President-elect Joe Biden, the clear winner in a cliffhanger race against President Donald Trump that took nearly four days to resolve, is moving quickly to tackle the coronavirus pandemic Trump failed to address, probably leading to his defeat.
Biden has appointed a White House task force of 13 medical and support experts to combat the pandemic on a crash basis. Nothing has been said of the role of the nation’s top figure in the allergy diseases field, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who outspokenly has led Trump’s own White House anti-pandemic team, much to Trump’s discomfort. But Biden has often praised Fauci, and he would be expected to stay on in some key capacity. He has said he wants and intends to remain involved.
Beyond coping with the pandemic is the challenge of reopening the economy along with the nation’s schools so that a new generation of America’s young people can resume their pursuit of lives better than those of their hard-working parents.
Also, the awakening of the public conscience by the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as women’s quest for for justice in the MeToo movement and for pay equity in the workplace, has inspired young Americans especially to look to new national leadership and stability in the wake of the Trump-era circus that aroused so much heat, hate and passion.
Trump, meanwhile, is angrily demanding that the Supreme Court, with a 6-3 Republican majority of his making, reverse the election outcome based on groundless charges of fraud in several battleground states. His personal lawyer, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, is among the legal team striving to resurrect Trump’s claim on the presidency, a long shot now.
Beyond that effort, the aggrieved incumbent has passed word to loyalist underlings to deny mandated transition funds and government work space to the Biden campaign, which is busily preparing to take the reins of power on January 20. Trump appears hell-bent on dragging America into a constitutional crisis, or worse, to avoid this personal humiliation.
Yet despite Trump’s current antics, the American political system will weather the storm and survive to repair itself — if citizens heed the warning Trump’s example provides and take better care in assessing the leaders they choose. Whatever else Trump cooks up to salve his wounded pride and diminished role on the national and the international stage will be a pathetic coda to an unparalleled stain on the United States’ stature and reputation for years to come.
The task now facing Biden is not only to reduce the pandemic to a bad memory, but to restore the nation’s severely damaged reputation as the haven for the world’s downtrodden and dispossessed, and defender of democratic self-government.
In this regard, after the national shame of having been taken in by a world-class con man and moral reprobate, the emergence of Joe Biden is a blessing. With his admirable demeanor, his reverence for our highest national aspirations and his unfailing respect for others, Biden is a man meeting America’s moment of need for common decency in our public life.
There can be no comparison between Trump and Biden on the scales of dedication to the plight of working Americans. One is a thrice-married, high-rolling real-estate tycoon from New York with a trail of scams and business failures to his discredit, while the other is a native of coal-country who has survived family tragedies and remains a devout church-goer.
Biden now talks of himself as a disciple of Franklin D. Roosevelt and has promised to follow his example of lifting the nation as FDR did during the Great Depression. It’s a tall order, but he could be the one pull it off.
Jules Witcover’s latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power,” published by Smithsonian Books. You can respond to this column at email@example.com.