Merriam-Webster’s fourth definition of the noun “sleeper” is “someone or something unpromising or unnoticed that suddenly attains prominence or value.” Let those of us who didn’t expect much from the President ‘fess up. We didn’t see it coming, but Joe Biden most certainly did turn out to be “someone unpromising who suddenly attained value.” I admit I was one of them. I now see the error of my ways. Sleepy Joe really is Sleeper Joe, and America is the better for it.
It’s hardly surprising that (as I write this) the President has wasted zero American tax dollars by playing zero games of golf thus far. That much was expected of him. What wasn’t expected by me (and others willing to admit it) was the crisp, efficient government that swung into action under the steady hand of his expert leadership. Many of us hired him because anyone was better than Trump. What we got, to our surprise, was someone who was not just better than Trump, but better than just about anyone who ever served in the august office of the President of the United States.
Biden’s flurry of highly effective executive orders, his mammoth 1.9 trillion dollar relief bill, his superb handling of the vaccination rollout and his surprisingly effortless tightrope walk between the utilitarian and the progressive is making his first 100 days one of the greats. He also managed, without fanfare or self-administered pats on the back or patronizing displays of noblesse oblige, to quietly and efficiently get a woman of color on his ticket and together they won the day. Comparisons with FDR and JFK abound, and so they should.
The bratty Democratic naysayers of the Obama era who insisted Joe wasn’t up to the task are having to eat their words. Joseph Robinette Biden just might be the three greatest words since John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and here we were thinking of him as a stopgap president, somebody to fill the job until Kamala or someone “qualified” could take over. How young we were.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Kamala Harris would make a brilliant President, and I, for one, hope to be given the chance to vote for her one day. In eight years, not four. And part of her brilliance will unquestionably be owed to the fact that she served in a great administration and learned much in that tenure from a master politician.
Of course the President isn’t perfect. No one is. But I think the fact that the vaccination schedule is on track and — words seldom heard these days — actually ahead of schedule, ought alone to take our breath away. Part of our problem is we have spent the last four years with a president who expects hallelujahs and te deums to be sung every time he passes a cognition test. We’re unused to Presidents who just quietly get on with it, without fanfare, without boasting, without endless rally speeches about how great he is and how rotten everyone else is. Welcome, America, to a brave new world.
Certainly we are in Joe Biden’s honeymoon phase, and reality will settle in a little at some point. But there is no reason to believe that much of it won’t last, either. Americans continued to believe in FDR and JFK long after the initial lustre wore off. It’s time we stopped bellyaching and enjoyed the fact that we just might have a great man and a true statesman as President of the United States again. God, or whatever mechanism that runs the universe, knows we have earned it. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.