Who had the over/under on the word “unity” in Joe Biden’s inauguration address?
Many, definitely Fox News’s Chris Wallace, heard all this talk of unity as a seminal moment in American politics. I heard it differently. I heard the New Guy trying to lay down a narrative; disagreement on issues, ideology and policy is welcome, bullshit name-calling and nonsense blather for the Big Show, not so much. If there is an apt analogy, I go with bringing a knife to a gun fight, and this speech was a bazooka.
There has been quite a bit of parsing of the 2020 election for the losing side, because the losers made it about them. And commenting on it, while banal and mostly foolish, was justified because it was legitimate news – not so much the lies about voter fraud, just the initial fallout from it, and that news led us to an insurrection and one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks in modern times. However, not to be forgotten in that whole mess – which was, in truth, part of the plan to make it about losers – Joseph R. Biden Jr. received more votes than any human who has run for president of the United States. Specifically, 81,283,485.
That is a lot of fucking votes.
Yet many Republicans, either for the Big Show to solidify political standing or lazy mob mentality, first ignored and then tried to disenfranchise those votes. But now they have to cast legislative votes to help Biden make D.C. move or not, and one thing the New Guy has over the previous one is that he is actual politician, and a very studied one at that. Burning bridges as an opening salvo for TV ratings and to rile the great unwashed might work fine in Hollywood or New York Real Estate, but what the New Guy knows is that regardless of the landscape, there is a political way forward. This, and not whatever that crazy shit that went on the past four years, is how things get done around here. Rhetoric used as a means to an end.
The results of this “plan” certainly remains to be seen; but make no mistake, the president’s inauguration speech was the opening paragraph in a political thesis he formulated long before January 20.
Now, I know this partisan bickering thing – always a feature of national politics – began to get really ugly during the Obama Administration. A major part of this was achieved through obstruction politics, the other part is that Obama was truly shitty at the hard knocks of negotiation, getting his hands dirty with meetings and interplay. He had, according to sources on both sides of the aisle, an overt disdain for congressional fisticuffs. Obama had only been a senator for five minutes when he ran for the highest office in the land. This is why he chose Joe Biden as a running mate, among the normal electoral concerns – older white guy with centrist ties to the Rust Belt. This is precisely why I thought Biden had the best chance to end our national nightmare, and guess what, he did.
Biden was Obama’s inside man for eight years. When no one would deal with the president, Old Joe was there to kick up the dirt of his three decades in the chamber. Any legislation accomplished during the 44th president’s two terms, especially the last one and a half when he coughed up the House and Senate, was mostly due to Biden. This is the guy who gave the “unity” speech; some of which was the obvious pivot from bleating asshole to old-world statesman, but the real underlying rhetoric told not a tale of the past, but one of the immediate future.
And as mentioned, it was all strategically planned out. The day before the inauguration, Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain made available to the White House press corps the four pillars of the incoming president’s agenda: Covid-19, Economy, Environment and Racial Equity. Let’s consider the breakdown: Crisis. Collateral Damage of Crisis. Long-Reaching Results of Crisis. Most Effected by Crisis.
A few minutes after the nifty “unity” speech, Biden went to work; signing seventeen executive orders to directly hit all these subjects. There was a cold, calculating myopia about it. Time to move on. New Guy.
On the second day, the Biden staff was appalled to learn that not only was a national vaccine roll-out a mess, but it was also non-existent. The previous administration did not have one. For the two months it could have been administered, and for the months leading up to it, only politics and then lying and whining about politics mattered. As thousands died and millions become infected by the worst pandemic in a century, the federal government, which has all of our money, tanked it.
Turns out my assessment that “the house was on fire, time to put it out first, and worry about where to put the furniture,” during the summer, was spot on.
So, I’m taking this prediction winning streak and letting it ride. I say, the New Guy puts to use the post-election goodwill to transform narrative (“unity”) into legislative manipulation. (Hey, look at that, a president with a positive approval rating!) Biden may have lost something off his fastball at age seventy-seven, but if he knows one thing, it is legislative manipulation. This is what his inauguration speech tells me and believe me, if Republicans want to stay relevant in congress, they had better know this: Merely saying legislation is socialist or that the opposition hates America or some dime-store nugget that excites talk radio is no longer going to cut it. Oh, they’ll try. It’s hard to break habits. But that is what is before them. It is the consequence of the election: eighty-one million said, “New Guy, please!”
Cult of Personality has literally left the building, and it has been replaced by the New Guy – wonky, stealthy, shrewdly effective, and always smiling that smile. Placate the left, challenge the right, the way of the politico.