Biden Bans Public From Homecoming Rally

No ticket for you!

Keep out!

No Scranton peasants allowed!

On President Joe Biden’s shamelessly ballyhooed homecoming trip Tuesday to Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden banned the public from his rally in the heart of the city he lovingly calls his “hometown.”

While commoners pay more for milk and honey, Biden’s world is the land of silk and money

We the people need not apply.

Attendees who received an emailed invite to the event at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Hall groveled and preened like aging pheasants begging for attention at a royal petting zoo. None of the local lords and ladies seemed bothered when Biden pulled up the castle drawbridge, rejecting the unwashed masses Biden desperately needs to vote for him to win re-election in November.

Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France prior to the French Revolution who told the French riffraff to eat cake, would understand. So, too, could Biden decree, “Let them eat a Hank’s hoagie,” a starchy sandwich from Biden’s favorite Scranton shop smeared like extra mayo into his infantilized childhood memories.

White House bosses and state campaign officials credentialed me as a member of the local press, that increasingly nonaggressive First Amendment bastion upon which the populace depends for news and commentary. Scranton news media lost its adversarial bite a long time ago.

A toothless press is no press at all.

At almost 73, I might have been the oldest working journalist among a tightly-controlled sycophantic crowd that included a swarm of seemingly bored reporters representing global outlets who produced pablum reports. Still, these lackluster young clerks of fact and other dull news media types inspire me to keep the fire lit until the day I can no longer pay attention to details you won’t see anyone else report.

For example, who’s going to tell you Biden almost forgot Scranton Mayor Paige Gephardt Cognetti’s name? Within a minute or so of taking the stage, Biden’s memory went haywire, according to the official White House transcript of his speech.

“You know, thanks to the mayor, Paige C- — C- — excuse me, I’m going to — I was going to talk about the old mayor — Paige Cognetti, for that welcome.  And she’s been incredible.  She’s been with me all along the way,” Biden said.

Was Biden thinking of former Scranton Mayor Bill “C- — C- –” Courtright who’s into his fourth year of a seven-year federal prison sentence for conspiracy, bribery and extortion? Or was he thinking of Jimmy “C- — C- –” Connors, who does a far better job pushing his way onstage to sing “Johnny B. Goode” with whatever local band he can embarrass than he did making smart public policy as Scranton mayor.

Like convict Courtright, Connors wasn’t even in the audience. Later in the day Connors sat front row at another invitation-only private gathering at the Carpenters and Joiners Local Union 445 in South Scranton. Thank God he didn’t ask to sing.

But Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as the folky Scranton saying goes, how did Biden’s brain garble Cognetti for Courtright or Connors? Immersed in a wave of syrupy nostalgia, 81-year-old Biden goes through the motions like a melancholy octogenarian wallowing in the past while the present dissolves like a stale sugar cookie in hot milk before bedtime. Imagining the White House as a nursing home is unhealthy for America and other living things.

As I have for years, I did my best to get personal access to the president. All I asked was five minutes for a question or two. The campaign offered me Mayor Cognetti.

“Hi Stephen — unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be able to make an interview work today. Mayor Paige Cognetti will be on site at the event, and we can connect you with her,” wrote Biden Campaign Pennsylvania Press Secretary Allyson Bayless.

No thanks.

In response I asked Bayless why Biden has refused as president to grant an interview to any Scranton journalist and why the campaign excluded the public from the Scranton rally.

“Why did the campaign limit admission only to those with political connections?” I wrote.

Bayless ignored my questions.

What the Biden campaign brain trust should have organized as a welcoming return to his roots became a barbed no trespassing sign. Unless elite Democratic leaders and surrogates in Scranton and elsewhere across the country change their strategy, Biden’s fragile re-election bid will continue to teeter.

Even Mayor Cognetti willingly forsook people she was elected to represent, throwing them under the presidential limo for a chance to escort a doddering president going through his second childhood as he scrambled the real Scranton values he purports to uphold.

My grandfather emigrated here from Ireland, became an American citizen and dug anthracite coal underground as a miner for 45 years. My grandmother gave birth to 10 children in a little shingled house on Cedar Avenue. My father’s side of the family boasts four generations in this city, people who committed their lives to living and working here.  

I moved in, not out. of Scranton when I had the chance. I’ve lived here for almost 20 years, twice as long as Biden. Unlike him, I’m not from here.

I am here.

Because Biden so seriously disrespected the Scranton public he barred from his speech, I suggest he stay the hell out of my city unless and until he upholds the cherished legacy of countless hardworking people who deserve better than the insult the president dropped on them when he came to town.

Scranton belongs to us, not him.