Biden campaign watch: Messianic Catholicism is driving this bus

In a country whose founding principles include the separation of church and state, the future of democracy is now being held hostage by the stubborn, delusional, distinctly Roman Catholic saviour complex of President Joe Biden. This is ironic, coming from a candidate who long ago entered politics inspired by the example of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a Roman Catholic who famously argued that a president’s religious faith should be a private matter.

In the wake of Biden’s disastrous debate with Donald Trump, most of the voting public who regard a second Trump presidency as unfathomable have responded with one voice: the Democrats need another candidate. Whether it’s Vice President Kamala Harris or someone else, the odds of staving off a Trump victory on November 5 are greater if it’s anyone but Joe. The message is clear, including from his supporters. The concerns about age, mental acuity and physical fitness, which Democrats tried to dismiss before the debate, were only confirmed by the debate with horrifying clarity, turning the Biden candidacy into kryptonite.

The opinion polls have been damning, a referendum on both Biden’s debate performance and his odds for re-election. Party donors, as well as Senate and House Democrats, have held emergency meetings. A  flood of editorials, along with supporters on talk shows and social media, are pleading for him to quit. And White House staff are burning out from the stress of having to calm nerves in the administration. One would think all this would be enough to convince Biden it’s game over. But never mind tea leaves: one important indication of mental acuity is an ability to read the room. When you’re the last person to get the memo that your time is up, you have definitely failed that test.

Then there was the ABC News interview. The affront to presidential dignity was bad enough: Biden was forced to answer questions normally confined to the doctor-patient relationship. But during his twenty-two-minute, prime-time sit-down with former Clinton White House staffer George Stephanopoulos, he also managed to score multiple own goals. Tellingly, when Stephanopoulos asked him whether he would abandon his campaign if enough advisors convinced him he could not beat Trump, he said this: “If the Lord Almighty came down and said ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race. The Lord Almighty’s not coming down.”

Stephanopoulos followed up with a not-so-subtle atheist jab: “I agree that the Lord Almighty is not going to come down. But if you are told reliably from your allies, from your friends and supporters in the Democratic Party, in the House and the Senate that they’re concerned you’re going to lose the House and the Senate if you stay in, what will you do?”

“I’m not going to answer that question,” said Biden. “It’s not going to happen.”

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What’s going on here? Fintan O’Toole perhaps put it best in his essay, “Savior Complex,” in the New York Review of Books on July 2.

“Those who define themselves by the thing they are not eventually find themselves more and more like their imagined opposite. To be someone’s antithesis is also to be their alter ego,” began O’Toole, describing Biden’s approach to Trump. “The great problem, and the one that now threatens to engulf American democracy, is that Biden began to think of himself as indeed a savior figure.”

While it’s true he saved the United States by preventing a second Trump term in 2020, added O’Toole, Biden has a mindset that is “deeply religious, and specifically Christian.” During his inauguration, held two weeks after the January 6 invasion of the Capitol, he “offered to stake both his earthly body and his immortal soul on the defense of democracy,” echoing Lincoln’s commitment to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863: “My whole soul is in this.”

O’Toole noted how Trump’s unlikely return to presidential politics in 2024 had given Biden “a second chance at achieving something worthy of his eternal soul”—saving the country from Trump again:

If thoughts of eternity gather round the aging Catholic believer, this is Biden’s political equivalent of an undying achievement. In his inaugural address, he evoked the struggle of light against darkness. He sees the delivery of a final, fatal blow to Trump as the ultimate vanquishing of the American darkness.

Despite the nobility of this sentiment, added O’Toole:

The difficulty is that it also endorses a kind of personal exceptionalism. Biden, because he has suffered so much pain, is deeply inclined toward the Christian message that suffering is redeemed by a self-sacrificing savior.

And this is where Biden becomes the mirror of Trump, enabling the authoritarian assumption of indispensability: that only an exceptional man can save America. In Biden’s case, banking on faith to produce a victory of light over darkness is reckless and narcissistic. Just like you-know-who.

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It is now a foregone conclusion that Biden’s candidacy is toast. Pundits are already musing on the leading candidates to replace him. My hope is that the piece you are reading right now turns into the online version of fish wrap as soon as possible. We all hope Biden will announce in the coming hours or days that, for the good of his country and the rest of the world—not just the Democratic Party—he will stand behind whoever is nominated as his heir apparent.

But for that to happen, “the Lord Almighty” needs to reach him first. And who might “the Lord’s” emissary be? Are there any progressive Roman Catholic bishops left in the United States? Any Archbishops who don’t vote Republican? Surely they could have a word with Joe, if they haven’t done so already. Maybe it has to go all the way up to the Vatican. Surely Pope Francis could waive his non-interference rule and get tough with Joe, letting him know that the Lord is mighty pissed that he is putting the world through this torturous, interminable death watch on his candidacy.

If that doesn’t work, Lord help us.