The Invisible President

(REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz)

For more than a week now, the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic protests convulsing university campuses have been the biggest news story in the country.

The protests, in many cases abetted by university faculty, have put a national spotlight on the illiberalism and intellectual rot at the heart of American "higher" education and the DEI regime that makes it hum.

We’re not in the business of offering political advice to President Joe Biden, but it is hard to miss his absence from the situation. The New York Times calls him a "bystander," and the president has forsaken the bully pulpit for strongly worded statements meted out through various spokesmen. "The president believes that forcibly taking over a building on campus is absolutely the wrong approach," the spokesman, John F. Kirby, told reporters hours before officers cleared the hall. "That is not an example of peaceful protest."

Good to know. The chaos engulfing the campuses is but a first foretaste of the bitter cup which will be proffered to Biden at the Democratic convention this summer, when the same protesters, with degrees from the same "elite" institutions bring their "peaceful" protest tactics to Chicago intent on wreaking havoc.

Biden wants to blend into the curtains. In a mirror image of his approach to the Israel-Hamas war, Biden aims to straddle the unbridgeable divide between the lawless and the law abiding, the intolerant and the tolerant, the virtuous and the contemptible. "I condemn the anti-Semitic protests," he said late last month. "I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians and their—how they’re being… ." He didn’t finish the sentence.

Biden is, of course, not taking a strong stand because the left wing of his own party, already inflamed by his mealy-mouthed support for Israel, is actively participating in these protests. Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) dropped by to fist bump the Columbia campers. Biden can’t afford to alienate them further, and like Columbia’s president Minouche Shafik, will soon realize you can’t reason or negotiate with a mob.

The president’s choice is to act in the national interest and pay a political price or to continue to hide under his desk and be forced, like Shafik, to pay the same price later—with interest.