PRESIDENT BIDEN IS KEEPING HIS PROMISES

Image courtesy of hsb wikimedia.org.

I don’t think it’s too early to give a shoutout to our new President for seizing the initiative on important issues that he stressed in his campaign. He started off with a dizzying flourish of Executive Orders, which are cited here.

He’s working tirelessly and smartly to demonstrate to the Republicans in Congress how popular his $1.9 trillion Covid assistance package is by going directly to the people.

He’s met with mayors and governors who are desperate for help from the federal government. Tuesday night, he went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for his first town hall as President, answering questions from the public in great detail.

Some polls are now showing that 75% of the public support this bill.

His rapid declaration of emergency for Texas, hit so hard by storms, won the immediate thanks of its highly partisan Republican governor, Greg Abbott, who just happens to be suing the Biden administration over climate issues (and has badly managed the state in so many ways).

Remember when he said during the campaign that he’ll work just as hard for those who didn’t vote for him as he will for those who did? There’s a promise kept.

One would hope that it becomes more difficult to view Biden as a negative force when he’s helping you in a crisis, though I have little expectation that Abbott et al will change their approaches.

There have also been some substantive demonstrations of the return to integrity and decency in government—such a welcome and refreshing aspect of the new administration. Here are a couple of examples.

INDEPENDENCE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

What he said (in introducing his nominees):

“I want to be clear to those who lead this department who you will serve: You won’t work for me. You are not the president’s or vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me: it’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation.”

What he did:

It is the President’s prerogative to fire all US attorneys; it’s not unusual for newly elected Presidents to want to place their own choices in these important positions.

And it is certainly understandable, even essential, that he do so, in view of the questionable legal, ethical, and hyperpartisan backgrounds of most of the people placed by his predecessor.

But our new President didn’t fire all the US attorneys. He left in place the federal prosecutor whom Trump had hired to investigate Hunter Biden, the President’s son.

Similarly, he is not interfering with the ongoing scrutiny of the FBI’s investigation of his predecessor’s campaign in 2016—when Biden was still the VP.

It’s hard to imagine that both investigations by Trump’s team were anything other than politically motivated. Thus, I find Biden’s refusal to end them extremely impressive.

And so does Glenn Kirschner, a former assistant US attorney whom I have cited before. Kirschner has a series of commentaries under the rubric “Justice Matters.”

In a recent podcast, Kirschner confirmed that it was a good thing that Biden had asked for nearly all of the US attorneys’ resignations because Trump and Bill Barr “were not known for picking the best and the brightest and the most honest and ethical and law abiding US attorneys; you know, people who fought to do favors for Roger Stone and Mike Flynn and others.”

Kirschner then described what he called the “inspirational part”:

“And Joe Biden, our president, said ‘I will not interfere with these two investigations by removing those two US attorneys. I don’t even want to give the appearance of interference in those two investigations, so those US attorneys will be allowed to continue.’

Noted Kirschner:

“This is the government we want, this is the government we the people deserve. Joe Biden making decisions based on what is fair, just, honorable, not just politically expedient or in his or his son’s self-interest. This is the kind of government that gives me patriotic goosebumps, and they’re not always easy to raise on me.”

SETTING HIGH STANDARDS FOR DECENCY AND CIVILITY

What he said (in swearing in more than 500 political appointees):

“If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise I will fire you on the spot. Everybody, everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity.”

What his administration did:

This is a little tricky because the bad behavior didn’t quite lead to firing “on the spot.”
T.J. Ducklo, a deputy White House press secretary, had reportedly verbally attacked a Politico reporter, Tara Palmeri, who had contacted him about his relationship with a reporter for Axios.

Vanity Fair then reported that Ducklo told Palmeri he would “destroy” her if she published an article about the relationship. He accused her of being jealous and used vulgar language.

The administration’s immediate response was to suspend him for one week. Ducklo called Palmeri to apologize and sent her a note. Press secretary Jen Psaki stated that Ducklo would have no contact with Politico reporters.

But when other reporters pursued the matter, Ducklo resigned one day later, expressing profuse apologies all around.

Why wasn’t he fired on the spot? Clearly, the Biden administration’s position about respect and decency was intended to be modeling for behavior not just toward colleagues, but toward everyone. And members of the press, who were so terribly verbally abused during the previous administration, deserved reassurance.

I’m conjecturing here, but it’s possible the administration was offering the 32-year-old Ducklo a second chance because he has stage 4 lung cancer, though his disease is apparently stabilized. I can imagine it was difficult for those making the decision not to take that fact into consideration. Bad behavior should not be tolerated, nevertheless, so Ducklo was permitted to resign, rather than be fired.

