Category Archives: Joe Biden

Biden still deserves benefit of doubt

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Joe Biden is closing in on the 100-day mark of his term as president of the United States.

I remain hopeful that he will succeed in office. Just as I detested Donald Trump from the beginning of his term, I am willing to give Joe Biden the benefit of the doubt as he continues to secure his footing as the commander in chief.

There have been some missteps. The crisis on our southern border is one of them. Yes, it is a crisis. The unaccompanied, underage immigrants are causing a serious bottleneck at holding areas. President Biden needs to recognize what many of us already can see with our own eyes, that we have a crisis down there.

The president has been forced to pull the nomination of his first pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget. Surely, though, he will find a suitable No. 2 selection.

I have lauded Biden’s extensive legislative experience. He will need all of it as he continues to go big on his domestic policy program. The president already has delivered on a COVID-19 relief package. Now comes the infrastructure proposal that he should work extra hard to get done.

The economy is starting to rev up. The accelerated vaccination rate against the pandemic is helping restore confidence in our business community.

I want the president to succeed. Truth be told, I wanted his predecessor to succeed, too, even though I was consistently critical of his ignorance of government and of the way he treated his political foes. He called them “enemies,” whereas President Biden takes a kinder, gentler approach to speaking to and about his foes.

I am going to remain optimistic about the future of the presidency under Joe Biden and the course the nation will follow under his leadership. I just don’t want him — nor do I expect him — to mess up.

Polling data: What does it say?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Public opinion polling has been vilified over the course of recent election cycles, frankly for reasons that astound me.

Major public opinion polls actually had the 2016 presidential election called correctly when they had Hillary Clinton edging Donald Trump; they didn’t foresee the so-called “inside straight” that propelled Trump into the presidency on the basis of his narrow Electoral College victory.

They also called the 2020 presidential election correctly, giving Joe Biden a victory in both the ballot count and the Electoral College.

Still, the critics keep lambasting those polls.

Here we are today. President Biden pitched a massive COVID-19 relief bill that had significant public support. He got it enacted over the objection of every single Republican member of Congress … in both chambers!

Biden is back at it. He now has an even larger package on the table, a $2.25 trillion infrastructure reform package. The public response? Even greater than it was with the COVID relief package. The congressional Republican reaction? Precisely the same as the GOP resistance to lending a hand to those suffering from the economic wreckage brought by the pandemic.

Who, again, is on the right side?

It is looking to me as though the Republican congressional leadership and rank-and-file are not listening to the individuals they represent. They are ignoring the wishes of those who put them into office. The public favors rebuilding our roads, highways, bridges, ports (sea and air) and in buttressing our Internet broadband capability.

What’s going on here? Is the GOP political class listening exclusively to a narrow portion of its constituency? I am left to wonder if congressional Republicans will pay a political price when the midterm election rolls around next year.

They damn near should pay it!

Public opinion polling isn’t a perfect barometer of the national mood. However, it is far more accurate than its critics are wiling to admit. The GOP needs to pay attention.

Run, Joe, run … already?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden’s re-election campaign — if it happens — has become a talking point among the political class.

A reporter asked Biden at his press conference the other day whether he plans to seek a second term — and whether he expects to run against Donald Trump in 2024.

Sheesh, man! Joe Biden is 78 years old. He is the oldest man ever elected to the presidency. He said in response to the reporter’s question that he believes strongly in “fate,” which I think might be his way of acknowledging his own mortality. I do not wish that for the president, but, well … you know it might go.

Biden’s plan for reelection freezes Democratic field | TheHill

The chatter now involves what a Biden re-election bid does to the Democratic and Republican primary fields.

Let’s see. Donald Trump announced on his first day in office he would seek re-election. Democrats poured onto the primary field in massive numbers; the total hit, what, 22 before they started dropping out. The Hill newspaper thinks a Biden re-election effort could stifle the GOP primary field in 2024, unless the Biden presidency craters between now and then.

I am not going to spend a lot of time wondering or worrying about President Biden’s political future. The political present — a pandemic, immigration, climate change, voting rights — is enough of a challenge for any president.

Let’s go big, Mr. POTUS

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden wants to go big on infrastructure repair, renovation and revitalization.

I’m all in.

This gives me a bit of the willies to say this, given the immense amount of money that Biden wants to spend. I realize our debt is mounting. We’re going to run a huge deficit again this fiscal year; given that I am a deficit hawk, that prospect alone gives me the cold sweats.

Here’s the thing: If any president in the past 50-plus years — probably since President Lyndon Baines Johnson left the White House in 1969 — can shepherd legislation through Congress, it is Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

What might happen? Well, he wants to spend, reportedly, $3 trillion to repair roads, highways, bridges, rail lines, ship channels, airports … all of it. Whereas his predecessor, Donald Trump, talked a good game about infrastructure repair, he was, as NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd noted, more interested in “frittering away his days hitting the links and tweet-trashing Bette Midler.”

