Joe Biden Has a Versailles Problem
VERSAILLES, Pennsylvania -- As if to emphasize that this river town of 1,200 has zero in common with the royalty that once ruled at the eponymous location outside Paris, royalty far removed from the concerns and the despair of its people, this Youghiogheny River town is pronounced in its own unique Appalachian way: Ver-sales.
That pronunciation also holds true for the towns of Versailles, Kentucky, as well as Versailles, Ohio. It has to do with the choppy way the early Scots settlers in all three of these towns tended to emphasize second syllables over the first. But one can imagine it also had a little bit to do with not having anything in common with the palace that, for centuries, symbolized a ruling class deeply out of sync with the rest of its nation.
The Versailles in Ohio is a charming and thriving little historic village. The one in Kentucky's bourbon country is the epicenter of American horse-breeding, and it has had robust population growth for 100 consecutive years.
The Versailles here in western Pennsylvania struggles.
Last week, President Joe Biden showed what it looks like when the ruling class loses all connection with the realities of the pain and stress of the people it serves. His White House shindig to celebrate his own economic accomplishments was an orgy of self-back-patting and bragging over the Inflation Reduction Act. Experts agree that it won't reduce inflation, and there was a bit of irony to the fact that stocks plunged (and with them many ordinary people's retirement savings) over terrible inflation news even as Biden was speaking.
The new inflation data showed a deeply troubling increase: Core inflation was 6.3% in August, up from 5.9% in July; the Dow plunged a staggering 1,200 points on the news that inflation had only barely slowed down to 8.3%.
"The future of America's bright and the promise of America is real. It is real!" Biden shouted, counting on the strength of his own assertion to overpower the reality.
It is not lost on average voters, for Biden or for Trump, that this administration is wildly out of touch with the crippling effects that inflation is having on their lives. Eggs are 40% more expensive than a year ago, coffee 18%, groceries generally 11%. You don't have to be a Republican to be unhappy with that.
Biden's tone-deafness continued the following day, which was spent in Michigan, lecturing people whose median income is $36,842 that they ought to buy an electric car to save money. In much of the Detroit area, the $62,900 Cadillac Lyriq EV that Biden drove as a stunt at his publicity event costs more than a three-bedroom, two-bath home with a detached garage.
Hours later, Biden traveled to Delaware to vote in his home state's primary, using a taxpayer-funded jet and motorcade to vote in person rather than casting an absentee ballot, as Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump had done when they were in office. It costs over $2,500 per minute to transport a sitting U.S. president.