On balance, I’m extremely impressed by the Biden administration’s actions to date. Though there’s now widespread, understandable, mistrust of polls, I think it’s worth noting that with all the focus on the impeachment trial, some polls showing strong approval ratings for Biden have received little notice.

A CNBC All-America Economic Survey, for example, showed him with 62% approval—higher than initial ratings for Obama, Bush, Clinton—and 18 points higher than Trump. Fivethirtyeight carried a Morning Consult poll from February 14-15 that also found 62% approval. [Fivethirtyeight’s aggregate is 54.8% approve, similar to both Bushes and Clinton, lower than Obama (63.9%) and more than 10 points higher than Trump (44.5%)].

The President is getting high marks for his Covid plans and for unifying the country.

In view of the extraordinary polarization we’re experiencing right now, with a large percentage of Republicans still refusing to acknowledge that Biden won the election, I find those results—well, extraordinary.

As one commentator observed, at this point, it’s amazing that Biden’s getting any honeymoon at all.

How do you think he’s doing? Which of his actions or plans either please or displease you the most?

Annie

40 thoughts on “PRESIDENT BIDEN IS KEEPING HIS PROMISES

  1. Relief. That’s my main reaction since his inauguration, temporarily displaced by an overwhelming sense of disgust during the impeachment trial, but once again focused on our new president, his staff, his actions, his words, the tenor and tone of things . . . relief. Thanks for detailing some of the specifics — what he said, what he did. It’s nice to see it pulled together and I expect this list will grow as befits a man of integrity. Hear me sighing? That’s the sound of relief, the exhale of a breath too long held.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I strongly agree, even though I wasn’t familiar with all the details you bring out here.

    The Ducklo case sounds a bit murky, but your interpretation seems reasonable. Allowing the Hunter Biden investigations to continue shows, aside from integrity, a lot of confidence that there’s nothing to be found.

    The most important thing right now, of course, is the covid-19 relief bill. I’m very encouraged that he seems willing to fight to get the whole package passed — speaking up again for the minimum-wage increase, for example, even though Manchin is against it. The strong public support has to count for something. I’ve heard that even some Republican senators have been hearing from Republican officials in their states pushing for the bill.

    As I anticipated all along, Biden did learn from his time as Obama’s VP. He’s made it clear that he’s not going to fall for the same old Republican trick of dragging out negotiations endlessly and then still obstructing whatever results from it. He want them aboard, but the train is leaving on time regardless.

    I saw an announcement that the government now has enough covid-19 vaccine for the entire population — remarkably fast compared with the floundering of the Trump regime. Now it’s just a matter of getting it distributed and used, a massive logistical task, but Americans are supposed to be good at things like that.

    Overall its an extremely strong start. It’s hard to believe he hasn’t even been in office a full month yet (it will be one month this Saturday).

    Of course the wingnut blogs and sites will never give him credit for any of this, but based on the approval ratings you cite, most of the mainstream public does.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Infidel—

    I’m glad you pointed out that it’s less than a month since he took office—makes Extraordinary worthy of a capital E.

    He had said he didn’t know if the $15 minimum wage would make it through. But that might have been before Gov Justice of W.VA said you can’t go too big; it’s worse to go too small. When the Republican governor says that, maybe Manchin feels he has cover. That would be nice!

    I am so very pleased with his persona: he’s facing huge problems, but he’s projecting such calm and confidence and conviction. I think the public is responding to that too. He feels his place in history, and he’s not going to let small-minded people stop him from fulfilling what he rightly sees as his mandate.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m excited about feeling that the people at the top don’t hate me or others for who they are. Overall, I’m most encouraged by the forward thinking approach they are taking in tackling the many issues that need immediate attention. I felt as though I was suffocating and someone offered up an oxygen tank. My hope is, with that insufferable bully removed, we can focus on what works or what doesn’t, with TRUTH and ACCOUNTABILITY leading the way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really like this response, Fred. In varying ways, I think it speaks for many of us. And it meshes with a comment I saw on Twitter: It feels as though the principal came in and told us we’ve been in the wrong class for four years—he ‘s moving us to the AP class where we should have been all along.

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  5. I don’t like the spate of executive orders. I didn’t like them when Obama did them, didn’t like them when Trump did them and still don’t. That is not how government is supposed to work. Congress is supposed to deliberate, negotiate and pass bills. But all actual “government” seems to have moved to the executive branch, which is resulting in these wild banana republic style of swings in policy, depending on who is in office.

