Have you seen Joe Biden’s tweet??!?!
Yes, the President of the United States was up and tweeting at 7:45 Friday morning! And man, what a tweet! It was 30-second video clip from Biden’s inaugural address on Wednesday, in which the 46th president said that “with unity we can do great things, important things.”
He really tweeted that! DANG!
This is, of course, a joke. Biden did sent the tweet above. But it’s decidedly non-controversial. It’s the sort of thing we used to describe as “presidential” behavior.
Which brings me to this: The single most radical thing that Biden has done in his first 48 hours of being president is act totally and completely normally.
He’s signed a series of executive orders rolling back measures put in place by former President Donald Trump. He delivered a speech outlining the specific steps his administration would take to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He attended a briefing – alongside Vice President Kamala Harris – with his Covid-19 team. His press secretary, Jen Psaki, held press conferences on Wednesday and Thursday in which she answered questions from reporters. Cabinet nominees like Pete Buttigieg took part in their confirmation hearings before the Senate. The Senate haggled over Biden’s proposed coronavirus stimulus package.
It was all so damn normal. That it feels different speaks to the utter radicalization that Trump brought to, literally, every aspect of the presidency.
Trump seemed bound and determined to undo absolutely every aspect of what it had meant previously to be president. “My use of social media is not Presidential - it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL,” he tweeted less than six months into his first term. “Make America Great Again!”
Trump embraced the abnormality of his vision for the presidency as proof that he was, in essence, freaking out the squares. The fact that he abdicated the moral leadership that past presidents innately understood to be the core of the job was evidence that he was fighting for the people not the powerful, or something. His lies – about everything from who was going today for the border wall to who won the 2020 election – and the resistance they engendered among media fact-checkers in his mind were the necessary response to an establishment that was against him. His off-the-wall-tweets were his way around the media bias that threatened to suffocate conservative thought.
He had a reason and a rationalization for everything. (Trump is an Olympic-level rationalizer.)
It’s only in the light of the utter normality that Biden has projected over these last two days that you can really see just how not-normal every last bit of the Trump presidency actually was. And how it was all just so totally exhausting. The tweets, the statements, the threats, the bullying, the policy reversals, the tweets (again) – it all made the country feel like it was sprinting on a treadmill that just kept going incrementally faster. Or that we were all trapped on a bus that was hurtling through the country, unable to slow down. (Come to think of it, that would make a good movie plot!)
That is not a good way to run a country – or to live in one.
The biggest change – at least for me – in the earliest days of the Biden administration, then, is the quiet. If Trump was constantly moving, chattering, tweeting and cajoling, Biden aims to present the exact opposite image to the public – of a man who knows what he is doing and is doing so methodically and carefully.
Who knew the normal could feel so radical?