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Joe Frigging Biden!

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Biden is blowing my mind. His leftward turn was unpredictable, but it sure is welcome. I’m not sure what I expected. Even though he’d been around forever, he didn’t stand for much, beyond a vague centrist-liberalism. His reputation as a nice guy was refreshing, but on the other hand, he lacked charisma. I voted for him, not only because he was a Democrat, but because the other guy was so hideous.

I suppose Biden could have been content to offer up little things on becoming president. He could have spread balm over the party’s internal cracks, and been a calming presence to voters after four years of pain and instability. That would have been enough to let him glide through his first term, and when he announced his retirement in 2022, at the age of 82, he would have been saluted as a Great Peacemaker, sort of like Gerald Ford was after the Nixon debacle.

But surprise! Biden’s inner FDR busted out, and look at the result:

Transgender rights

COVID vaccine

$1.9 trillion relief

$2.3 trillion infrastructure

Cabinet that looks like America

Rejoining Paris accords

Renewed fight against climate change

Raising taxes on the rich and giant corporations

Changing the filibuster

Politeness and dignity, instead of insults and lies

Well, that’s quite a list! All things that the most liberal of Democrats can get behind—not to mention a majority of the American people. Of course, there are things Biden has so far not acted upon: gun control, for instance. But that is encompassed within “changing the filibuster.” I would prefer to see the damned filibuster ended altogether, but with Sinema and Manchin, that’s not possible. At least by making it an old-fashioned, Jimmy Stewart “stand and talk” filibuster, it might be harder for do-nothing Republicans to haul it out every time Democrats want to actually do something good for the people. A few Republicans, notably Auntie Lindsay Graham, have said (I paraphrase) they’ll talk until hell freezes over, a prospect that must be giving CSPAN lovers heart attacks. Well, let him. He’s made a fool of himself before.

But back to Biden. Who knew the old man had it in him? To roll out this bold set of plans, to so publicly undo the damage his predecessor caused, to be so visionary… My fondest hope now is that Biden’s health holds up. His polls are very good, the best any president has enjoyed in years, and while there’s widespread sentiment Republicans will do well in the 2022 off-year elections, my own barometer suggests that’s not necessarily so. As COVID fades away, as the unemployment rate drops precipitously as it has been doing, as Americans start seeing, or at least hearing about, their bridges, reservoirs, roads and transit systems being upgraded to 21st century standards, even voters in red states might say, “You know what? That Biden’s not so bad. And it sure would be nice to have that overpass on I-20 rebuilt.” If a truly awful Republican starts to emerge as a contender for the 2024 presidential—Donald Trump, Jr., say, or the even more reprehensible Cruz–that could further cast Biden (and Democrats) in stark relief as the party that actually gets things done, rather than merely screaming and dividing.

Biden recently said he’ll run again in 2024, but I think that has to be taken with a grain of salt. That means all eyes are casting about for his Democratic successor. Kamala Harris is, I suppose, the heir-in-waiting, but she’s not a done deal. Don’t dismiss Gavin Newsom. Yes, he’s undergoing his own ordeal right now with the Republican recall in California, but I guarantee you—write this down—he’ll win that by double digits, thereby emerging stronger than ever. And a strong, telegenic Governor of California, who just handed Republicans their asses, must always be a contender for any open presidential race.

Anyway, politics never fades away, it just gets more complicated and interesting. The focus now, I think, is the Infrastructure bill. If Biden can get one out of the Senate (even if it’s not the full $2.3 trillion), he’ll go down in history as one of the most consequential presidents in modern history. This could be the start of a Democratic era in which we finally see the Republican Party revert to its old moderate-centrist wing (a la Rockefeller and Ford), leaving the evangelical-social warfare-hardcore white supremacists swinging in the wind, where they belong.

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