An Imaginary Conversation with Joe Biden

I don’t know much about Joe Biden, except that he’s been Barack Obama’s Vice-President for his entire presidency. But the impression I have of  him is that he’s a likeable sort of guy. About six months back he was asked what he’d do if Donald Trump got elected as president, and he replied, “I’d shake his hand.” That is, he would readily accept the outcome, and would welcome Trump as readily as George W Bush welcomed him and Barack Obama into the White House back in 2008.

That’s quite a contrast with the collective nervous breakdown that the US left underwent after Trump actually did get elected.

Yet it seems that it was only very late in the day that he realised that Trump might win.

The vice president, who made 83 campaign appearances for Clinton, said his misgivings were confirmed at a rally on the eve of Election Day with Clinton’s running mate Sen. Timothy Kaine (D-VA), when he said to his aides that he detected no excitement for the former secretary of state.

“You didn’t see any Hillary signs,” Biden recalled.

I’d noticed that too, from the other side of the Atlantic ocean. Because I’d seen several reports that there were forests of Trump signs all over the USA – except in the big cities -, and hardly any Hillary signs.

But Joe Biden seems to have only noticed this in the closing days of the campaign, and on the eve of the election in a speech he said:

“God willing we’re going to win this, but there’s a lot of people who are going to vote for Donald Trump,” Biden told the crowd. “We’ve got to figure out why. What is eating at them? Some of it will be unacceptable. But some of it will be about hard truths about our country and about our economy. A lot of people do feel left out.”

That’s a good question to have asked: “What’s eating them?” It’s just that it seemed, on election eve, a bit late in the day to be asking that question. Why hadn’t he asked it 18 months earlier?

Because, even though I’m not an American and have never ever been to America and I live on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, I could have answered that question for Joe Biden. Or at least I could have explained to him what was eating a very large number of Americans, and exactly why they were feeling “left out”.

So I’ve been imagining being there when Biden made that speech, and listening to him, and approaching him afterwards  and saying,

“Mr Vice-President, I know one bunch of Americans that’s feeling very much ‘left out’. Would you like to know who they are?”

“Sure,” Joe Biden would say, turning to face me. “Fire away.”

And I’d say,”Smokers. Smokers are feeling left out. And they have every reason to feel left out, because all over America they have been or are being exiled to the outdoors. And that’s what’s eating at them. And that’s why tomorrow they’re not going to vote for a antismoking zealot like Hillary Clinton. They’re going to vote against her.”

But by then Joe Biden’s eyes would have glazed over. “Smokers?” he’d say. “Smokers? Who gives a damn about smokers? Teachers, truck divers, miners, folks like that. Those are the people we listen to. But smokers? No.”

“Well, that’s the problem, Mr Vice President,” I’d say. “Nobody’s listening to them. They’re being thrown out of bars and restaurants everywhere. And they’re being hit with draconian taxes. They’re even being thrown out of their homes. And they’re angry. And there are a hell of a lot of them.”

And Joe Biden would shake his head and say, “Look, that’s a matter of public health, not politics. Here in America we’re trying our best to end the scourge of smoking. Half of all smokers die of smoking-related diseases. And we have to help them to quit. And most smokers – 70% – want to quit smoking. It’s the same in England, where I think you probably come from.”

And I’d say, “Most smokers no more want to quit smoking than most golfers want to quit playing golf. And that’s just as true in America as it is in England.”

But by then Joe Biden would have turned and started walking away, and the burly Secret Service agents who’d been eyeing me with the deepest suspicion would have stepped forward to usher me away.

That’s probably something like how it would have gone. For people like Joe Biden, smokers simply don’t exist as a political entity. They’re just a public health problem, like malaria or ebola.

But I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t have told him. And even if I had been there, I’d probably have found that you couldn’t just walk up to the Vice-President of the United States and say something to him. Not without first being screened, frisked, and questioned by an army of aides and bodyguards. These people are kept in a cocoon. Which is, of course, an explanation in itself for why they are all so out of touch with ordinary people.

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18 Responses to An Imaginary Conversation with Joe Biden

  1. slugbop007 says:

    But by then Joe Biden’s eyes would have glazed over. “Smokers?” he’d say. “Smokers? Who gives a damn about smokers? Teachers, truck divers, miners, folks like that. Those are the people we listen to. But smokers? No.”

    You should have replied that there are many teachers, truck drivers, miners and other hard working folks who smoke and you are ignoring them, Mr. Biden. President Obama smokes. Many people think that there are evil, smelly, child killing smokers on one side of the ledger and the pure as the driven snow nonsmokers on the other. Like weekend athletes, there are plenty of occasional smokers. You have met some of them. The building just beside mine had its roof resurfaced with tar last summer. Most of the workers were smoking on the job. I saw a documentary on the steel industry recently and the guy working the blast furnace had a cigarette dangling from his lips.  Racing drivers used to smoke while driving long distance races and after winning: Nuvolari, Juan Manuel Fangio, James Hunt et al. Paul Newman smoked. Sir Isaac Newton, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and many others smoked pipes. Immanuel Kant, Edwin Hubble, Albert Einstein, the list of notable geniuses who smoked is worth researching and disseminating.

    I just ordered some organic rolling tobacco from Lothar Wasko’s Pipe Shop this morning, Boxing Day. There was a link to the EU directive on blocking the distribution to certain countries and regions of Europe.