Opinion | Joe Biden Should Just Give It a Go – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Trump couldn’t legislate his way out of a wet paper bag. President Biden stepped out of the legislative mold into the executive branch of government in 2009 when he became vice president in the Obama administration. Now he is The Man, the chief exec, head of state, head of government, commander in chief. However, he hasn’t forgotten the legislative skills he learned in 36 years serving in the U.S. Senate.

What else might happen? There will be jobs handed out to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have seen their livelihoods vanish in this COVID era. I cannot, and I damn sure won’t try to, predict that all those jobs will generate enough of a tax boost to reduce the deficit and carve into the debt, but we’ve traipsed down this road before.

In 2009, Barack Obama inherited an economy in collapse. He and Vice President Biden managed to persuade Congress to enact an economic relief package that jump-started the economy. They did so over the objection of damn near every Republican this side of Ronald Reagan’s grave. The package worked. It got the job done. The economy revived. Oh, and the deficit whittled its way down to about two-thirds of what it was when Obama and Biden took office.

Can history repeat itself? Maybe it can. My hunch is that President Biden is willing to go big on infrastructure reform.

Go for it, Mr. President.

Stand tall, Mr. POTUS

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden had expected to stand triumphantly before the media at his first full-scale press conference.

He’ll be standing as tall as ever when reporters gather Thursday at the White House. However, he’s got some problems to confront.

Sure, he has the legislative triumph of securing the COVID-19 relief package to boast about; vaccines are rolling out by the millions of doses; he has exceeded his goal of 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days of the Biden presidency.

Biden faces a flurry of new challenges ahead of first White House news conference (msn.com)

But …

He has that crisis at the southern border. The nation is reeling from two massacres and the deaths of 18 Americans at the hands of lunatic gunmen. Pressure is growing within the Democratic Party for the president to put more Asians and Pacific Islanders in key government positions.

It won’t be a cakewalk to be sure. Reporters won’t be asking softball questions, nor should they. I have every expectation that President Biden will handle the tough questions with aplomb. What’s more, I do not expect him to label any reporter as “incompetent,” or “the enemy of the people,” or a “loser” who works for a “failing” media organization. He will stand firm and he will conduct himself in a manner we had grown to expect from our president.

It won’t be a walk through the White House Rose Garden, which goes with the territory. This lifetime public servant, President Biden, knows what to expect. I trust he’ll be ready for it.

Comforters in chief weigh in

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are getting a crash course in the unspecified role the leaders of our nation must play … and it is coming in a major hurry.

Eight people died in a mass shooting in Atlanta this week. Six of the victims were Asian-Americans; the massacre occurred in three Asian-owned businesses. Police arrested a suspect, who told the cops he wasn’t driven by race, but instead by some sort of “sex addiction.”

Biden and Harris ventured quickly to Atlanta to offer words of comfort and they vowed to pursue justice heavily and with full force.

We now have an attorney general, Merrick Garland, who has hands-on experience dealing with domestic terrorism, having led an investigation into the April 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

None of us should wish any more of these calls to duty for the POTUS and VPOTUS. However, should the calls come — and they most certainly will — I believe we can be assured that President Biden and Vice President Harris will be up to the task.

Joe Biden possesses a remarkable well-spring of empathy that comes from his own intensely personal loss — of his first wife and infant daughter and of his adult son. Kamala Harris is the first person of Asian descent to serve as VP, so she feels the pain being inflicted on other Asian-Americans by nimrods who blame them for a virus that just so happened to have been discovered in China.

They are the comforters in chief. I am heartened that the know how to perform the role that has been thrust upon them.

Experience matters

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This needs to be repeated — with emphasis.

Joseph R. Biden brings important experience to the presidency that was sorely lacking in the individual he succeeded, Donald J. Trump.

I’ve talked already on this blog about whether President Biden will be able to shepherd an infrastructure bill through Congress. My hunch is that he stands a much greater chance of doing so than Donald Trump ever had. Why? Because Biden is a creature of Congress and Trump is, well, someone with zero government experience.

That kind of thing matters when a president chooses to operate the complicated machinery called the federal government.

Trump trumpeted his business experience as a selling point while winning election in 2016. I’ll set aside that he lied about his success as a business mogul. I believe we have learned that Trump’s business record at best is considered, um, checkered. He spent his entire professional life propping his own image up. Trump never grasped the concept of teamwork, which is an essential element of governing with a co-equal branch of government, the men and women who work on Capitol Hill.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, knows the Senate well. He was a major part of that legislative body for 36 years. He chaired key Senate committees. Biden developed first-name relationships with foreign leaders. He worked well with Republicans. He is fluent in the legislative jargon that senators and House members use among themselves.

