Joe Biden

Occasionally, in my little corner of the universe, I have to make a decision, as yesterday, when Kathy sent a comment she had seen responding to a Heather Cox Richardson blog.  The comment was long and I include it as sent.  I also agree with it, but that is extraneous…I publish even items I disagree with.

So…special thanks to Kathy V, and to the commenter, Scott Krasner, and to Heather Cox Richardson who’s a prolific and outstanding blogger at Letters from an American (the link goes to her post which includes Scott’s comment).

Scott K:

I’ve seen many memes where Biden is smiling or laughing, usually with Obama, that imply he’s a fun loving prankster – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
However, since the election there’s been a sobriety or gravitas, or maybe it’s earnestness, in his addresses, and even press releases, that’s both striking and gripping. Why is this grabbing my attention?
“I value your expertise and I respect you, and I will have your back. This administration is going to empower you to do your jobs, not target or politicize you.”
One, Biden rarely uses the pronoun “I” unless he’s assuming responsibility. He doesn’t use it to focus on himself or to elevate his role or skills or knowledge above those of his staff, government employees, or the citizens of the US, not just his “followers.” Two, he doesn’t single out or denigrate individuals or organizations to blame for this lousy state of affairs, but offers a better vision by comparing where he wants to be against specific perceived failings that exist today. Three, he offers belief in, and respects the value of, both his nominees and all the people who come to work each day for the government, on behalf of all citizens AND residents of America. Four, his tone exudes belief and confidence in the hope and ability of collaboration to take on and resolve the challenges facing us. It’s not “us vs. them,” even in the face of recalcitrant Republican Senators and representatives. Five, there’s a resolve to make things happen. While he didn’t say “it’s my way or the highway” about his COVID relief proposal, he did make clear that he’d use whatever levers possible to pass this bill, even if he would’ve preferred a fully bipartisan effort. Six, he’s not castigating his political foes. When 10 GOP Senators asked to speak to him about a counterproposal, he accepted the request without any prior public condemnation. I’m sure he used a side by side comparison to evaluate each point of difference, and when deciding that their counter was insufficient to meet his goals, he didn’t call out that group as stupid or radical or lazy or do-nothings.
I could go on but the contrasts with Trump are clear. Compared to Trump’s wealth, arrogance, and hastily and performatively adopted “Christian family values” alliances with Evangelicals, Biden is more informed by the experiential difference of his humble origins, his personal losses, and his lifelong, but not outspoken, religious faith. Stylistically, Biden’s quiet resolve stands out against Trump’s bombastic threats. I’d characterize his approach to transition as “do no harm but take no shit.” There are times to appease and times to move ahead without worrying about his detractors. He seeks counsel from those who agree with him as well as those who differ, but when he makes a decision he’s politely but clearly saying “your opinion counts but your vote doesn’t.”
Look, Joe’s not an angel. He’s not a saint. He failed to stand up to Clarence Thomas’s racist card when Thomas declared his Supreme Court hearing as “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks” despite credible charges of sexual harassment. His mouth got ahead of him during the debate on the 1994 crime bill when he warned of “predators in the streets” and “lock the S.O.B.s up” in a tone eerily prescient of Trump’s 2015 announcement of his candidacy. And he courted well known and unrepentant racists like James Eastland and Strom Thurmond.
Does he regret those things deep down or only for the sake of political expedience? I don’t know, but they’ve not been consistent or current hallmarks of his public persona in the way that Marjorie Taylor Greene’s social media posts have been. There are few, if any, concerns about questionable moral or ethical actions. He’s not known as a liar or adulterer or megalomaniac.
In short (sorry, too late!), despite some human flaws, foibles, and failings, Biden doesn’t attempt to impose a vision of America predicated on isolation, xenophobia, and disdain for those without privilege. After almost five years of the alternative, it’s remarkable to hear the English language being used to unite instead of divide, and to call the nation to action on behalf of each other instead of for the white donor class. Welcome aboard, Joe, it’s time to kick some ass and reintroduce the better angels of America.

COMMENT from Dick:  “Joe’s not an angel.  He’s not a saint.”  Of course, he’s not.  First, he’s human.  Most importantly, though, he’s been in public office for, I think, 47 years, most of those as U.S. Senator, Vice-President, and now, President.  He’s long been in the most public of positions, having to deal, daily, which most of us mere mortals would gladly avoid.  It is inevitable that he will make decisions I wish he hadn’t – likely he’s already done such.  But he’s working to preside over the most unruly motley crew in the universe, and I’m glad he’s the person whose predecessor, Harry Truman (also previously a Senator and Vice-President) had the sign which said “The Buck Stops Here.”

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