    I think that it’s time to sue the EU for obstruction of legal commerce: Article 18 Cross-border distance sales of tobacco products

    1. Member States may prohibit cross-border distance sales of tobacco products to consumers. Member States shall cooperate to prevent such sales. Retail outlets engaging in cross-border distance sales of tobacco products may not supply such products to consumers in Member States where such sales have been prohibited. Member States which do not prohibit such sales shall require retail outlets intending to engage in cross-border distance sales to consumers located in the Union to register with the competent authorities in the Member State, where the retail outlet is established, and in the Member State, where the actual or potential consumers are located. Retail outlets established outside the Union shall be required to register with the competent authorities in the Member State where the actual or potential consumers are located. All retail outlets intending to engage in cross-border distance sales shall submit at least the following information to the competent authorities when registering: (a) name or corporate name and permanent address of the place of activity from where the tobacco products will be supplied; (b) the starting date of the activity of offering tobacco products for cross-border distance sales to consumers by means of Information Society services, as defined in point 2 of Article 1 of Directive 98/34/EC; (c) the address of the website or websites used for that purpose and all relevant information necessary to identify the website.

    Here, in Quebec, the distribution and marketing of flavoured pipe tobacco has been banned. Meanwhile, armanent conventions grow apace.

    The (2003) directive from the World Bank to eliminate the existence of tobacco from the face of the Earth must be exposed for its sociopathic indifference to the livelihood of millions of workers, their families, their communities, pub workers, lorry drivers, service industry workers and the artisans who create and produce thousands of tobacco accessories.


  2. junican says:

    “The (2003) directive from the World Bank…..”: there’s the problem, Slugpoo. Why is a bank involved in tobacco control? The probability is that the WHO (aka UN) Zealot have managed to infiltrate a tobacco control department into the bank, which has the authority to insert tobacco control measures into the everyday activities of the World Bank. It isn’t jut the EU which needs cleansing, it is the whole UN structure. And yet, the whole TC structure is probably very flimsy. It needs someone like Trump to ‘drain the swamp’.

    • nisakiman says:

      The World Bank and the IMF are essentially the same organisation, and are closely associated with the WHO in terms of policy directives.

      Through loans, often to governments whose constituents suffer the most under the global economy, and “structural adjustment” policies, the World Bank (WB) International Monetary Fund (IMF) has kept most nations of the global south in poverty. Conditions on accepting loans ensure open market access for corporations while cutting social spending on programs such as education, health care and production credits for poor farmers.

      Created after World War II to help avoid Great Depression-like economic disasters, the World Bank and the IMF are the world’s largest public lenders, with the Bank managing a total portfolio of $200 billion and the Fund supplying member governments with money to overcome short-term credit crunches.
      But when the IMF and the WB lend money to debtor countries, the money comes with strings attached. These strings come in the form of policy prescriptions called “structural adjustment policies.” These policies—or SAPs, as they are sometimes called—require debtor governments to open their economies to penetration by foreign corporations, allowing access to the country’s workers and environment at bargain basement prices.

      Which is why the WHO have managed to roll out the FCTC globally. It has basically been an exercise in blackmail. ‘Either you sign the FCTC, or you will find the World Bank / IMF less than helpful if and when you need them’. It’s a powerful tool of coercion, and given the disdain in which smokers are held these days, most countries have been happy to sign, despite the fact that it’s manifestly external control over internal policy.

  3. Clicky says:

  4. garyk30 says:

    Biden is a silly old fool.
    His verbal gaffes are the stuff of legends. 😳😳🙄🙄👎

  5. garyk30 says:

    To help other Yanks understand British money.
    The pound has 240 pence and the US dollar has 100 pennies.
    £1 = $1.20(more or less)
    £1 = 20 shillings = 240 pence = 4 Crowns
    Guinea = 21 shillings = £1 and 1 shilling = 252 pence
    Shilling= 12 pence
    Florin = 2 shilling = 24 pence
    Half Crown = 2shillings 6 pence = 30 pence
    Crown = 5 shillings = 60 pence

    1 shilling = a nickel(US) more or less
    1 Florin/half crown = a dime(US) more or less
    1 Crown = a quarter(US) more or less
    5 pounds equals, more or less, 6 US dollars.

    There, isn’t that easy.

  6. castello2 says:

    hillary, biden, obama and the dnc are more conservative than trumph. The DNC has followed in the steps of the RNC. Big business big money.

  7. slugbop007 says:

    To Roobeedoo2, Loved your version of the Sgt Pepper album. Could you do a similar one with all the famous smokers in history? Be they politicians, scientists, philosophers, artists, musicians, celebrities, comedians, actors, the whole lot of them. People could send in the names that they’ve discovered. Then we send them out to all the Zealots. Maybe even a calendar for sale.

    Merry Merry Happy Happy


  8. waltc says:

    I think you’re dead right about Biden’s imaginary reaction. Smokers are a (sub) species unto ourselves, a problem for which a final solution is sought. A few days ago the NY Times ran an article about yet another of those Studies showing–direct quote– that social isolation kills as many people as smoking–especially, but not only, among the elderly. Yet were I to have commented that the smoking bans are cause of tne social isolation of many of the elderly, it would have been seen as a non-sequitur. Their proposed “cure” was that smokers should get out more with no acknowlegment that, as smokers, they would not be welcome anywhere, would wind up disparaged as filthy polluters, and exiled to the outdoors to again stand alone in social isolation.

  9. Lepercolonist says:

    “We’ve got to figure out why. What is eating at them?”

    After spending 1.5 billion dollars Hillary’s campaign had no idea ? These experts are a joke. Maybe smokers were mentioned to Hillary. Being the zealot she is, it would have been dismissed.

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