Mr Biden’s aplomb in addressing the pandemic differs markedly with that of his predecessor. And so it reflects his willingness to transfer power.
Pointing to the scientific evidence that the incidence of Covid infections is higher amongst the unvaccinated, he has taken charge and mandated that federal and other workers take the vaccine.
It was his duty, he said in a televised address, to protect all Americans and so he was issuing the edict. Right away, though, his detractors started to complain that their freedoms were being infringed. But what freedoms? The freedom to increase the likelihood that you transmit an infection that could be fatal? Is that a freedom? When there are means to prevent it?
The president countered his critics by saying that they were taking a cavalier attitude toward the infection and he is correct.
What stands out in the president’s firmness is his willingness to do what is right. This is what the science is saying and I stand with the science.
By doing so he is showing his willingness to transfer power to science. And to whomever speaks the truth.
The previous president was incapable of doing so. When Mr Trump held his televised appearances at the height of the pandemic, with his scientific advisors standing beside him, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on the mike to put his twist on the facts.
Had the previous president been a man willing to transfer power to the scientists and to let them do what they know how to do, then we would long ago been all vaccinated in this country and the economy would have been much farther along than it is now, let alone the lives that would have been spared.
But the previous president could not do it. The height of this incapacity showed when, after being soundly defeated at the polls, he insisted that it was not so. How could it be?
Deep in his mind a voice kept resounding, ‘why should I transfer power?’
And there were enough gullible people to buy into it that they marched on one of our highest symbols of democracy, Capitol Hill, just as the electoral ballots were being counted.
Their aim was clear. Disrupt the process.
They did not do it. Barely. But their intention was clear.
Notice how when Mr Biden speaks to us he is not surrounded by other officials. He stands alone when he addresses us. It is symbolic of his wish to convey that the final responsibility is his and he will exercise it fully. He will not run from it. But he is also willing to acknowledge his limits.
And because of it he can transfer power.
People who are able to do so are freer people. They think better. More clearly. For they are not burdened by grandiosity.
They are people who know themselves to be flawed but are willing to carry the burden of full responsibility for their decisions. Mr Biden will seek the opinion of experts in matters which are not of his competence but he will make the final choices, painful as they may be, as he did in Afghanistan.
Because, as all men, he is flawed, Mr Biden will make his mistakes, but it won’t be because he was careless or didn’t seek the best expert advice. A myriad other factors may intervene to make what appears to be a good choice go bad. But he will have tried his best.
And so he will stand alone behind that lectern and say as he did when announcing the vaccine mandates, ‘this is what I believe is the right thing to do for all Americans.’
And you can say what you want about him, but he gives you the sense he is doing the best he knows how to do.
The impulse to grandiosity lives in all of us. And all of us have to wrestle with it and try as hard as we can to pin it down so it won’t let us run in the wrong direction.
Some world leaders succumb to its allure.
Name any world leader who is diligently working to extend his hold on power beyond the legal limits that brought him to it, and we’re seeing an example of grandiosity not being confronted and restrained. And it belongs to all of us to not let it happen.
Unlike Mr Trump, Mr Biden is fully aware of his mortality. Because of it he is the competent leader that he is.
And so I thank him for being forthright, full of candor and decisiveness.
Keep it up, Mr President.
A final note: My take is that Jerome Powell is doing a great job as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank and you ought to reappoint him. He’s a most talented man and it will help maintain economic stability.
And on the matter of Latin America, should you choose to lift the embargo on Cuba, the spirit of that decision will put a smile in the hearts of all Latin Americans.
You’d be saying, ‘I’m transferring power to you. Now see what you can do with it. I’m getting out of the way.’
Good night, Mr President.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net.