We have a different Joe Biden as president of the United States - different in a positive way.
He didn’t hit the ground running, but walking. And listening. And leading in a quieter way. And, he is getting important things done.
I don’t know why so much attention is directed to the “first 100 days” of a U.S. presidency. I see no magic nor distinction in that specific number, any more than the first 30 or 50 or 200 days. It is simply about one-fourth of the first of four years of the first term to which he has been elected.
It seems to be a tad early for setting benchmarks of evaluation of his performance in the huge job for which he was elected.
Nevertheless, the media and most of the nation will be focusing and reflecting on the first 100 days, so here goes.
Joe Biden went to work on the first day of his presidency. He has worked long and hard hours since that January date. He has taken a little time off for church on Sundays and occasional walks with his unruly dogs.
From day one, he began signing consequential executive orders. He continued methodically during the early weeks, selecting staff, making appointments and meeting with the legislative branch.
He started with three priorities. The first was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic; then an ambitious, costly financial package aimed primarily at helping those who have been the most damaged from the ravages of COVID-19. Third was a jobs and recovery plan to restore our economy and build and restore our infrastructure of America.
He is doing so with his “head down," in focused manner, moving steadily, but with a sense of urgency toward his ambitious priority goals.
On his No. 1 priority (dealing with COVID-19), he has exceeded all promises and expectations, even his own. Coming into office he predicted 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days. We have actually gone past 210 million with a few days to go.
To move vaccination forward faster, we now have 90% of our population within 5 miles of a vaccinating location. Vaccine availability is such that 50 million doses are awaiting willing recipients.
Strangely, we are still in distress and fear, in large part because of carelessness in our coping. We are experiencing far too much carelessness, avoidance and even refusals in masking and distancing. Even stranger are the huge numbers refusing to be vaccinated.
The same people who want to be relieved of restrictions are resisting the vaccination that is needed to relieve need for restriction.
Biden’s third priority will face tough sledding in Congress. Hopefully, a favorable end product will be reached quickly (for Congress). Also, hopefully it will end up close to stated goal amounts, but with clearer evidence of negotiation and compromise, and with some movement toward bipartisanship.
In Minnesota, we have almost 5,000 miles of highway and 600 bridges that are in poor condition and need of repair. There have been too many years of stalling and avoiding in longstanding failure to tax ourselves sufficiently.
The jobs and recovery plan also provides good promise of an increase in broadband access, improved affordable housing, restored child care, clean water, clean energy and the list goes on.
As you might well guess, Biden, in addition to constant criticism from Republicans, also gets quite a bit of criticism from the most vocal, extreme and impatient members of his own party.
He did not meet his campaign promise of lifting Trump’s artificially low limit of 15,000 immigrants per annum within 80 days. He now states that he will do so by May 15. Cut him a month’s slack on the difficult and continuous problem.
With the recent and present rash of gun violence, some expect Biden to drop everything else. He has called gun violence an epidemic, an embarrassment to our nation. He advocates a new ban on assault rifles, a ban on any gun that shoots more than 10 shells, and calls for universal background checks.
He can’t do it alone.
Through this early small fraction of his term, Biden exhibits a pattern of patience and a kind of calm that never were his trademarks. The Biden of yesteryear was prone to occasional misstatements and frequent impulsive actions.
He belies the old adage that "you can’t teach an old dog new tricks." Nearing 80, he has made a quite remarkable makeover and has turned his long experiences of the past into positive adjustment for today, and for his continued presidency.
Where did Joe go? He went to work. He’s working for us - all of us.