Yet none of those people could have participated in this victorious week had it not been for President Biden. It was Biden who stuck to a center-left course to win the nomination; who embraced Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to unify the party; and who ran a disciplined campaign and performed admirably at two debates. It was Biden who delivered an uplifting inauguration address and strove to win over House and Senate Republicans — but remained determined to go “big.” And no one but Biden, whose personal losses make him the quintessential healing president, could have delivered such an empathetic, hopeful speech on Thursday.
Biden may have had the most impressive first 50 days of any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt — despite the rockiest transition since 2000 (thanks to the Republican insurrectionists). He refused to be distracted by his disgraced predecessor, by inane media questions or by right-wing memes.
Contrary to some cynical pundits, Biden was not “lucky” to win in 2020. He is not a gaffe machine; indeed, he is religiously on-message and often eloquent. He did not play it safe with his vice-presidential pick. He did not relent in his search for a Cabinet that is the most diverse in history. Far from milquetoast moderates, his Cabinet nominees are stocked with “firsts,” including the first openly gay Cabinet secretary, the first Native American, the first female treasury secretary and the first African American defense secretary. He has not wavered from his promise to allow the Justice Department to conduct investigations and prosecutions free from political interference. And while he has used executive orders on a range of issues, he has recognized that Congress must pass legislation on immigration, voting rights, gun safety and other contentious topics.
On the world stage, Biden has reasserted a sane internationalist policy. While coming up short on sanctioning Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the brutal murder of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, he has reconnected American values with foreign policy, robustly embraced alliances, signaled an end to subservience to Russia and tried to link foreign and domestic policy. Most critically, he hired consummate professionals for key national security posts. We are no longer the world’s laughingstock.
Could he have spent a few hundred billion less on the rescue plan? Probably (but with an unserious Republican Party offering a thoroughly inadequate plan, he had no reason to bargain against himself). Might he have come down harder on MBS? Yes. Could he have broken the pattern of using a waiver to hire a former general as defense secretary? Certainly.
All of these bumps along the way, however, should not distract us from recognizing the giant quality upgrade we have made in the Oval Office. It is long past time to stop underestimating Biden, knocking his political acumen or doubting his ability to connect with ordinary Americans above the din of nonsensical social and right-wing media. He has had one of the best launches in recent presidential memory.
We should not be blind to the tremendous challenges he faces and the likelihood for stumbles in the weeks and months ahead. That said, for a remarkable 50 days, we can say, well done, Mr. President.