    I still don’t see what Biden brings to the table. I get it that you like Democratic policies and Democratic priorities. Does Joe Biden really bring anything of value beyond the Democratic bench that will fill the positions and pick the priorities and policies? I understand “He’s a heckuvalot better than Trump”. I understand “He’s a Democrat and therefore good.” I understand “I like all the people/priorities he brings with him.” But Biden himself? I have never seen anything other than a traditional windbag politician whose only redeeming feature is that he’s a reliable party man who has a comfortable (and non-polarizing) persona.

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    1. I will add one positive comment – I saw this morning that this Administration will not be sending judicial nominees to the ABA for vetting. It was the right decision when Trump did it and the right decision now. When people were screaming here several months ago about how cutting the ABA out of the process was leading to unqualified nominees I pointed out that group’s history of low ratings of female and minority candidates as well as low ratings for those with a conservative outlook. Their ratings were worthless in multiple ways. Biden and Trump made the same right decision, just for different reasons.

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      1. I believe you’re engaging in some comment revisionism here, JP. I do recall a discussion of the Republicans’ abandoning the ABA ratings because, you said, they were found to have a liberal bias. I’m quite sure I would have remembered if you had pointed out the “group’s history of low ratings of female and minority candidates”! And it is well known that many of the judges placed by the former guy and his pals lack experience and judicial temperaments, and are, indeed, unqualified by any but the most partisan metrics, which means they are absolutely unqualified.

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      2. I went back and looked at my 9/9 comment and you are right. I remember thinking about adding the point about nonpolitical bias but evidently did not as the comment was too long already and it wasn’t strictly relevant to the point. Or maybe it was another discussion. Anyway I was trying to say something positive about the new administration.
        Do you have any examples of unqualified people named to the Federal bench? The Trump appointees in my area seem to come with good qualifications including the normal judicial clerkships, stints as prosecutors or US Attorneys and private practice experience. I have obviously not researched all of them but please understand that “judicial temperament” as used by the ABA and others has been an amorphous category where bias of various kinds comes into the ratings process. I’m not categorically saying that every Trump appointee would be my first choice (because I don’t know them) but there have been appointments in my area by prior administrations who would not have been my first choice either.

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      3. JP: I think answering your request would be pointless since you disregard the ABA ratings generally and judicial temperament specifically. The complaints centered around the often total lack of experience and instances of lying—as well as having written pieces demonstrating they were far outside the mainstream on matters such as Brown v Bd of Ed.

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    2. I would agree with you on executive orders if the opposing party had demonstrated any interest in governing lo, these many years. They didn’t even bother to draw up a platform. And while half a million people are dead and hunger and unemployment and failed businesses loom large, Dems are rightly wary of the self-described “grim reaper,” now fighting to control a party being overtaken by conspiracy theorists and truth deniers.

      Banana republic? That was the former guy.

      You’re entitled to view Biden any way you please, but “windbag politician”? C’mon, man. I doubt that you’ve actually listened to him. And I wouldn’t be so quick to disparage a “a comfortable (and non-polarizing) persona.” Add compassion to that list, and you’ve described some critical qualities that the American people, overwhelmed by the wreckage of the past four years, desperately need.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. What does Biden bring to the table? Hmm. Good question. Wonder why 81,000,000 Americans voted for him? I don’t know about others , but this is why I voted for him, based on what he brings to the table.
      A long history of government service. In the legislative and executive branches. Which included some votes I would not have agreed with and many I did. That is the sign of a smart politician. the ability to compromise when necessary.
      A long history of decency. In all his years in government, there was ONE woman who made a claim of sexual impropriety. When asked about it, he denied it. AND he called for a thorough investigation. Guess what? She eventually backed down after all her hijinks were exposed. All attempts to smear him failed. For lack of evidence. I saw Rudy on Fox back in January 2020 telling them that NEXT WEEK he had some blockbuster documents showing Biden got $2 billion from China. Fizzled. Trump tried to get the Ukraine leader to make up lies about Biden. Fizzled. Fizzled.
      A strong moderate/liberal orientation. He has put forth specific plans for health, covid, immigration, environment, etc. (I would note that I could not compare his ideas with the GOP candidate because the GOP candidate did not produce a party platform).
      A strong commitment to diversity and equal opportunity. He has long been a supporter of women’s rights and minority rights. In a nation where white supremacy has reared its ugly head, he had the courage to speak out early and strongly. In fact, he said the reason he decided to run was because of the POTUS response to the white racist/Nazi/KKK march in Charlottesville. He felt that march did not reflect American values.
      Not a blowhard . Not someone who demands those around him grovel like serfs. Treats people with respect.Does not tweet his every thought. Does not insult folks who have different views. In other words, a real adult person.
      Biden has surrounded himself with competent, independent , intelligent people. Not family members. Not hacks. And he hired a team that keeps us informed about the covid and answers questions without rudeness to reporters. Just a breath of fresh air.
      I am sure Biden is not liberal enough for some and too liberal for others. But I voted for him for the reasons listed above. What he brought to the table was so much more than his opponent did. The American people agreed.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Joseph, that’s a fine response. I’m no longer writing about the former guy if I can avoid it. After Jan 6, your penultimate sentence seems quite the controlled understatement!

