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  • peter grose

Make a note

Updated: Mar 22


Make a note of today's date . . . 14 March 2021. It could go down in history as the day Joe Biden was at long last rumbled. Whatever else, it's the day he lost his biggest advantage. How do I know? I read it behind the headlines in that great journal of record and authority The New York Times.

Try it for yourself. These are the headlines in today's NYT. "Joe Biden Knew He Was Onto Something Long Before We Did" (an article about how Joe Biden long before he was elected hinted at plans for the huge stimulus package just passed); "17 Reasons to Let the Economic Optimism Begin"; "Small Piece of Stimulus Has Ambitious Aim of Saving Mothers' Lives"; "Ending the 'End of Welfare' As We Knew It". Or how about the headline on the front page of yesterday's Le Monde: "Biden boosts optimism after 50 days in the White House". I could go on.

Hang on a minute, you say. Isn't all this stuff in praise of Joe Biden? So how come it will cost him his biggest advantage? That, dear reader, is the irony of the situation: the headlines prove that 14 March 2021 was the day people stopped underestimating Joe Biden. The fact that he has been consistently underestimated has meant that he had an easier-than-expected time getting his stuff through Congress. Now we are seeing the real Joe Biden . . . a man both focussed and highly effective politically and maybe even with a dash of what George H.W.Bush called "the vision thing". People are starting to ponder in print and on TV whether we are seeing the emergence of not just a good president but possibly even a great president, right up there with FDR and Jack Kennedy, even George Washington and Abe Lincoln. I think the last two comparisons are a bit of a stretch, but he's certainly shaping up to be remembered in the same breath as the great heroes of 20th century American presidency. Meanwhile, the soft ride is over.

If you go back to all that was written about Joe Biden in the run up to the 2020 presidential election, you'll find judgements like "boring", "a hack", "dull", "second rate", not to mention "gaffe-prone" and "senile". There was even the previous nincompoop's nickname "Sleepy Joe".

It seems to me that the right comparison is with Harry Truman, who took over from FDR. Truman it was who pinned a notice in the Oval Office saying "the buck stops here". He is the author of the phrase: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." He lived up to both, firing the tiresome but politically well-connected General Douglas Macarthur when the general threatened to get out of hand in Korea. Before he took over after FDR's death, Truman was regularly underestimated and dismissed as a political lightweight. He proved the doubters wrong.

Joe Biden is even better. And now, sadly for him I'm afraid, that fact is out in the open.

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