She only officially entered the presidential race on Saturday, and already critics are counting Marianne Williamson out. To be fair, I understand why. On paper — and off paper for that matter — she is not your traditional candidate.
The author and spiritual advisor made waves in 2020 with her eccentric debate moments, including her focus on the moon landing and her insistence on harnessing love for political purposes to defeat Donald Trump.
But this time around, Williamson and her ethereal diction might be able to seize on one of President Biden’s major weaknesses: his incredible lack of empathy.
During the 2020 election, one of the media’s major selling points for their favorite hair-sniffer was that he was a person who cared. As Eddie Scarry wrote for the Washington Examiner in 2021, “That’s why they love President Biden so much. Biden has empathy. Biden cares. Biden cries.” And boy did the media love to remind us of Joe’s supposed soft side.
Here’s the Hill in February 2021: “Biden leans into empathizer-in-chief role.” Then Vogue in April 2021: “In His First 100 Days, President Joe Biden Has Fully Embraced His Role as Consoler-in-Chief.” And PBS in December that year: “President Biden as the Consoler in Chief.”
Yet anyone who is even remotely familiar with Biden’s behavior over the past five decades knows that the press’s entire characterization of Joe is utter BS. Whether it’s due to his age or cognitive decline, Mr. Cares-A-Lot has gotten worse at hiding his inner Mr. Hyde.
The most recent example occurred this week when Biden was speaking to a group of Democratic leaders at the House Democrats 2023 Issues Conference in Baltimore. He started venting to the audience about Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. “Isn’t she amazing?” he said, as his eager supporters burst into laughter. Before he continued, it was clear that the warning bells in his head were going off. He prefaced his next comment with “I shouldn’t digress, probably.” But alas, digress he did. “I’ve read she was very specific recently, saying that a mom — a poor mother who lost two kids to fentanyl — that I killed her sons. Well, the interesting thing is that fentanyl they took came during the last administration. (Laughs.)”
Biden was angry at Greene for her accusation that he was responsible for the death of Rebecca Kiessling’s two sons. Kiessling recently appeared at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing and shared her heart-wrenching story of loss. No matter how grossly inappropriate the setting might have been, the president couldn’t resist the opportunity to clap back at Greene. So he used this “poor mother” and her tragedy as a vehicle for his stomach-turning punchline.
But hey — at least he stuck it to MTG and her MAGA supporters! Nice work, Mr. President! A throwaway line for a bunch of cackling hyenas during a twisted stand-up routine — that’s what Rebecca Kiessling’s story is worth to Joe Biden. Keep in mind that during her testimony, Kiessling emphasized how this crisis is deeper than politics. “My children were taken away from me. This shouldn’t be politicized,” she told the committee. Unfortunately for Kiessling, our president — the “unifier-in-chief” — couldn’t help himself.
If that wasn’t enough evidence of Joe’s callousness, a few days prior he was asked by a White House reporter if he was planning to visit East Palestine, Ohio. Joe’s response? “At this point, I’m not. I did a whole video — I mean, um, what the hell — on…” The eighty-year-old struggled to finish his thought. A reporter then helped Joe remember the word “Zoom” and he deviated into a tangent on Aretha Franklin’s song “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”
Putting Joe’s painful old-man digression aside, it is alarming that the president of the United States feels as if he doesn’t need to visit Ohioans affected by an environmental disaster of epic proportions because he “did a whole video.” He’s certainly able to at least appear as though he cares deeply for the Ukrainian people. When it comes to pleasing his close friend President Zelensky, Joe goes above and beyond “a whole video.”
I’m not sure who Biden is consoling, but it’s certainly not the American people. Maybe if Biden cared as much about the dead fish and black clouds of smoke in East Palestine as he does about trading barbs with a MTG or tough-guy walking through Kyiv, then he would make an effort to fit Ohio into his travel plans.
But despite the president’s failings, no other contenders seem to want to challenge Joe in 2024. This is where the underdog comes in.
Marianne Williamson might be a punchline for a lot of pundits and news outlets right now, but she has something going for her. The zany political hopeful never comes off as angry or bitter or uncaring. She is unconventional, sure. But she isn’t mocking Americans’ struggles or dismissing their pain. The current administration has proven over and over again that they lack competence — but their lack of empathy might be a bigger part of their downfall.
Williamson is a long shot. But perhaps after four years of Biden’s strange brand of compassion, Democrats will decide once and for all to “harness the love.”