AuthorLueders, Bill

In a talk he gave between the election and the Inauguration, Joe Biden thanked health-care workers on the front lines of COVID-19. He empathized with families who have lost loved ones, as well as the many others "who have fallen on hard times, through no fault of your own."

Biden gave some straight talk about the pandemic and what the nation must do about it. He predicted-accurately, it turns out-that "our darkest days in the battle against COVID are ahead of us, not behind us." He urged everyone to "mask up, stay socially distanced, avoid large gatherings, particularly inside," as a good leader should. He said he expected Democrats and Republicans would work together to get the nation vaccinated and address the suffering of people in need.

Welcome to the Biden era. It's so nice to be here. What a relief it is to hear decency and coherence from the nation's chief executive. Around this same time, the defeated Donald Trump was raging like a mad King Lear, seriously discussing whether he should declare martial law, trying to coerce state elections officials into criminal conduct, and actively plotting and encouraging an assault on the Capitol. The violence and division he has fomented will burn long after his reign. His casual incompetence has cost tens of thousands of lives, and his infectious disregard for truth will poison the nation's politics for decades.

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is, by all appearances, a different story. The nation's forty-sixth President is not a lunatic. He is not a despicable human being. That this should be a cause for celebration shows how far the bar's been lowered.

But there is something else that Biden is not: a true progressive. He is a mainstream corporate Democrat with a commitment to compromise. As a U.S. Senator and Vice President under Barack Obama, he was something of a hawk. While he opposed funding for the Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s and voted against the first Gulf War in 1991, Biden supported the war in Afghanistan, the disastrous U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, at least initially, and even put in a good word for Britain's 1982 war in the Falkland Islands.

As a candidate, Biden assured wealthy donors that "nothing would fundamentally change" if he were elected. When Biden was attacked for suggesting he would end the earth-scarring excavation of fossil fuels known as fracking, his running mate, Kamala Harris, pointedly set the record straight: "Joe Biden will not end fracking, he has been very...

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