Biden's first 100 days: calm, quiet, and 'going big'
Washington, United States: The regular (hourly) White House melodrama of the Trump era has ended, but Joe Biden's 100-day rush to change the nation he inherited has not.
On the eve of his first 100-days, Biden will give a primetime speech to a joint session of Congress. He aspires to be one of the most influential presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Great Depression.
He was the oldest man to ever take the role, at the age of 78.
And, with the world's deadliest recorded Covid-19 outbreak, a shaky economy, and toxic divisions in the aftermath of four years of Donald Trump, the new Democrat faced a mountain to conquer.
But, three months later, he has impressed many with his discipline, his tough negotiating edge, and, above all, his desire to "go high," as he puts it.
According to the most recent Pew poll, Biden has a 59 percent approval rate, which is much higher than Trump has ever had.
Going big, going now
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which Biden's party rammed through Congress in March, also injected capital into every nook and cranny of the Covid-ravaged economy.
It is widely anticipated that there will be a post-pandemic boom.
Now, Biden is proposing another splurge: a $2 trillion-plus American Jobs Plan, which would overhaul the country's infrastructure in almost every way, from conventional roads and bridges to broadband internet and electric car growth.
What comes next? This is the American Families Plan, which would cost at least another $1 trillion to finance child care and education.
Before I took office, I promised help was on the way. Just three months in, I’m proud to say help is here. We’ve delivered over 150 million relief checks, administered over 200 million shots, and are working hard to build back better every day.— President Biden (@POTUS) April 24, 2021
Republican politicians say that Biden has unleashed a socialism avalanche. However, polls indicate that their voters are much more supportive of Biden, allowing him to argue that he is following through on promises to govern in a bipartisan manner.
When he entered the White House, Biden reintroduced the US to the Paris climate accords, which Trump had abandoned, and last week he went even further, convening a 40-nation summit and announcing a doubling of US targets for greenhouse gas reductions.
He's moving rapidly in other areas of foreign policy.
Allies are being informed that "America has returned." Adversaries are being reassessed, with China and Russia classified as adversaries who must be fiercely opposed – even in strategic areas where collaboration is equally necessary.
Biden reportedly overruled top generals to set a firm date of September 11 for the final, full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, demonstrating his ability to take swift and potentially risky action.
And on Saturday, he defied decades of US ambiguity by publicly recognizing the mass killing of Armenians a century ago as genocide, a classification that infuriates Turkey.
Is everything back to normal now?
Perhaps more than anything, exhausted voters hired Biden to restore normalcy to America. Or even dull.
And he has delivered on that.
The rule-by-tweet system is no longer in use. The use of swearing during presidential addresses is no longer practiced.
Gone are the frequent insults to the media and dismissals of critics. The cult-of-personality-style rallies are no longer held.
Even so, a glimpse of Washington's Capitol during Biden's primetime address on Wednesday would be enough to remind us that the nation is still far from normal.
The temple of US democracy remains under extreme lockdown as a result of lingering nervousness in the wake of the unprecedented January 6 riot by Trump supporters.
Because of the ongoing danger posed by the coronavirus, Biden can only address a sparse audience, far from the high-energy crowd that normally welcomes presidents on the big day.
"It will not look like or feel like, in many ways, what past joint addresses have," Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
For the first time in history, the two people sitting behind the presidential lectern during the speech would be women: Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a primary Democratic ally of Biden.
However, several unfriendly faces will be present as well.
So far, Republicans have been unanimous in their opposition to Biden's big ideas. As a result, he is dependent on a razor-thin majority, which could be quickly eroded by midterm congressional elections next year.
And, in comparison to what's to come, the massive drive for vaccines and passage of the American Rescue Plan was arguably the easy part.
The political minefields begin with the out-of-control situation at the Mexican border, where Biden's rhetoric about humanizing the immigration process collides with chaotic facts.
Republicans are focusing their efforts on what they believe would be a sure-fire vote-winner in the midterm elections.
And Biden's left-wing base is irritated by what it sees as his betrayal of a campaign pledge to accept more refugees.
Police abuse, gun control, and government health care are among the problems that Biden claims he wants to address, but which have befuddled his predecessors for years and threaten to befuddle him as well.
And the threats from China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia are just getting started.
In his first 100 days, Biden did bring some peace to the United States.
He'll just hope that it's not the calm before the hurricane.
Six things to know about Biden's first 100 days
President Joe Biden has accomplished a lot in 100 days, beginning with an epic attempt to drag the United States out of its Covid-19 nightmare, but there are still some challenges ahead.
Here are three major accomplishments and three fields where more work needs to be accomplished.
DONE OR GETTING DONE
1. Covid vaccinations: When Biden took over on January 20, the raging pandemic was the most serious single challenge facing his administration. The response was mass vaccinations.
Biden is delivering on this front. He marked the 200th million vaccine shots administered last week, and Covid deaths have dropped significantly.
2. Economic stimulus: Biden forced through a nearly $2 trillion rescue package for an economy that has been hampered and hollowed out by the coronavirus shutdown, which has lasted more than a year.
Despite the fact that Democrats dominate Congress, their margin is razor-thin, and he had to work hard to get the American Rescue Plan approved. According to polls, it is common among both Democratic and Republican voters.
3. Foreign policy rethink: Biden's top priority was undoing what he saw as Donald Trump's reckless damage to conventional US alliances.
Inviting Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as the first foreign leader to the White House demonstrated Washington's commitment to Asia.
According to the White House, Biden's first international trip will be to Europe in June, where he will attend G7, NATO, and EU summits. The transatlantic partnership, which Trump challenged, has been resurrected.
In addition to returning the US to the Paris climate agreement and attempting to restart nuclear talks with Iran, Biden has set a firm date for the withdrawal of the last US soldier from Afghanistan: September 11.
Much TO DO
1. Working with Congress: Biden pledged bipartisanship, but he has had to deal with a razor-thin Democratic majority so far.
This raises concerns about his forthcoming major initiatives, including an infrastructure bill, economic greening, police brutality reform, and immigration reform.
The Democrats' majority in Congress could be eroded by midterm congressional elections next year.
2. Immigration: nowhere is the process as seamless as it is in the United States. The Biden administration blundered more than once when it came to dealing with illegal immigration at the southern border.
After Trump's harsh crackdown, which primarily relied on physical obstacles, Biden vowed a more humane approach.
However, the new government was unprepared for the influx of immigrants, many of whom were from Central America.
The overcrowding of facilities for unaccompanied migrant children provided Republican opponents with political fodder while infuriating Biden's supporters.
The administration's perplexing back-and-forth on plans to significantly increase the number of refugees accepted into the United States has exacerbated the sense of chaos.
3. Foreign policy snafus: While Biden has moved rapidly to restore relations with allies, his proposals for dealing with adversaries are still in the works.
He is yet to be put to the test by a real crisis. One could be given at any time by China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia.