You might have noticed that Donald Trump — who made his name by literally splashing it across apartment blocks, hotels, airliners, steaks and pretty much anything else that could be sold — was not the humblest president in US history. He was forever boasting about how smart he was, awarding himself A grades for his often-questionable performance — for instance, on the pandemic — and boasting falsely that no president before him had achieved what he did.
Joe Biden is just the opposite. In a clear reaction to the Trump years, he’s made the presidency less noisy and attention-grabbing.
Of course, Biden knows what he’s doing. Making out that he’s just like any other American is good politics. He’s following a method that he’s long used on the campaign trail to burnish his ordinary Joe image. He’s using modesty as a political weapon, and the fact that he is not personally objectionable creates an aura of moderation even though some of his social policy plans are quite radical.
“The first time I walked downstairs and they played ‘Hail to the Chief,’ I wondered, ‘Where is he?’ No, you think I’m kidding. I’m not kidding.”
“It’s a great tune, but … you feel a little self-conscious,” the President added.
The Republican reversal on vaccines
Biden calls it the Republican Party’s altar call.
One of the top people in the House Republican leadership, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, took the plunge and went to TV to urge viewers to do the same after waiting months to get his dose. This came after some members of Scalise’s House caucus compared Biden to a Nazi because he sent teams into hard-hit states to plead with people to get the life-saving shots.
It’s always possible — though admittedly unfathomable in Washington — that people are simply, finally, doing the right thing. More likely, there’s a realization that it’s not good politics or business for the Republican Party or Fox to see its viewers getting sick and dying.
Almost all of the states with the lowest vaccination rates and highest new case numbers in a summer surge of Covid-19 fueled by the Delta variant are Republican-run. Hospitals all over Trump country are filling up. There are tales from doctors and nurses of patients pleading for vaccines on their death beds, when it is too late.