Biden’s Calm in Trump’s Storm
Trump is the kind of guy Biden likely met many times in his young life.
Joe Biden has long struggled with a stutter. Joe often gives his direct phone number to kids who stutter. He offers them support to grow their courage and overcome the shame this can represent for them. “You can do this,” he says to them.
Now it’s coming to light that Trump’s hammering of Biden in the first debate, his constant interruptions and personal goading was an attempt to trigger a stutter from Joe. He wanted to break Joe and make him look weak. Trump failed, utterly. Joe’s composure was unbroken.
But to look at Trump’s behavior during the first debate, through this particular lens, that he wanted to trigger Biden’s stutter by hammering and insulting him in every possible way, makes Trump’s lack of human decency all the more evident. He is inhuman.
And it makes Joe’s comments during the debate all the more impressive and, for me, his restraint, deeply poignant. “This guy,” Joe said more than once, recognizing Trump for exactly what he is. The kind of guy Joe likely met many times in his young life.
My own father grew up on the streets of Richmond during the great depression. My father was, in his words, cockeyed. I have one photo of him as a young man. One eye looked off the wrong way. I’m guessing the kids on the streets never let him forget it. Dad never said. An Army Air Corps doctor fixed the his eye when Dad was in the service during the Second World War. He said that for a minute during the surgery, “I was looking at the back of my neck.”
But I do know this. On one occasion a group of young men threatened my father when I was ten years old. We were driving in the car. They pulled up next to us and threatened my dad for some stupid reason. He pulled the car over and got out. They pulled up behind.
He walked to the trunk, opened it, got out the tire tool and spoke in a voice I had never before heard. It was a roar, that echoed up and down the street. “Get out of the goddamned car,” he demanded. We, his children, sat in our car frozen with fear. The young men quickly drove off.
Years later, I came to understand I was seeing the boy who grew up on the hard scrabble streets of Richmond without two pennies to rub together. Who spent two years in an orphanage when my grandmother came down with tuberculosis. The kid who bare knuckle brawled every day of his young life, standing up to every bully who made fun of his eyes.
I saw my father in Joe during the first debate. In Trump? I saw every bully on the streets of Richmond. As kids, my father and Joe would have understood what Trump was right away. And Joe’s powerful, unshakable restraint on that stage makes me love the guy even more.
My disgust with Trump and all the bullies like him in the GOP, knows no bounds.