March 24, 2021
There is a certain degree of inflated sense of self-worth required to run for President of the United States. You pretty much have to be a raging megalomaniac in order to think you’re worthy of shouldering the unfathomable bourdons of the Oval Office — where matters of life and death, wealth and poverty, and lately, the future of the planet itself, are commonplace. Which is all to say that if Joe Biden needs to invite a bunch of academics over to wax poetic about all the different ways he could become an FDR-style change-maker, as Axios reported he did recently, then I’m fine with it. Who cares? In this case, it’s the destination — not the journey — that matters.
Biden is reportedly eyeing a number of wide-ranging, truly transformative legislative priorities, including a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure and domestic policy package, sweeping immigration reform, and — in the wake of the latest round of deadly shootings in Georgia and Colorado — a renewed push for effective gun control legislation. And with the president riding high following the passage of his massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, there is reportedly a growing sense of bullishness within the White House that he is uniquely positioned to seize the momentum in service of a dramatic reimagining of American society.
Per Axios, the administration is already well underway moving ahead along those lines, having hosted a previously unannounced confab of presidential historians to advise Biden on going “even bigger and faster than anyone expected.” Beyond the obvious political winds at Biden’s back that would make such a push possible — solid economic numbers, popularity with the public, relatively little intra-party infighting at the moment – Biden is apparently buoyed in no small part by the nascent, ego-massaging sense that’s reportedly begun to emerge among the chattering political class that his presidential vision could eclipse even that of his former boss, Barack Obama.
Among the chief obstacles to that sort of vast political agenda is the looming threat of a senate filibuster, which GOP legislators have successfully used to block progressive reforms for decades. And this is where things get tricky: According to the White House’s official line, Biden remains opposed to the growing effort to abolish the filibuster, while “people close” to the president tell Axios that he’s actually ready to throw his weight behind axing the obstructive legislative rule, if it means passing his expansive agenda.
To which I say: Okay, fine! If inviting over a bunch of historians to offer some personally appealing perspective and historical flattery is what it takes to actively make people’s lives better, then so be it. Is it a little embarrassing that it evidently takes a political dick measuring contest to light enough of a fire under Biden that he’s willing to swing for the fences? Sure. Does that matter if he’s actually able to do something to help immigrants, fix the country’s crumbling infrastructure, and cut back on our addiction to horrific gun violence? Not in the slightest!
Having a grandiose sense of purpose and self-worth is a sin qua non to be president. That’s just how it is. And if playing to those qualities is what actually helps push this country to a better, more equitable place, then I’m good with it. You should be, too.