Source: William Campenni
Joe Biden claims Scranton nativity (true) and Scranton values (not true). A recent Biden campaign commercial shows the empty bedroom in his Scranton childhood home. That emptiness is a veritable vignette because Biden booked out of Scranton at age 10 when his family moved to Delaware. The Scranton from which boy Biden decamped was still a fairly prosperous area. The postwar boom was ongoing, the anthracite mines were busy, education was quality, manufacturing was booming — coal, textiles, coffins, tank turrets, railroads, cabling — a very busy place.
It was not a bad place to be. I know. I was born and raised in the Scranton area, contemporary to Joe Biden, if a couple of years older. Neighbors looked out for one another in unlocked homes. I spent six years in Scranton schools. My family populates the local cemeteries (but they don’t vote — they were mostly Republicans). I’m sure my skin patches still season the soil of those black culm dust ballfields. My generational and follow-on relatives still live there.
It was a true melting pot of ethnics, mostly Catholic, quite a few Jews, and a scattering of WASPs. If your name didn’t end in a vowel or a z, or start with an O’ or Mc, you were suspect.
Unfortunately, the Scranton and surrounding Northeastern Pennsylvania area of 1953 were entering a depression, a decline long before even the Rust Belt cities started oxidizing. The mines were closing as oil, gas, and nuclear replaced coal, soon to be wiped out entirely by a catastrophic flood. Unlike Joe’s prospering family in Delaware, the dads in the anthracite valleys were losing their jobs. The dress factories that were priced out of New York’s Seventh Avenue found a temporary home in the area, but the breadwinners were now the moms in the factories. Ex-Scranton Joe’s dad never felt the ignominy that condition inured. Soon that dress factory lifeline moved on to greener, union-free pastures in the South, and then to Mexico, thence Asia, its current home.
Joe’s peers and contemporaries who stayed in Scranton also served in the military, defending America in much larger percentages than the rest of the country. Not Joe, the football hero and conqueror of Cornpop. He suddenly developed asthma and made 4F after running out the student deferments. But he obviously recovered so that he can challenge Trump and the occasional heckler he encounters to fisticuffs.
So, sorry, Blue Collar Joe from Scranton, who has never had a real job in his life, never experienced what it was like for the rest of us in the valley. He was long gone.
But the Scranton Joe story is more than Joe’s fake claims and cultural appropriation.
Mindful of Hillary Clinton’s Pennsylvania debacle, who also tried to channel Scranton roots (specifically, her summers on nearby Lake Winola where stood the summer cottages of the region’s doctors and lawyers and her well-to-do father), Biden will try to exploit his tenuous ties to the region to win back Pennsylvania.
Pundits and anchors will in the coming weeks lecture us on how Biden stirs up the voters in his native land, and how they love him and will back their favorite son. Interviews will be televised from neighborhood beer gardens (that’s ’50’s coal speak) of the enthusiasm for Good Ole Joe. Pennsylvania will be back on the Democrat reservation with our Scranton Joe.
But will it?
It would be helpful to look at what the past electoral history has been in Biden’s birthright domain, specifically Scranton and its surrounding Lackawanna County. For decades, Scranton and environs have been huge Democrat strongholds. The affinity dates back to the days of union dominance by the United Mine Workers when coal was king and John L. Lewis god. It’s government, mayor, county commissioners, are always Democrats, save when the not-so-infrequent corruption scandals force the people to seek a rare Republican respite. Its newspapers are a monotone of Democrat-slanted news, editorials, and op-eds.
Election days in my past were always an entertainment when I walked through Courthouse Square on the way from school to see the Democrat ward heelers round up the bums and derelicts to vote in exchange for a shot and a beer. Sad to say, it was also the norm in some Pennsylvania Republican areas, but the Democrats were so much better at it.
Remember, the man from Delaware had never been on a Scranton ballot until he ran for vice-president with Obama, so let’s look at his Pennsylvania record.
In 2008 against McCain, a feckless RINO, the Biden/Obama ticket won Lackawanna County and Scranton by a huge margin, 67,112 to 39,198, or 26%. After four years of a Biden/Obama presidency and a disastrous track record, the same ticket with Scranton Joe won against an even more feckless RINO named Romney, but this time they garnered fewer votes, 61,309.
Four years later, when those voters looked back on eight years of the Biden/Obama misrule, and even with another faux Scrantonian named Clinton heading the ticket for a third Biden/Obama term, these voters had enough of native son Joe and his party’s record. The Democrat vote total in 2016, in heavily Democrat Scranton and Lackawanna County, was only 51,593, a barely winning plunge from a 26% margin to 4% after eight Biden/Obama years. Not a great endorsement for a native son and a native daughter.
Additionally, adjacent and historically Democratic Luzerne County, part of the same Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area, treated neighbors Joe and Hillary even worse. That county went from a comfortable 8% Obama/Biden victory to a humiliating 20% Trump crushing of the girl next door.
Let’s get back to Joe and his acclaimed “Scranton values.” When Biden was selling his soul to be Obama’s amanuensis in the 2008 campaign, he never raised his voice or objected to Obama’s closed-door diatribe against Scranton Joe’s roots:
You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them… They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Guns? Religion? Anti-immigrant?
Joe, who never suited up for the first day of deer season, or marched in the St. Ann’s Novena pilgrimage, or hung around much with the immigrant community of Poles, Lithuanians, Italians, and Slovaks whose child labor roots made up the majority of the coal field population, said not a word to condemn Obama’s slander of his own roots.
Nor did Biden ever refute his boss Obama, his Democrat colleagues, and his media propagandists when they insulted the education and intelligence of those Trump voters in his native land. Maybe Biden didn’t learn it in Delaware schools, but everybody I grew up with in Scranton and environs knew there were only 50 states (48 then), that Viennese spoke German not Austrian, that the Marine Corps was not a corpse. Given his recent commentaries, Biden apparently shares his mentor’s ignorance.
If Joe has any current connection to Scranton it might be for a role in the bizarro cast of “The Office.” He wouldn’t measure up to Michael’s executive skills, but he would be a good fit as a character in the pool of dithering incompetence in Scranton’s fictional Dunder-Mifflin office.
Yep, Joe Biden may claim a Scranton cachet in a desperate attempt to win a critical state he had forsaken sixty plus years ago, but those gun-toting, churchgoing coal crackers hain’t da amadans Joe and his Democrat enablers and fawning media portray them to be. More probable, like with Illinois Hillary, they’ll send Delaware Joe’s presidential dreams to da corpse house.
William Campenni is a retired engineer and Air Force fighter pilot who writes on things that bug him.