When Biden speaks about the pandemic, when he implores Americans to do their part, when he speaks about losses, and about his determination to defeat the virus, there’s a striking earnestness in his demeanor. He promises to tell the truth. We’ve all learned to become cynical, skeptical of politicians, but Biden sounds, as he might say, like the real deal.
Listening to this brand-new President, watching what he has done so far, it’s impossible not to wonder how many lives would have been saved if the United States had had a reasonable, competent, stable president when the coronavirus struck. How many who died would be alive today?
That’s the short term. The longer term is more of a mystery. More of a risk. This is a grand experiment. Will growth become self-propelling, long lasting and smooth, or will the economy overheat and bring high inflation?
Contrary to the caricature his predecessor tried to paint, Biden has so far shown a mixture of pragmatism, idealism, and risk-taking. It’s very early, but he has already racked up quite a few successes.
“National unity,” he said, “isn’t just how politics and politicians vote in Washington…Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans.”
The pandemic is not over. Thousands of Americans are dying every week, tens of thousands still becoming ill every day. But, the trajectory now is a different one. The worst of the dystopian days is behind us.
History, Biden said, will record “we faced and overcame one of the toughest and darkest periods in this nation’s history. The darkest we’ve ever known.” But now, “there is light and hope of better days ahead. If we all do our part, this country will be vaccinated soon. Our economy will be on the mend. Our kids will be back in school.”
Although he had much to brag about, Biden did not come to praise himself. He came to ask for help, and to boost his country’s spirits.
“This country can do anything,” he declared, “hard things, big things, important things.” It’s early in his presidency, but he sounded believable.