The biggest single problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
– George Bernard Shaw
It was another working Saturday which found me at the Round Robin Bar after my final consultation ended at seven thirty in the evening. There, I saw Farquhar, a DC staffer for the Biden campaign and McLoon, who works at the Executive Office of the President. As might be expected, both of them were drinking scotch and engaged in a heated discussion. McLoon hailed me as I walked by with my Botanist and tonic.
“Collins!” he brayed. “Come over here and talk some sense into this jackass!”
“He’s a Democrat,” I reminded McLoon as I joined them at their table. “Being a jackass is their historical heritage.”
“He’s right,” Farquhar affirmed. “The Whigs, the political Neanderthals of the day back during the election of 1828, started calling the Democrats jackasses.” Pointedly, he leaned across the table and got in McLoon’s face. “But we Democrats had the courage to own it! And adopt a jackass as the emblem of our party!”
“Correct,” I concurred, “although I think you owe the Neanderthals an apology for comparing them to the Whigs. What are you two yelling at each other about now?”
“Ukraine, of course!” McLoon bellowed at me. “What else do you think?”
“You’re referring,” I presumed, “to the whistleblower complaint filed against the President alleging he pressured the leader of Ukraine to either find or make up some damaging dirt on Joe Biden?”
“Ha!” McLoon scoffed. “That’s nothing compared to what Biden and his son were up to!”
“They weren’t up to anything!” Farquhar protested. “Joe didn’t even know that Hunter was on the board of Bursima Holdings.”
“Didn’t know,” McLoon challenged, “that his son was getting paid fifty thousand dollars a month to attend some board meetings of a major Ukrainian natural gas company?”
“That’s right,” Farquhar insisted, “why should he have known?”
“Because,” McLoon pointed out, “he was Vice President of the United States of America and he had an obligation to know when members of his family are mixed up with international affairs!”
“Oh,” Farquhar snarked, “you mean, like when Trump’s daughter snapped up a bunch of trade mark deals in China while he and she were visiting there and she was working for the US government as part of his administration?”
“Are you saying Trump ever denied knowing about it?” McLoon shot back. “Because Biden did – and a person would have to be a complete fool to believe Biden didn’t know what his son was doing!”
“It’s a matter of record,” Farquhar superciliously sniffed back. “Joe Biden learned about his son’s position on the Bursima Holdings board the same place everyone else did – in the newspapers and on television.”
“Oh, sure,” McLoon nodded sarcastically, “and all those news reports gave detailed coverage to Hunter Biden’s extensive experience in natural gas, didn’t they? Come on, Farquhar, do you expect anyone to believe that a company incorporated in Cyprus by a bunch of Ukrainians to exploit gas reserves in the Carpathians, the Dnieper-Donets region and the Azov-Kuban Basin desperately needed the expertise of a lawyer from Delaware? Admit it – Hunter Biden knew nothing about natural gas resources, natural gas markets or natural gas technology when he was placed on the Bursima board of directors and he knows nothing about them now, either! His sole qualification for a place on the Bursima board was the same one that got him cushy, overpaid executive jobs at Eudora Global, Paradigm Advisors, and MBNA Bank – he is Joe Biden’s son!”
“Can you believe it Tom?” Farquhar implored as he pounded the table. “This from somebody who works for the biggest nepotist to occupy the White House since Warren G. Harding!”
“You have to admit,” I told McLoon, “he’s got a point. At least Biden didn’t hire his relatives to work for him in the Obama administration or appoint his sons to run his business while he was in office, or…”
“Make it obvious that the way to curry favor with him is to spend huge bucks at one of his hotels!” Farquhar interjected. “Whatever Biden may or may not have done, nothing in his behavior comes anywhere close to Trump pressuring Volodymyr Zelensky to come up with something to use against Biden in the 2020 election!”
“Except,” came McLoon’s blistering riposte, “using a billion dollars of US foreign aid to blackmail Petro Poroshenko into firing the Ukrainian Prosecutor General who was investigating Bursima Holdings!”
