduled to balance in 2034 if we have 3% growth every year , and includes cuts to social safety net.

    what ever happened to tea party sentiments and the Paul wing of libertarian party?

  30. Paradoxically, is reason endorsing a Trump 2020? No anytime else add to be expected.

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  33. Nancy Pelosi pushed Trump’s impeachment even knowing–through her acute sense of politics–that it would go nowhere, but she also knew Trump and the Republicans would eliminate Joe Biden from contention for the nomination by hanging Hunter’s greedy grifting in Ukraine around Joe’s neck–right where it belongs, since he was Hunters enforcer.

    But why, Nancy, why?

    With the Dems certain to be in complete disarray when their nominating convention convenes, with none of the candidates having garnered enough delegate votes to gain the nomination, the door would open for Nancy to throw her hat in the ring and scoop up the nomination–IF, giant IF, this Michele Obama doesn’t beat her to the punch.

    Remember, come August, you first heard it here.

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