Perhaps Joe Biden’s decline is a metaphor for a new reality for the US, says Neil Oliver

The President is so enfeebled

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Remember 2019? Cast your mind back to that year, that oh, so recent time when everything was different. 2019 was not a perfect time, or a perfect world, but it was very different from this one of 2022. In 2019 the rights and freedoms we’d had for years – and shamefully taken for granted – were still broadly intact, or so it seemed. The idea that we might not be free to be with loved ones, to hold the hand of a dying parent, to earn a living, to leave our homes for more than an hour a day, that taking a holiday abroad would be, for a time, illegal, would surely have been unthinkable. As long as we could afford the necessary ticket, we had been free to travel the world. Surgical masks were a novelty, worn in places of work by medical professionals and by occasional visitors from Asia where altogether different cultural norms prevailed.

Across The Pond Donald Trump was in the White House. The US were energy independent then and hadn’t got involved in any new wars all the time he was in residence. European states even sneered when he warned against their reliance on Russian gas.

The list of things that were different about here, and the US, and the rest of West in 2019 could be so much longer, of course – almost endless, in fact – but I don’t have enough time.

So where are we now? Where to begin?

For one thing, by now there is a whole new definition of haves and have-nots. Society is split across the divide of the vaccinated and unvaccinated. A large majority of the population of the UK and of the rest of the West HAVE been vaccinated against a disease many now believe to have been made in a Chinese lab that had been funded by the US. It leaked from there, in 2019, to the wider world. The Have-Nots, who chose not to take the vaccine – who are increasingly glad they turned down the multiple offers of multiple jabs – but now metaphorically bruised and battered as a consequence of their resistance to the regime, are still vilified and called anti-vaxxers. Anyone questioning the vaccines and/or lockdown is still branded a conspiracy theorist.

There are many other consequences of the advent of the disease, and those vaccines, but again, I don’t have the time now. I will note that there are widespread reports that young athletes, at the peak of their games and fitness, have died of heart attacks and blood clots in the last two years, and that youngsters from all walks of life have been diagnosed with myocarditis and other serious conditions during the same period. But as I say – no time to go into that now.

Among the most eye-catching revelations has been the rabid enthusiasm, displayed by governments from one side of the European continent to the other, and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many more places besides, for high-handed curtailing of citizens’ rights. The pressure to submit to the experimental vaccines, for example, was almost unbearable to resist. In one country after another, the lives of the unvaccinated were made more and more uncomfortable, impossible. Unvaccinated Canadians still cannot travel within their own country, far less leave their country. The Australian government has only just relented and allowed – I say allowed as though such control was ever right and proper – allowed Australians to flee the prison island.

The nominal leader of the free world is President Joe Biden, a frail and infirm elderly man, visibly cognitively compromised. Some say Mr Biden has senile dementia, but I’m not in the business of medical diagnosis.

Last week there was a sad and worrying clip of him – there are endless sad and worrying clips of President Biden – finishing a speech and turning to leave the podium.

After a few, uncertain moments, he stopped and stuck out his right hand towards the left. This has been interpreted by some as an attempt to shake hands with someone who wasn’t there. To me it looked like he was simply trying to remember whether he should exit to left or right.

He turned his back on the audience then and walked, uncertainly with tiny steps, towards the backdrop provided by the US flag. After a further agony of moments, he turned again, and made his way, shakily, to the right.

For another elderly man, in another context, it would only have been sad – a glimpse of terminal decline. For another elderly man so lost there might have been rescue by a loved one, a guiding arm around the shoulders. But this is the leader of the free world, who must cope alone before the eyes of that world.

Perhaps Mr Biden’s decline is a metaphor for a new reality for the US. The years during which she was generally accepted as dominant in all things – economical, political, cultural – may be drawing to a close.

And then of course there is the present chaos and. we are told, looming threat of catastrophe. We have war in Europe, of the sort we have not had for decades, between Russia and Ukraine and excited talk, from some, of the imminent use of nuclear weapons. Compared to that lost world of 2019 – so near and yet so hopelessly far – this is very different indeed.

