Joe Biden’s first 100 Days have sped by and even on the other side of the Atlantic and with a global pandemic raging, one can hear the sighs, mainly of relief. But have things changed?
Certainly, mornings are no longer governed by the late night angry tweet. However, it seems frankly bizarre that Biden is already being mentioned alongside FDR, the only president to win four elections and whose first 100 Days was marked in 1933 by a Congress eager to pass a flood of major legislation. Biden has no such Congress and definitely can’t match FDR’s electoral record. I think his presidency will hinge on the mid-terms in 2022 and the outcome there depends on whether vaccination can protect most Americans from future waves, and equally whether that allows the economy and jobs to surge back. Only those successes can prevent a Republican resurgence that will stop him in his tracks. The millions who voted for Trump are my proof.
My doubts about America’s transformation is best summed up through one of Billy Connolly’s stories. The Scottish comedian was on a Glasgow bus one day and seated in front of him was a mother with a boy of around seven. The boy turned around and for twenty minutes as the bus weaved through city traffic, he pulled ever more elaborate faces, using his fingers to twist, stretch and distort his face until it achieved gargoyle-like standards of repulsiveness. Irritated, but composed, Billy leaned forward and quietly said: “My mother once told me that if I kept pulling funny faces, one day the wind would change and I would stick that way.” Not missing a beat, the boy said: “At least, you were warned.”
Americans have been pulling faces at one another for a long time, and have held up the distorted image saying: “This is the enemy.” If Billy’s mother is right, the wind changed some time ago and all of us should remember: we were warned. The next four years will be ugly.