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The case for Joe Biden’s presidency has always turned on two things: experience and character.
Experience in politics has, in recent elections, been a mixed blessing. Unlike in things that really matter, like picking a plumber and electrician or someone to color your hair, all of them choices made better by experience, the outsider argument in politics has long carried more weight than it should. The problem many outsiders have when they come to Washington is that they don’t have a clue, and by the time they do, they are no longer the outsiders they ran as.
Biden ran as an insider, as someone who knew how to make Congress and Washington work, as opposed to someone who was going to “drain the swamp” and leave an empty riverbed. One of the frustrating things for a man who worked across the aisle in his many years in the Senate to get things done is how almost totally impossible that has become. The huge legislative victory that Biden won this week did not depend on a single Republican vote, which may help the Democrats in the midterm but doesn’t say a whole lot for the Republican Party or small-d democracy.
This victory was all about holding a fragile and ideologically disparate Democratic Party together as one. This victory was all about figuring out how to keep every single Democratic senator in the “yes” column. Getting Sen. Joe Manchin’s vote wasn’t easy. Senators are sovereigns of a sort on a vote like this. There must have been dozens of separate deals to hold the Democrats together. The Biden-Schumer team did that and more. They managed to rescue a bill that was considered dead just a few weeks ago and, literally working ‘round the clock, put together the Democratic coalition with zero margin for error.
Too bad about the latter. There was a time in this country when environmental protection was a bipartisan issue. It remains a bipartisan priority among younger voters. Indeed, the generation gap on the environment is between those who should have solved the problem (baby boomers, etc.) and those we’ve left holding the bag (our kids). For once, thanks to Joe and Chuck, two of the old-timers, we have an answer.
So tell me again why, after a victory like this, Democrats shouldn’t be embracing their president and supporting him for a second term.
There is only one reason, and that is age. But age is a personal thing, at least after a certain point. There are politicians years younger than Biden who frankly seem older. All presidents age, some rather dramatically. One notable thing about Biden: He is aging very well.
And he has proven, as if it needed to be shown, that experience matters, that even a pro like Joe took a while to put this thing together, and it nearly slipped away, and if that was true with the master senator in the White House, imagine how we might have fared without him.
Thank goodness for Joe Biden.
He will have to decide whether he has it in him for another term. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it is true, thought she had it in her, and sadly, she passed. But that doesn’t have to be the universal lesson. Her health picture was entirely different.
Biden understands what the choices are and what they involve, and after his performance of recent weeks, I trust him to make the right choice for himself, for the Democratic Party and for the country.
But if he wants it, this much I can say: He deserves it.