The key to President Biden’s success so far is that “he’s getting stuff done,” said former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley in an interview I did with him last week.
*Editor's Note: This column first appeared in the March 24 edition of the Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.
The proof is in the polling. A Reuters poll on St. Patrick’s Day had Biden holding a whopping 59 percent support from Americans, a number 15 points or so higher than Donald Trump's mid-forties highest benchmark.
As O’Malley says, Biden has done it with a minimum of fuss. After the Trump years of savage personal vendettas and pandemic hysteria, the mute button has been pushed at the White House and the American people have begun to calm down a little.
Suddenly, 65 percent in a hugely divided country support Biden’s handling of the pandemic, while Biden's administration has increased the daily injection rate from one million to 2.5 million.
Biden’s ability to get stuff done reflects the American character. Like in World Wars I and II, we were late to the battle lines but once we got in full flow the organizational effort became a smooth-running, overpowering engine. All it needed was the right general in charge.
O’Malley says there was a huge underestimation of Biden, a point also made by Maureen Dowd, in her inimitable way, in her Sunday New York Times column.
When Biden was vice president, his Irish “hail fellow well met” style of backslapping and handshaking to make the next deal was looked down upon by the inside clique around President Obama.
Biden looked like a throwback to James Michael Curley, the mayor of Boston who wheeled and dealed every opponent into a blind corner.
Obama supporters, on the other hand, felt that he had been ordained for a special mission by the Lord himself and they were the chosen few. We are the people we have been waiting for – remember that?
As Dowd points out, Obama hated to get his hands dirty by actually chasing votes and twisting arms. He flailed around for months to try and get Republicans to move with him on Obamacare. He was convinced that moral pressure would force Republicans to come around which was a hopeless endeavor.
Now in this new era Biden, the old-style pol whose time had allegedly passed, is suddenly the man of the hour, the former rough beast transformed into a deeply driven, incredibly focused political leader who can get important stuff done.
As Dowd wrote, “President Biden is being hailed as a transformational, once-in-a-generation progressive champion, with comparisons to LBJ and FDR aplenty, while Obama has become a cautionary tale about what happens when Democrats get the keys to the car but don’t put their foot on the gas.”
Biden is being enormously helped by the giddy love-bombing of the worst president in U.S. history by the leaders of the GOP. The Republican Party has become a witch’s brew of QAnon fanatics, right-wing militia supporters, dead-end Trump supporters, and a small sliver of normal folk still prepared to take their job seriously.
When asked to choose between reality and fantasy, they are picking fantasy every time. They actually believe the people will accept their frenzied jabs about transgender Mr. Potato Head as political policy that has the remotest resonance for Americans in real life.
Biden is still in his honeymoon period. There are many miles to go, immigration at the border is already causing severe headaches to his administration, the pandemic must be beaten back once and for all, but it has been a bright start. Long may it continue.
What we have learned is that you need training and historical perspective and years in the arena, none of which Trump had, to govern successfully.
Biden knows this and is focused on just getting stuff done. So far it is working remarkably.