President Biden recently referred to him as “the former guy.” The amusingly insightful columnist Gail Collins thought that this reference would get under his skin and has used the sobriquet “TFG” to needle him. I, however, have been mentally referring to him as the HBG–the “has been guy.” And because of his recent diatribe against Senator Mitch McConnell, I have been wondering whether the HBG has Jewish roots.
His McConnell statement followed the usual formula. First, the HBG praised himself with false claims (he “single-handedly saved at least 12 Senate seats” for the Republicans); whined about the performances of others to explain failures that might be ascribed to him (the Georgia Senate races were lost because of Georgians’ “anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its [sic] job on Election Integrity during the 2020 Presidential race”); and then launched into an ad hominem attack on McConnell (“a dour, unsmiling, political hack”). The HBG’s statement made me smile, but almost any attack on McConnell will do that. His statement was almost puckish, close to witty, but I had doubts about its source. Is “dour” in the HBG’s vocabulary? Luckily, we did not have to hear his stab at pronouncing it.
This is all the usual HBG stuff, but what really got my attention was another statement: “Likewise, McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings. He does nothing on this tremendous economic and military threat.” Senator Mitch is married to Elaine Chao, whose family owns a shipping company that transports goods to and from China and has gotten much of its financing from Chinese financial institutions. The Chao family is, you might say, entangled with China and that might be reason to wonder whether McConnell can be objective when it comes to relationships between China and the United States.
So the HBG seems to have a point, but perhaps he is not the one to be making it. He failed to mention that Elaine Chao was Secretary of Transportation in the just-ousted HBG administration—in fact, she was the longest serving of any of last term’s Cabinet secretaries. Transportation. That’s the business her family is in! If McConnell has no credibility on China because he is married to Elaine Chao, surely the credibility of the person who appointed and retained her in his Cabinet in a position that affected our relations with China should, therefore, also be suspect. After all, the Senate majority leader has little control over our China policies while the HBG sought to set them.
The HBG’s statement also reminded me of the classic definition of the Jewish concept of “chutzpah.” The defendant who has killed his parents comes before the court and begs for mercy because he is an orphan. It takes a lot of chutzpah to criticize McConnell for his wife’s family when you yourself have placed that woman in a position of trust and power concerning China. That leads me to the next question: Can you have such brazen chutzpah if you don’t have Jewish roots?
But these thoughts also made me wonder about labeling him the HBG as I have been doing for a while. Apparently the HBG wants us to believe that he actually recognized the “tremendous economic and military threat” that China posed, but we now learn that on his watch China became the EU’s largest trading partner. Whether his concern was economically sound or not, HBG voiced much anguish over our trade deficits in general, but now we learn that those deficits are larger at the end of the term than when he fluked into office. If there were any real plans to fix the trade deficits (doubtful), they did not work. But, of course, it was not just his trade policies that failed. His wall was neither built nor financed as he said it would be. His America First plan that was going to give us better infrastructure didn’t exist – witness the catastrophes of the snow and cold of the last few weeks. He promised something cheaper and better than Obamacare, but he never made a single health insurance proposal. And now we have learned that in the last year of his term, life expectancy in this country fell by a year. Covid-19 is only part of the reason for that. It is also because of a flawed healthcare system and the opioid crisis, which he said he would, but never did, address.
Welcome to the HBG’s America. As I thought about this, I realized he is not the Has Been Guy; he’s the Never Was Guy. He is the NWG.