The years of lockdown that were our governments’ offering when it came to keeping us safe from the disease have caused economic mayhem such as has not been known in the West for a lifetime. Add to that the insanity of Carbon Net Zero, and all the sleights of hand concerning renewables – technologies made of interest to industry only by additional tax heaped onto consumers to subsidise wind farms and the rest of the money pits and so create the illusion they might realistically replace gas, coal and oil.

As a direct consequence of all that – lockdowns and Net Zero – the news is all about unavoidable shortages of food and energy – and massive hikes in the price of both. There is talk of rationing, and black outs. Rationing and blackouts are hardly new, but they are unfamiliar to most of the generations alive today. 2022 is a very different place in so many ways. Inflation, dark talk of interest rate hikes. Millions must live in fear of losing everything – their homes included. As it turns out, 2019 was the last year when the governments of the West could even pretend that the world in which they had had us living – a world of debt and funny money, outsourced production and manufactured dependence on imported energy – was in any way sustainable. What we are witnessing now is only chickens coming home to roost. What we are experiencing is the consequence of those governments, and their bankers, burning down the old house and moving themselves into the only addresses worth living in in the new one to come.

Routine now too is the talk of Digital IDs. A method of electronically tagging every man, woman and child – an intrusion into privacy and individuality that was once unthinkable and roundly dismissed by politicians, including our PM Boris Johnson – has, in 2022, the feel of something inevitable. Like lockdowns and vaccines and the rest, Digital IDs are increasingly a feature, an innovation, we are told will be for the greater good. Claims about the greater good used to be the favoured justification only of totalitarian regimes. They still are.

From 2019 to 2022 – such a brief blink of time, and yet so great a void has been created between the world of then and the world of now. Back then we still trusted that our opinions mattered.

But now, here’s the thing: the fitness or not of President Biden for the role of leader of the free world is debated everywhere.

I watched the latest clip of him tottering around, so apparently lost and confused, and realised that while the jury is out on his mental capacity, something else goes unremarked: it doesn’t seem to matter that the world is watching the President of the United States so enfeebled, so vulnerable.

It doesn’t seem to matter either, about his son, Hunter Biden’s, laptop, the one most of the US media invited us to dismiss as Russian propaganda. Of course, if such a laptop, belonging to a son of Donald Trump, had come to light before Trump was elected, it would have been the end of him. There would have been wall to wall media coverage of its contents, not least the references of payments made from shady deals to ‘the big guy’. But any mention of Hunter Biden’s laptop was suppressed out of existence by Big Tech.

For the duration of his presidency, Mr Trump was dogged with Democrat claims he colluded with Russia to seize power. All of those claims were proven false. Democrats, media and tech giants got away with a cover up. They got away with smearing the president. The world knows it was a smear followed by a cover up and yet it has had no consequences for any of the perpetrators. If one thing hasn’t changed, from 2019 until now, it is apparently the corrupt behaviour of so much of the world’s media.

That it doesn’t matter that we know that Biden is failing, that big tech and others colluded to suppress the truth and affect a US election, reminded me of the ongoing farce labelled Partygate. Whatever has or has not happened in the aftermath of internal enquiries, it is evident they broke their own rules. It is also clear they didn’t fear the disease. While the rest of the population was missing weddings and funerals, leaving loved ones to die alone, the politicians and their advisors were secure in the knowledge that get togethers posed no risk at all. Most important of all, they know we know all that and have the gall to think it shouldn’t matter.

I don’t care if Rishi Sunak has sworn loyalty to another state while Chancellor of our Exchequer. I don’t care how much tax his wife pays or doesn’t.

I care that they seem to think none of it matters.

This is a recurrent feature of 2022 – perhaps the most important of the many ways in which the world of 2022 is so different from the world of 2019: millions of ordinary, law-abiding, reasonable, tax-paying people, in one country after another, have noticed how different their world has been made without their consent. Those millions – though roundly abused by the authorities and ridiculed and shouted down from all sides – have shouted back, defiant.

Loud has been the cry that The Emperors Are Not Wearing Any Clothes. But nothing has happened because our seeing and knowing and shouting about it isn’t deemed to matter.

However … however … it is only the emperors, and those telling the emperors what to say and do, who THINK it doesn’t matter.

What has been done these past two years or so does matter, is the most important point of all. Millions of us have seen it and will always remember. In the end, when all is said and done, what we have seen and understood about our leaders and the world we live in will matter a very great deal indeed.