Biden Rides the Winds of Political Change | Opinion
In his appearance before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening, President Biden sought to answer questions from Americans about where he intended to go for the country. But Mr Biden’s speech, less a State of the Union speech than a statement about the kind of union he envisions, left three broader and more substantive questions unanswered.
Indeed, it is the answers to these questions that will define not only the course of the Biden years, but also the Biden legacy and the shape of the country in the post-Biden era. These questions are the perennial perennials of American civic life and are particularly relevant to Mr. Biden’s unusual transition from Senate Utilities infielder to dugout captain. Taken together, they are essential to understanding the Biden presidency and this moment in our history. Here are these questions and some possible answers:
– Is Mr. Biden a leader or a follower?
It is indisputable: the president leads with his heart. But he follows advice, polls and his own instinct. No student of Biden’s work in Washington, if that phrase can even be used, can come away with a linear political narrative like, say, Robert La Follette on the left or Robert Taft on the right.
He said he had been shaped, at least on the margins, by the civil rights movement, and yet he was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee which in 1994 reported on the Crime Control Act. violent and law enforcement, often blamed for the mass incarceration of blacks. For decades he has championed the interests of large corporations incorporated in his home state of Delaware, but today he advocates a massive increase in corporate taxes.