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    4. I still don’t see what Biden brings to the table. I get it that you like Democratic policies and Democratic priorities.

      But that, right there, is the main thing any politician needs to bring to the table. Personality matters to an extent, but I vote mainly based on what I expect a politician to do when he’s in power, and I assume most voters do the same. Most of the policies and priorities Biden promised to enact, and has begun to work to enact, are things I believe should be done. I voted for him because I expect him to do them. People who prefer other policies presumably vote for politicians they expect to enact those priorities. That’s how representative government works.

      Liked by 2 people

    5. As regards character, note Annie’s point that Biden approved aid to Texas without conditions or hesitation, in contrast to Trump’s foot-dragging and worse with aid to California and Puerto Rico (areas of the country that oppose him politically) during their disasters. Note too how Obama did the same after the great tornado disaster in Oklahoma, the only state where not even one county voted for him in 2008 or 2012.

      This illustrates how Trump was a petty bully while Biden accepts his responsibility as president of the entire US.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I remember being impressed how graciously President Obama was received in New Jersey by Governor Christie after Hurricane Sandy.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. The executive order, from the link, that caught my eye was this one:
    “End the Justice Department’s use of private prisons”
    This order calls for non-renewal of prison contracts. I don’t know how long current contracts are for. (99 years? that’s a problem) Maybe if the feds no longer send new inmates they can violate their own contract to supply enough prisoners to the prisons and end the contracts early that way. Maybe there will be a second step, where current contracts are gradually rescinded. Maybe they can work toward a federal statute making private prisons illegal. But it is a start.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I actually just read the titles until I saw that one. But thanks – and I am glad there is at least a start. Cancelling contracts probably takes more than an executive order if you are, like Biden, concerned with proceeding legally and correctly.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. What pleases me the most about President Biden is that I don’t hear from or read about him every stinking day. Just do your job however you envision it, sir. And I’ll be pleased as punch to vote for you again– or better yet, your VP.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Ally Bean—

      It certainly is a pleasure. I actually look forward to hearing from him because he always has something substantive to say. Best line: “I don’t want to talk about Donald Trump. I want to talk about the American people.”

      And then, as you say, there’s our VP, readying herself…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fred: Didn’t he give him a hug that served to hurt his chances in the Republican Party? No hugs for President Biden from Abbott. The Texas secessionists must be really angry that they need water sent by the federal government to keep them alive.

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    1. He gave him a big “bear hug”! Everyone benefited, everyone got a great photo op and clearly demonstrated how much better we can be if we all worked together in spite of our differences. Unless my ears deceive me, President Biden is telling us that is his goal.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think Biden is doing a great job. I’m impressed he’s accomplished so much in such a small time, and I like his calm and blessedly normal manner. He’s fulfilling his agenda and that of the people who voted him in. Isn’t that what a president is supposed to do. It will be a bonus if he can reach across the aisle, but I’m not holding out too much hope that that action will be reciprocated. The republicans are too busy fighting amongst themselves. I saw on the news tonight that OAC and New York raised 3 million dollars in just a few days to help Texas…..and yet when New York needed ER help Texas voted against it. Interesting discussion Annie, even if I’m late to the game as usual.

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    1. I wish I were as well-versed about Canada as you are about US, Joni. Biden is facing some intra-party challenges in addition to the disloyal opposition, but he’s ready for them. Happy to have you join the party whenever!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. May it continue, though I do understand the EU leaders’ wariness.

      New wrinkle: when I tried to “like” your response to me on your blog, it asked for my info all over again and then told me my password was wrong. I’m a little creeped out bc I got warning/danger notices from Jill Dennison’s and Fandango’s like of my newest post. I’m notifying WP, but if you have their emails, perhaps you can notify them directly? And if you get that red warning from this comment, pls contact me at annie@annieasksyou.com. Thx!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Right, Matthew. And in Merrick Garland, Biden has picked a man who’s above reproach and has the ideal experience for this time of ascendant white supremacy. Now we must hope that the Senate has some remnants of decency and will confirm him.

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