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Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Biden was presented with the opportunity to be and act Presidential, meaning that he had the chance to demonstrate that he has the capability to lead all of the United States of America, rather than just advancing the interests of his particular faction at the expense of his political enemies.
He failed, miserably so.
In Mr. Biden’s public statements regarding the rioting in Washington DC on January 6, (WSJ) he might have used the occasion to reach out to all of those Americans who both voted against him, (47% of the general population according to AP), as well as the 80 % of Republicans and 45% of independents who believe that the 2020 election was compromised (WSJ) and who are also rightly and justly appalled by the lawless behavior of the mob in D.C. He might have said something like this:
- “To all my fellow Americans, Conservatives and Liberals alike, let us all speak with one voice that political violence and rioting is abhorrent, and we as a people must not tolerate it, whether it is executed by those on the Left or those on the Right.”
- “To my fellow citizens who did not vote for me, let me say that I recognize many of you have doubts about the faithfulness of our electoral process, and now suspect that your votes don’t count. Without endorsing such a view, I acknowledge that your concerns may be expressed in good faith. I will work with the incoming Congress to address these concerns, and restore your faith in our electoral processes.”
- “To those of my own political party, and others supportive of my electoral success, I ask you now to set aside your heated passions, and the desires you have for score-settling, no matter how justified you may believe them to be. Our success as a nation has been the result of our willingness to find common ground and compromise.”
What would it have cost Mr. Biden to say these words, or some similar statements? Absolutely nothing. To denounce rioting and unlawful behavior is as easy as saying, “I’m in favor of domestic tranquillity.” To acknowledge the reality that a significant minority (perhaps a majority) of Americans have doubts about the validity of the recent election is nothing more that recognizing that an empirical fact exists (something that the “Party of Science” ought to find easy to support.) The offer to work with Congress? It’s unenforcible, other than as a potential broken promise that might be remembered in four years’ time. But it signals to the Country that Mr. Biden knows it’s an issue, and he’s brave enough to say so. Lastly, by cautioning his own side against attempts to exact vengeance upon those whom they hate, he suggests to the country that he intends to be “President to all America”. Likewise, such a signal costs him nothing; he has no power to prevent Congress from taking such step other than to refuse to sign whatever enabling legislation that reaches his desk.
What would Mr. Biden have gained by saying such things? It would have immediately affirmed the idea that he is capable of advancing the country beyond the partisan rancor of the last sixteen years. He might have reminded and reassured an increasingly anxious nation that it continues to have a shared common identity. He might have spoken truth to POWER (that of his own political base that includes the Administrative State, the media, the educational bureaucracy, and all cultural outlets) and shown he is not the caricature of “Sleepy Ol’ Joe” he appears to be.
Mr. Biden said none of these things. In his failure, the president-Elect missed a golden opportunity to do good, do what is right, and start healing the country. Is he capable of recognizing when he has such chances, or does he even care?Published in