This is the kind of experience that should serve President Biden well as he seeks to push an agenda forward. Trump’s experience in business, in show biz, in self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment provided a prescription for failure.

I consider myself a good-government progressive. Therefore, I intend to look carefully over time at how well our government functions with a president who knows which levers to pull and which buttons to push.

New POTUS = new style

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald Trump’s single term as president of the United States seemed as we were living through it like the longest four years of our lives.

Even now, looking back, I cannot get over the prolonged misery of enduring his constant Twitter tirades, his nonsensical encounters with reporters, his endless string of epithets and innuendo.

He’s been away from the White House for 40-something days. It still seems like an eternity, yes?

Which brings me to my point, which is that President Biden’s style remains a refreshing change from the idiocy that Donald Trump brought to the presidency.

Biden lays low. He lets the experts do the talking, such as those with whom he surrounds himself to discuss COVID-related matters. He doesn’t contradict them or, as in one infamous instance, call an expert epidemiologist such as Dr. Anthony Fauci an “idiot” because he said something Donald Trump didn’t want to hear.

It remains a marvel to my eyes and ears to have placed the presidency in the hands of someone who knows the rules of the game and does not seek to shake things and people simply because he can.

We haven’t returned to completely normal behavior. We’re still fighting that pandemic. One aspect of our lives has been restored to what we used to envision, which is that our president is able to behave himself in a manner befitting the high office he occupies.

Collegiality still MIA

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I must admit to a certain level of naivete.

My hope had been that with the election of Joe Biden as president of the United States that the nation would see a fairly rapid restoration of good manners among members of Congress and congressional interaction with the White House.

President Biden built a lengthy Senate career marked by the former senator’s long-standing and nearly legendary ability to work with Republicans. He calls himself a “proud Democrat” but he managed to forge friendships with colleagues from the other side of the room.

He served 36 years in the Senate before becoming vice president in the Obama administration. He worked hand-in-glove with GOP senators.

Then he ran for president against Donald Trump, whose term as president was marked by constant battles with Democrats. He took a lot of Republican members of Congress along with him in those fights.

What I never quite banked on was that the animosity would outlive Donald Trump’s departure from the White House. I am saddened to realize that the residue of that anger and animosity has infected many GOP House members and senators, even as the nation has sought to recover from the tempest, tumult and turmoil of the Trump years.

The nation’s divisions run deep. I am not going to concede that the divisions are deepening at this moment. I will cling to the belief that they have reached rock bottom. Until we are able to bind up those wounds, I fear that President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are in for a long slog through the morass.

I heard today that Merrick Garland, the president’s nominee to be attorney general, can’t get a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider his confirmation. The current chair, Republican Lindsey Graham, won’t schedule a hearing.

There’s good news, though, on the horizon. Graham will hand the chairman’s gavel over to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy soon and Leahy then will get the hearing scheduled.

What is remarkable about Graham’s intransigence is  that he once described Joe Biden as one of “the finest men God ever created.” The men’s friendship was long thought to be a model of bipartisan chumminess. Then Graham slipped into Donald Trump’s hip pocket and that all changed.

I use that example to illustrate the anger that continues to infect the governance of this country.

The lingering anger likely will be one of the many distasteful legacies that Donald Trump leaves behind.

Wishing to put distance between now and the immediate past

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It might be just me, but I am sensing a serious desire among many millions of Americans who yearn to welcome a new presidential administration with an extra sense of zeal.

We’ve been through a tumultuous past four years. It started with a president declaring an end to what he called “this American carnage.” The presidential term ended with another rash of carnage spilling on the steps of our nation’s Capitol Building, inside the structure, threatening the very democratic process that makes us proud to be Americans.

We somehow got through the horrible event of the Sixth of January. The House the following week then impeached the president for inciting the riot that erupted on Capitol Hill. A week after that we welcomed President Biden and Vice President Harris to the pinnacle of power.

The former president jetted off to Florida. Vice President Pence managed to shake the hands of the new president and vice president.

I cannot possibly know what is in the hearts of all Americans. My own heart is quite full tonight after watching one of the strangest inaugurals I ever have witnessed.

There were no large crowds. No grand parade. The former president and the new president did not share a limo ride from the White House to the Capitol.

Throughout the day, my sense has been a feeling of relief that the past is behind us along with a strong desire to put it farther behind us … in rapid fashion!

Yes, many crises confront the new president and vice president. The pandemic needs focused attention from the center of our federal government. Our worldwide allies need assurance that our nation has returned to its rightful place on center stage. Our climate is changing. Our nation is torn by racial strife.

I get a sense that we now have considerable faith in President Biden and Vice President Harris are up to the task of moving us forward.