Biden confronts reality, press casts it as clearing the Trump wreckage

Inaugurations are always a moment of hope and warmth, followed by the cold, messy reality of governing.  

And that’s particularly true with Joe Biden taking office. It’s like going from the dulcet tones of Lady Gaga to the gruff monotone of Mitch McConnell.

The stories on President Biden’s first full day in office–and the media’s first full day without Donald Trump–have a bracing tone, as if journalists suddenly remembered that the country is suffering through extremely hard times. 

“Biden Confronts a Confluence of Crises,” blared the New York Times banner headline.

And even if Biden somehow dons an FDR cape, no president would have the superpowers needed to vanquish the pandemic, revive the economy, achieve racial justice and heal the deep divisions that reached their depressing peak in the Capitol siege. It’s a long slog ahead.

Biden acknowledged all these problems and more in his unity speech, but the predominant emotion that swept across the media landscape on Wednesday, fairly or unfairly, was relief that Trump was gone. By yesterday, there was the sobering recovery from that high. 

Every candidate faces the transition from poetry to prose, as Mario Cuomo once put it, using the cumbersome tools of government bureaucracy to move mountains. Biden certainly didn’t sugarcoat the task ahead. He has talked about the coronavirus more than any other issue, and on the day he assumed power, the country set another one-day record, with the pandemic claiming the lives of 4,367 Americans.


As the president put it in an expectations-lowering Covid speech yesterday, “We didn’t get into this mess overnight, and it’s going to take months for us to turn this thing around.”

But just as the Democrats ran against Herbert Hoover for half a century, Biden and his allies will undoubtedly say, at least for a year or two, that Trump left him a crippled country. 

Dan Balz writes in the…

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