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Questions Sleepy Joe Should Be Facing But Probably Won't

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Joe Biden, the man, has had a difficult life, facing personal tragedies and more than a few family crises. But Joe Biden 3.0, the political candidate, is leading a charmed life. Let's be honest—COVID-19 has been a Godsend for this poor man who can barely string together a coherent thought. The pandemic has helped mask his apparent cognitive decline and has given him a convenient pretext to avoid difficult questions.The press is trying to help him limp across the finish line, as if he was an injured racehorse they’d placed large bets on. The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman even suggested that Biden should be given a debates hall pass. The presumptive Democratic nominee could meditate in a hammock at a Club Med somewhere until Election Day and still secure close to 50% of the popular vote and 98% of the media vote.

Debate moderators haven’t been selected, but look for this to be a potential pretext for Sleepy, Forgetful Joe to withdraw if anyone likely to ask him inconvenient questions is proposed. Rachel Maddow could be in the mix but Tucker Carlson? No chance. Biden will be harder to pin down than Andre the Giant was in his prime. Still, it’s worth considering some of the questions Teflon Lunch Bucket Joe should be asked if he ever slips up and accidentally steps outside his cocoon, because the questions Biden doesn’t want to answer offer telling insights into his weaknesses and a preview of coming attractions if he’s elected. Any of the following questions could trigger Sleepy Joe to shift into Lying Dog Faced Pony Soldier mode or risk losing votes.

Race relations: As vice president, you delivered the eulogy for Senator Robert Byrd, calling him “a mountain eagle” whose “lowest swoop was still higher than the other birds upon the plain.” Byrd, as you know, started a chapter of the KKK in West Virginia. He also spent 14 hours filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Do you regret lionizing him?

You’ve also had what you called “close personal relationships” with a number of segregationists, and in 1975, you said, “I think the Democratic Party could stand a liberal George Wallace — someone who's not afraid to stand up and offend people, someone who wouldn't pander but would say what the American people know in their gut is right.” Why did you think the Democratic Party needed a virulent racist like George Wallace, who famously said, “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever?”

The black vote: What did you mean when you told an African-American radio host, “You ain’t black” if you vote for Trump? Don’t you have to earn the black vote?

Affirmative action/reparations: Do you support preferential hiring and college admissions for African Americans and Latinos? How about for undocumented immigrants? And do you support reparations for African-Americans?

White supremacy and the Founding Fathers: Beto O’Rourke, who is part of your campaign, said that the U.S. was “founded on white supremacy.” And Symone Sanders, who is one of your senior advisors, said that America “has never fully lived up to its ideals.” Do you agree with these sentiments and how do you feel about pulling down statues of Lincoln, Jefferson, George Washington and other American presidents?

Hunter Biden: Why do you think that this Ukrainian company Burisma hired your son Hunter to be on its board with a salary of $50,000 a month? Is it a coincidence that he was hired while you were directing Ukraine policy at the White House? You’ve said that you flew into Kiev, gave the Ukrainians an ultimatum to fire a corrupt prosecutor who was investigating Burisma at that time or lose $1 billion in U.S. aid. You said, “well, son of a bitch, he got fired.” Given your son’s lucrative business dealings in Ukraine, shouldn’t someone else in the U.S. government have delivered that ultimatum?

Coronavirus response: You were asked at the March 15 debate with Bernie Sanders if we needed a national lockdown and you declined to a take a position. Why weren’t you calling for a lockdown in March when it might have mattered?

Masks: You’ve said that you’d require mandatory masks in all public places. Does this mean that someone in a place with virtually no cases, like Hawaii, for example, needs to put on a mask to walk their dog or relax on the beach?

China travel ban: You called the president’s late January travel restrictions on Chinese citizens “xenophobic.” Do you think the travel ban was a mistake?

China’s culpability: You’ve been a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic but haven’t said much about China’s role in allowing the virus to spread. Who bears more responsibility, China’s leaders or the president?

Legal Immigration: More than 1 million immigrants come to the U.S. legally every year. You’ve said that you support increasing this number. How many more should come and how will you decide who to let in? Biden would no doubt launch into America is a nation of immigrants mode, declining to give specifics. An appropriate follow up response would be, “Do foreign nationals have a right to migrate to the U.S.? If not, who does or doesn’t?

Illegal Immigration: Would you dismantle not only sections of the wall built during this administration but also the 400 plus miles of wall built during the Biden/Obama administration?

Bidenisms: What did you mean when you said, “We choose truth over facts?” How about when you said, “poor kids are just as bright as white kids?”

Chains: You once told an audience of African-Americans that Republicans were going to “put y’all back in chains.” Do you stand by that remark, and please tell us more about Corn Pop, the African-American gangster you once confronted with a chain.

Climate change/AOC: You named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as your co-chair on the climate task force. She has said that the “world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t’ address climate change.” Do you agree?

School reopenings: Teachers unions in a number of cities have said they won’t reopen schools in the fall and Nancy Pelosi recently tweeted, “President Trump and his Administration are messing with the health of our children as they seek to rush schools to reopen.” Do you think schools should reopen and would you be willing to take on the teachers unions if so?

School choice: You’ve said that you oppose school choice vouchers, which are popular with many people of color. How would you explain to an African-American single mother living near a failing school that you’re taking their family’s vouchers away?

Abortion: Why did you change your position on repealing the Hyde amendment at age 76, a few months after launching your candidacy?

Dave Seminara is the author of Bed, Breakfast & Drunken Threats: Dispatches from the Margins of Europe, and Breakfast with Polygamists: Dispatches from the Margins of The Americas.

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