Biden has been scandal-free. From the start, the Russia scandal loomed over the Trump presidency. The Kremlin had interfered in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign had extensive contacts with Russian emissaries. On March 20, 2017 — Day 60 — FBI Director James B. Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign. On May 9 — Day 110 — Trump fired Comey , leading to the appointment of a special counsel. Hard as the right may try, it hasn’t succeeded in generating any scandal for Biden — unless you’re an aficionado of impenetrable claims regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop. The 46th president doesn’t play fast and loose with the truth: The Post fact-checker counted only 67 false or misleading claims during Biden’s first 100 days compared with 511 for Trump in the same period.
Biden has picked well-qualified appointees who know what they are doing. Trump stocked his administration with relatives (Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump), far-right extremists (Stephen K. Bannon, Peter Navarro, Stephen Miller), lickspittles (CIA Director Mike Pompeo), clueless rich people (Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) and ethical disasters (Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, EPA chief Scott Pruitt). National security adviser Michael Flynn had to resign after just 24 days for lying to the FBI. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, has already served four times longer than Flynn. So far there isn’t a single clunker among Biden’s senior selections.
Biden is making real progress on the biggest issues facing America — the unemployment rate is declining while the number of vaccinations is skyrocketing. Oh, and the stock market has gone up more than twice as fast as it did under Trump, despite GOP predictions of doom. Biden has laid out an ambitious infrastructure plan — something that Trump never did despite years of promises. He has issued executive orders to limit gun violence instead of kowtowing to the gun lobby as Trump did. While Biden confronts real threats, Trump fixated on imaginary dangers such as caravans of Central American refugees and athletes kneeling during the national anthem — or on personal obsessions such as the size of his inauguration crowds and his TV ratings.
Biden is reasserting America’s international leadership. He reentered the Paris climate accord and put climate change back on the agenda. He has reassured democratic allies and pushed back against regimes in Moscow, Ankara and Riyadh that enjoyed a free ride under Trump. He is trying to reassemble the Iran nuclear deal that Trump foolishly exited. Trump, by contrast, trashed democratic allies and kowtowed to dictators. During his first 100 days alone, he called Canada’s trade policies a “disgrace” and erupted in a phone call with Australia’s prime minister, while praising Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Biden is turning down the temperature on our politics. Although Biden is obviously no fan of Trump, he does not go out of his way to trash his predecessor the way that Trump did with Barack Obama — “Bad (or sick) guy!” Nor does Biden attack the news media when they run stories he doesn’t like; no more accusations of “fake news.” Biden’s civility hasn’t ended polarization (78 percent of Republicans say they strongly disapprove of the way he has handled his job), but it has made it a lot harder for Republican politicians and the right-wing media to attack him. They have to make up Biden plans — claiming, most recently, that he wants to cut red meat consumption by 90 percent — because the actual Biden plans are so popular.
Biden hasn’t gotten everything right. In my view, his pullout from Afghanistan and his unwillingness to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership are unforced errors, his stimulus bill is larger than it needs to be, and his hesitancy to raise refugee admissions is dismaying. (I don’t hold it against him that he has struggled with a surge of asylum seekers at the southern border; no one else has done any better.)
But you have to give Biden credit: He is actually trying to do his job rather than simply drawing attention to himself. That is something we once could take for granted. Now we have to be grateful that we no longer have to wake up every day wondering what crazy, damn fool thing the president just said. As one voter told NBC News: “The best thing about Joe Biden is I don’t have to think about Joe Biden.” Amen.