Goodbye Donald Trump, Hello Joe Biden….
A presidency of pandemic and pandemonium....
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We are out-gunned
(Boom, boom, boom; boom, boom)
We gotta make an all-out stand
Hey yo, I'm gonna need a right-hand man
(Boom, boom, boom; boom, boom)
— some Broadway show
Who likes and thrives under pure chaos?
Donald Trump, the news media, Marjorie Taylor Greene, the extreme voices in both parties who profit off of madness and the near-universal lack of The Presumption of Grace.
Who does not like or thrive under this chaos?
It is one of the truest constants in understanding recent American presidential elections that the nation’s voters consistently turn to a new leader who is in some fundamental way the opposite of the previous occupant of the Oval Office.
So the thought was that replacement of the mayhem of the Trump administration and of Donald Trump himself by the soothing balm of Joe Biden would be welcome across the fruited plains.
But now we are in the midst of a run of pandemonium that is deeply unsettling.
Georgia and Michigan shootings; nationwide crime sprees; abortion rights under fundamental threat at the Supreme Court; Congress careening to end-of-year process disasters, while intra and inter party tensions on the Hill are gobsmacking; the Mexican border out of control (read this); Putin and Xi and Iran running wild; unsettling criminal trials that raise all sorts of troubling questions; scary inflation galloping unchecked; social media monopolies cyborg along, doing unfathomable damage to our values and children; Trump looms ever present, unvanquished; WIFI access disappearing without warning.
Fact: Joe Biden is president and everything seems to be spiraling out of control.
Question: Is this reality because Joe Biden’s supposed extraordinary normalness and brilliant management and leadership skills are simply no match for the sheer torque of crazy crazy crazy racing through our lives now?
Or were Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and others correct that even a fully engaged Joe Biden was not the person for the job, that his record as a senator and vice president suggests (because he’s more like Trump in more ways than the Biden family would want to acknowledge) that the chaos we see all around us now is at least partially (and not an insignificant amount) due to the fact that this is not a man who is equipped to turn bedlam into serenity?
It would take a silver-tongued genius with a deep understanding of the reasons for and extent of massive historical shifts in the geopolitical and cultural tectonic plates across the nation and world to fully address what’s going on – and restore order.
How would Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton (two cats who had a deep understanding of the massive historical shifts in the geopolitical and cultural tectonic plates across the nation and world occurring on their watches) be dealing with this current mix of madness?
Joe Biden comes from a bygone, pre-Brexit, pre-Trump era, in which a small cadre of mandarins were able to maintain the basic order and social compact, a world recently written about by a leading chronicler of the constant chaos, Matt Taibbi:
Prior to 2016, elite mouthpieces bragged about acting as gatekeepers to political power. Someone like then-ABC writer Mark Halperin could write boastful pieces about how a “Gang of 500” in Washington really decided the presidency. These were “campaign consultants, strategists, pollsters, pundits, and journalists who make up the modern-day political establishment,” as the New Yorker put it. When political debates were held, a handful of analysts on television told you who won. We, reporters, told you who was “electable” and who wasn’t, and people mostly listened, even if “electability” was a crock that mostly measured levels of corporate donor approval.
They call him “Mad” for a reason:
How does this movie end?
Only time will tell.
Never write off an incumbent president or the most powerful person in the world.
But also don’t underestimate the sheer power of chaos to stay in destructive motion until and unless acted on by a very strong, clever, and determined force.
Joe Biden likes to say that this is not your father’s Republican Party any more.
It also is not your mother’s presidency any more, either.
This is a new moment, a new office, and a new set of challenges – challenges that would test Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, and Truman.
Seems like it is just about time for another “Ron Klain” memo.
To be continued….
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