The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Joe Biden knows a glorious epiphany is coming

He can almost see it! (Matthew Putney/AP)

“With Trump gone, you’re going to begin to see things change. Because these folks know better. They know this isn’t what they’re supposed to be doing.”

— Joe Biden, in Washington on Monday

“I just think there is a way, and the thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House — not a joke — you will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends. And it’s already beginning. In the House now, you’ve seen people that in fact were not willing to vote for any Democratic initiative, even if they agreed with it, because they didn’t want to be the odd person out if it wasn’t going to pass. There’s no sense in getting politically beaten for something that’s not going to happen. But you are seeing the talk, even the dialogue is changing.”

— Biden, on the campaign trail last month in New Hampshire

Eight years in the Obama White House, spent watching Mitch McConnell knock every legislative initiative off the agenda — deliberately, and making eye contact, like a bored cat dispatching vases from a mantelpiece — have taught me something, and that something is that Republicans know better and are just raring to work in a bipartisan manner. Why, during that terrible business about Merrick Garland, I spoke to fully 12 of them, and they all, personally, to me, expressed dismay! So I think that speaks for itself.

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Believe me, things are going to be different.

We will see a great change come over my congressional colleagues. They will turn back into human beings and stop being stopped clocks. They have been waiting for someone to reach across the aisle and reawaken them, and there is just enough time. The petals have not entirely fallen from the rose in the West Wing.

There is a logical explanation for all of this. They have been forced to be silent and not object; they have been waiting for their sisters to knit them thistledown sweaters so they could stop being ducks (lame or otherwise) and become humans again.

Former vice president Joe Biden must prove that he isn't a politician of a different era. (Video: Danielle Kunitz, Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

I will recover them all. Recalled to life, they will be afraid of nothing. All I have to do is point out that they know better and we are going to start seeing some changes around here.

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Why, Mitch and all them are going to be pretty embarrassed, I think, when they realize that their stated values and their actions do not line up. And when those conflicting forces get pointed out to them, I am pretty sure which one is going to give way. I have heard them privately and publicly express the desire to cooperate on issues of bipartisan importance, if only some would be presented to them. Boy, when they realize that the president’s wanton disregard for congressional subpoenas is an issue they could get bipartisanly behind, they are going to feel embarrassed! I bet they will turn purple with shame. And with bipartisanship.

Their regret at their own actions is obviously real. People’s quietly expressed, off-the-record regrets are the best indication of how they will act, publicly, in the next setting that requires courage. I am especially excited to see Mitch postpone the nomination of any further justices on the grounds that an election is coming soon, as this is obviously a matter of principle with him. I have always depended upon the kindness of Republicans.

Yes, once Trump is gone, a switch will flip. Republicans will look around, stunned, and scales will drop from their eyes. The good news about President Trump is that he is not chomping away at institutions already undermined by the self-serving actions of others. There was nothing in Republicans already that found its natural expression in Trump, and the people enabling the president in Congress are simply under his malign spell. He is a weird and unpleasant surprise, and soon America will again be humming along — just as it was for most, I think, if not absolutely all, of its history.

I will not even need to obtain any magical stones. Already, I have all the stones I need. I will open a big closet full of spines and restore them to their previous owners. They will stop being snails and amphibians and become collegial and charming. After all, they know better.

All I need to do is awaken this slumbering GOP with a kiss of bipartisanship. It’s time for a wake-up call. And I am certain of who needs it.

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