“Bullfeathers!” Farquhar insisted. “Everybody from the International Monetary Fund to the European Union knew Viktor Shokin was a corrupt, bribe-taking Russian mole and wanted him fired!”
“Road apples!” McLoon shot back. “Shokin was fired because he was investigating Hunter Biden and his father Joe threatened to abuse his power as Vice President and hold up a billion dollar loan that the Ukrainians desperately needed to stop a Russian-backed takeover – and what’s more, afterward, Biden went around bragging about what he had done as if the American public should consider him to be some kind of hero!”
“Come on, Tom, tell me,” Farquhar beseeched, “how could a reasonable person possibly compare a flimsy conspiracy plot like that to the bald-faced admission, by Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal attorney no less, that Trump contacted the president of Ukraine…”
“Fake news,” McLoon interrupted, “old news, too.”
“Old?” Farquhar bristled. “What happened in July is old news? And how can you call it fake when it was Giuliani who admitted, on television, that there were eight separate phone calls…”
“Giuliani never said eight phone calls!” McLoon yelped, waving his drink around for emphasis. “Get your facts straight!”
“Okay,” Farquhar relented, “a White House leak said eight phone calls. But Giuliani admitted contact with the Ukrainian government for purposes of suborning dirt on Biden, and whether that dirt was factually true or not didn’t matter to Donald Trump!”
“Giuliani was confused,” McLoon rationalized. “He gets that way sometimes. Chris Cuomo badgered him into saying it.”
“Rudolph Giuliani got confused and said something that isn’t true?” Farquhar huffed. “You’re saying that a former US Attorney, with decades of experience in questioning techniques, got badgered by Andrew Cuomo’s little brother...”
“Who happens to be an attorney too!” McLoon shouted.
“Hey guys,” I mentioned. “Can you keep it down to a dull roar? People are staring at you two.”
“Oh, oh… yeah,” McLoon murmured. “It’s just that this… this… Democrat has absolutely no problem with Joe Biden jerking around some Ukie politician to get his son out of hot water pertaining to an official investigation of an obviously shady Eastern European gas racket…”
“That’s not what happened!” Farquhar self-righteously proclaimed. “Viktor Shokin was the shady character! He was the crook, not Hunter Biden!”
“Okay,” McLoon smirked, “in that case, let’s just say Giuliani’s an idiot and Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. End of story. Big nothing-burger. Case closed.”
“And why,” Farquhar demanded, “would Donald Trump retain an idiot to be his personal attorney?”
“I donno,” said McLoon with a sly smile, “maybe he did it so he could watch liberals like you go bananas and tear your hair out every time Giuliani says something stupid.”
“You have to admit,” I cautioned Farquhar, “if that is, in fact, Trump’s strategy, it has been spectacularly successful.”
“It’s totally bogus, that’s what it is!” Farquhar roared. “Just like his strategy of false equivalence! It’s apples and oranges! There’s no comparison between the Vice President’s son having a job with some foreign company and the President of the United States making promises to leaders of foreign countries in return for dirt he can use in the 2020 election!”
“And no proof of any promises!” McLoon snapped. “And there won’t be any, either! And do you expect anyone to believe a son never talks to his father about what the son does for a living?”
“Not if the father is Vice President!” Farquhar indignantly declared. “People in positions like that know enough not to have that kind of conversation so as to avoid an appearance of impropriety!”
“An appearance?” McLoon chuckled. “It was an obvious conflict of interest! Face it, the Biden scandal is the end of the line for his candidacy!”
“There is no Biden scandal,” Farquhar objected. “And Biden’s going all the way to the White House! Trump’s been caught violating his oath of office, up to his neck in corruption, colluding with a foreign power to interfere with a US election…
“Show me the quid pro quo!” McLoon heckled. “No evidence!”
