“It’s been a long time coming. It’s going to be a long time gone.”
David Crosby, 1969
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Timing is everything in both politics and life. This is Joe Biden’s time. He proved it again last night.
It was a conversational speech that was somehow still inspirational. It was full of the sort of bold policy prescriptions that Democrats haven’t offered since Fritz Mondale lost 49 states to Ronald Reagan. 1984 was the year Democrats lost their nerve. 2021 seems to be the year in which they’ve recaptured it.
It’s been a long time coming, it’s been a long time gone. I cleaned up the grammar of the classic CSN song by David Crosby. I might like Westerns as a movie genre, but I’m not big on dropped Gs. I leave that to sidekicks like Ward Bond, Andy Devine, and Walter Brennan; all of whom, I might add, were members of the proto-Dingbat Right.
It’s time for our de facto theme song:
David Crosby may be an asshole, but he’s a talented asshole. Before Biden spoke MSNBC’s Joy Reid said that “Joe Biden is like Lyndon Johnson without the swearing.” Say what? Remember: “This is a big fucking deal.”
Joe Biden also swears, but unlike Lyndon Johnson he’s a nice guy, not an asshole. If Biden were a member of CSNY, he’d be nice guy Graham Nash. LBJ was like Crosby: a talented dick, but a dick nonetheless.
Since I’m casting politicians as members of CSNY, I see Bernie Sanders as Neil Young: fundamentally an outsider but when he works with others the results can be remarkable. We’re seeing Team Player Bernie in 2021 much to the chagrin of some on the Hipster Twitter Left. I’ve always thought that Senator Sanders was better than the worst of his supporters and he’s proving that this year. Thank you, sir.
That was an epic tangent. What can I tell you? My specialty as an internet pundit is digressive tangents. I believe in playing to my strengths.
“Speak out, you got to speak out against the madness
You got to speak your mind if you dare.”
That’s what President Biden did when he addressed the Dipshit Insurrection and the madness of the Trump regime. He didn’t have to mention the Kaiser of Chaos by name. We all knew who he was talking about.
One of the most effective parts of the speech was when the president linked his ambitious plans to expand the safety net to the fate of democracy itself. It evoked the founder of the American welfare state: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR, too, spoke in a conversational tone as he advocated radical change in his Fireside Chats.
FDR used the necessity for massive wartime spending as a tool to achieve economic justice after the war. The GI Bill Of Rights is one of FDR’s least discussed accomplishments, but one of his most important. It helped educate a generation who had served their country. It was a well-deserved reward for defeating fascism abroad. Biden is intent on defeating it at home.
“Turn turn any corner
Hear you must hear what the people say
You know there’s something that’s going on around here
The surely, surely, surely won’t stand the light of day, no.”
Any long Biden speech is something of an adventure. His lifelong battle with a stutter sometimes gets the best of him. But when Biden gets stuck on a word, he moves on without missing a beat.
What you see is what you get with Joe Biden. Like Harry Truman, he served under a hyper articulate president. Unlike Truman, the vice presidency prepared him for this moment. Barack Obama wasn’t as good a president as FDR (who was?) but he treated his Veep with respect. We’re reaping the benefits of that relationship in 2021.
My original title for this post was Give Me That Old Time (Democratic) Religion. I kept thinking of Biden’s fellow Veeps: Hubert Humphrey and Fritz Mondale; both of whom would recognize their ideals and policy ideas in Biden’s speech, especially the passage about the right of labor unions to organize. To paraphrase Paul McCartney, it’s time to get back to where we once belonged.
In his farewell letter to former staffers, Mondale wrote: “Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight. Joe in the White House certainly helps.”
It certainly does. I was cautiously optimistic that Joe Biden would rise to the occasion as president, but he has exceeded my expectations. It was imperative; for as Crosby wrote back in 1969:
“But you know
The darkest hour
Is always, always just before the dawn.”
That’s what it felt like before Joe Biden’s inauguration. His predecessor was as phony as his laughable claims to be a man of the people. Joe Biden is the real deal: What you see is what you get.
The last word goes to The Dramatics: