70 days into the first 100 days we take the temperature of the Biden presidency and ask how he's doing, and how he's doing so much. What made sleepy Joe such an active president? Is it him or the people around him? And how should the Republicans respond? Plus we discuss what it would take to restore America's standing in the world - does anyone want that anyway? With Helen Thompson and Gary Gerstle.
The message of Biden’s early presidency is that he understands the challenge of the moment.
- His first 70 days are more like FDR’s first 100 days than any recent president.
- This has also led to a more critical reassessment of the Obama years.
- Biden has put Harris in charge of the situation at the border; this is a strange move if he’s setting her up to be his successor.
Biden essentially has a two year window to get things done—maybe less.
- Biden is betting on his legislative achievements to get him through the midterms; he’s unveiling ambitious projects that will affect all Americans.
- The pandemic has enabled some of this, but the stimulus and the infrastructure bill also reflect the monetary and fiscal environment.
The reigning paradigm of U.S. politics since Reagan has been deregulation. There’s now a sense that this paradigm has exhausted itself.
- Perhaps the paradigm really shifted in 2016. Many of the things that Biden has done—for example, infrastructure—are things that Trump said he wanted to do.
- Biden is trying to occupy ground that Trump was unable to occupy. Most Americans will benefit from the stimulus, and the infrastructure bill will create millions of new jobs.
- Republicans are trying to focus on cultural issues. They are also gutting democratic institutions.
What will happen when the pandemic ends? Will this create opportunities for a skillfully led opposition?
- Joe Biden is not backed by clear legislative majorities.
- The border issue might become more politically salient when the pandemic ends.
Is Pax Americana over?
- There’s an increasing view both within and outside the United States that American leadership can’t be counted on.
- There were foreign policy continuities between Obama and Trump. Key differences were on Iran and climate.
- Biden has returned to the Paris Climate Accord and is trying to work with China on climate.
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Biden’s recent press conference
- Samuel Huntington, The Crisis of Democracy
- More on Biden’s secret meeting with American historians
- More on Biden’s infrastructure plan
- Evan Osnos talks about Joe Biden with Ezra Klein
And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking
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