“It’s not legally necessary to prove a quid pro quo!” Farquhar hissed in McLoon’s face. “And what’s more, Trump is engaged in a cover-up, ordering the Inspector General to withhold testimony from Congress! And when the public realizes what Trump did and what his people are doing now to hide it, Biden’s going to beat him like a drum!”
“The hell you say!” McLoon replied. “Trump’s going to wax the Democrat candidate – whoever they are – like a linoleum floor!”
“Biden’s going to spank Trump like a naughty five-year-old!” Farquhar predicted.
“Trump’s going to smash the Democrat like a rotting Halloween pumpkin!” McLoon blustered.
“Biden’s going to smoke Trump like side of Virginia bacon!” Farquhar blasted back.
“Trump’s going to slice and dice the Democrat like a Veg-O-Matic!” McLoon sneered.
“Biden’s going to whip Trump like a bowl of cheap instant mashed potatoes!” Farquhar barked.
“Trump’s going to slit the Democrat up the gill like a gutted fish!” McLoon inveighed.
“Biden’s going to cream Trump like a pot of Olive Garden alfredo sauce!” Farquhar growled.
“Trump’s going to devour the Democrat like a thirty-piece bucket of fried chicken!” McLoon taunted.
“Um… Trump probably could, you know,” I observed. “Devour a thirty-piece bucket of fried chicken, that is. But what makes you both so sure the election’s going to be a blowout? Nothing anyone says about Biden will make Democrats vote for Trump, and nothing anyone says about Trump will make his supporters vote for anybody else. That just leaves the swing voters, and it’s doubtful either this business about Biden’s son or Trump’s demand for election dirt from the president of Ukraine will change their minds one way or the other.”
Farquhar and McLoon both gazed at me incredulously. “Why?” they both asked at virtually the same time.
“Because,” I explained, “it’s too complicated for them to comprehend. Do they even know – or much less, care – where Ukraine is, or who people like Petro Poroshenko, Volodymyr Zelensky or Viktor Shokin are? I mean, really, come on now – the Carpathians? The Dnieper-Donets region and the Azov-Kuban Basin? Cyprus? The International Monetary Fund, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Inspector General, natural gas resources, federal elections statutes, national security regulations, Congressional oversight prerogatives, presidential immunity, Supreme Court constitutional precedents, Ukrainian historical politics and the legal definition of an ‘urgent and credible’ complaint? The bottom line is, you guys have been inside the Beltway too long. You have completely forgotten that only people like you can understand what’s going on with this stuff. None of it is going to influence the way the swing voters will go in November 2020.”
Farquhar and McLoon quickly looked at each other with profoundly bewildered expressions, then turned them toward me. “It won’t?” they whispered, astounded.
“Absolutely not,” I assured them. “Neither Biden’s son’s sleazy exploitation of his father’s position nor Trump’s obvious illegal conduct with the president of the Ukraine will register with any significant portion of the only sector of the electorate that will matter in 2020 – the swing voters. Practically none of them have the necessary erudition, and most also lack the necessary mental capacity required to understand any of the salient issues, or even the important facts involved.”
“So,” Farquhar presumed, “You’re saying the swing voters are a bunch of pathetic ignoramuses?”
“I think he’s going farther than that,” McLoon extrapolated. “He’s saying they’re a bunch of clueless morons.”
“But you guys already knew that,” I chided. “Right? You did know that, didn’t you?”
“Yeah,” Farquhar reluctantly acknowledged with a heavy sigh, “We did. Just… I don’t know, exactly… kind of forgot about that…”
“In the heat of the moment,” McLoon muttered with a shrug. “We got carried away with the implications without realizing that they could only be meaningful to, um…”
“A very limited audience,” I interjected.
“Yeah,” Farquhar admitted. “Exactly. A far too limited audience to make any difference in a national election.”
“Tell you what,” I proposed. “How about I get us all another round of drinks and we talk about sports?”
Farquhar and McLoon nodded assent simultaneously. “Good idea,” they agreed.