Thirty-three years ago, he was the fast-talking junior senator from Delaware with a chip on his shoulder, desperate to prove his gravitas during a brief, ill-fated presidential run.
The next time around, in 2008, he was the seasoned foreign policy hand and veteran lawmaker who strained to capture the imagination of Democratic presidential primary voters.
As he weighed a third attempt at the presidency last year, many Democrats feared he was too late. Too old, too moderate, too meandering to excite ascendant voices in his party, too rooted in the more civil politics of the past to nimbly handle Donald Trump.
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. ran anyway. He ran as a grieving father who connected with a country in pain. As a relative centrist who emphasized character, stability and belief in bipartisanship over the particulars of a policy agenda. As a flawed, uneven campaigner whose vulnerabilities were ultimately drowned out by his opponent’s outsize weaknesses, and eclipsed by the seismic issues at stake, as the nation confronted the ravages of a deadly pandemic.
In many ways, he ran as the politician he has always been. And for one extraordinary election, that was enough.
“They’re not so much saying, ‘I’m investing in Joe Biden because of his philosophy,’” said former Senator William S. Cohen, Republican of Maine, who served with Mr. Biden and supported him this year. “They’re invested in Joe Biden because of him, of who they see as being a human being.”
Mr. Biden’s victory on Saturday is the culmination of a career that began in the Nixon era and spanned a half-century of political and social upheaval. But if the country, the political parties and Washington have changed since Mr. Biden, now 77, arrived in the Senate as a 30-year-old widower in 1973, some of his attitudes — about governing and about his fellow Americans — have hardly changed at all.
He still reveres institutions, defiantly champions compromise and sees politics more in terms of relationships than ideology. He has insisted that with Mr. Trump out of office, Republicans will have an “epiphany” about working with Democrats — a view that elides the fact that Republicans were rarely interested in working with the Obama administration when Mr. Biden was vice president.
Those beliefs, coupled with his reputation as an empathetic and experienced leader, made Mr. Biden acceptable to a broad coalition of Americans this year, including independents and some moderate Republicans.
Now, Mr. Biden’s convictions about how to unite the country and move forward will be tested as never before.
He will take the helm of a nation devastated by a health crisis, reeling from an economic downturn and divided over virtually every major political matter of the day, from how and even whether to confront climate change and racial injustice, to baseless questions from some of Mr. Trump’s supporters about the very legitimacy of free and fair election results.
His first priority, Mr. Biden has said, will be to bring the coronavirus under control, as he also works to invest in infrastructure and to promote economic growth. Mr. Biden has released a series of policy plans around all of those issues, and has made clear that a national emergency calls for urgent and ambitious action.
But the president-elect, a 36-year veteran of the Senate who has never embraced the most far-reaching progressive proposals, is also well aware that the partisan makeup of Washington may limit the scope of his agenda. He is unlikely to press for rapid, transformational change of institutions like the Supreme Court or to embrace the boldest proposals in the Green New Deal.
Yet for all of his instincts for consensus-building, he will face enormous and conflicting pressures when he returns to Washington.
Progressives who papered over their differences with Mr. Biden in the name of defeating Mr. Trump will quickly turn to fighting for their priorities, which may not always align with Mr. Biden’s goals or timeline.
“Where the progressive energy will really turn angry is if we see Biden really compromising on core principles,” warned Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Even his closest allies believe there are elements of his long record that should be reconsidered from the White House, including the legacy of the crime bills passed during his tenure in the Senate. Mr. Biden for years served as a tough-on-crime Democrat, and he has sometimes struggled to account for his leading role in the 1994 crime bill, which many experts now associate with mass incarceration.
“He needs to put together a commission or a committee to study the 1986 and 1994 crime bills,” said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking Black official in Congress, describing mass incarceration as an unintended consequence. “We’ve got to rectify.”
And Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the powerful Republican leader, has a relationship with Mr. Biden — but he is unlikely to be moved by encomiums to bipartisanship and civility.
“Joe is a peacemaker — he’s always tried to get along with Republicans,” said Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat and the former Senate majority leader.
But he was skeptical that Republican leaders in Congress would feel similarly about curbing divisiveness in Washington.
“I just hope Joe’s right and I’m wrong,” he said, “but I don’t see that coming to an end.”
Mr. Biden was a mediocre student with big ambitions, a gregarious young football player from an Irish Catholic family who overcame a stutter and dreamed of running for president.
In the meantime, he settled for school politics, serving as class president at his Catholic high school and adopting an approachable manner that he would deploy decades later on the campaign trail.
“The joke was, if Joe stood next to a light pole, he’d strike up a conversation,” said Bob Markel, a childhood friend of Mr. Biden’s. “You were talking to him for 20 seconds, he’d put out his hand and say, ‘Joe Biden.’”
He came from a line of politically engaged Pennsylvanians on his mother’s side, with a great-grandfather who served as a state senator. His father was a dignified man who had struggled financially, “a student of history with an unyielding sense of justice,” Mr. Biden said in his eulogy. Joseph R. Biden Sr., who moved the family from Scranton, Pa., to Delaware when Mr. Biden was 10, shaped his son’s moral compass and instilled in him a strong sense of identity; his story looms large in Mr. Biden’s efforts today to connect with working-class Americans.
Mr. Biden enrolled at the University of Delaware, where he threw himself into politics as freshman class president. He participated in the occasional high jinks, though even then he was fairly conservative in his personal manner.
“It’s the same style that I think we’ve seen since he was a teenager,” Mr. Markel said. “That moderation can be seen when he was in his teens. He was a fun-loving guy, certainly outgoing, but he didn’t do crazy things.”
For all of his political ambitions, he was at a remove from the antiwar activism taking hold among his peers in the caldron of the 1960s, and he was not one for protesting. After graduating from law school, he followed a path into institutional Democratic politics: young lawyer, part-time public defender and rising star within the Delaware party establishment.
At the end of that decade, party elders suggested he try his hand at a seat on the New Castle County Council.
“I spent most of my time in heavily Democratic precincts,” Mr. Biden recalled, describing the race in a memoir. “But I also spent a great deal of time going door to door in the middle-class neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. They were overwhelmingly Republican in 1970, but I knew how to talk to them.”
At the age of 30, Mr. Biden was moving swiftly in his political career. But personally, he was a broken man.
In a day, he had gone from a married father of three who won a startling victory in the 1972 Senate race to a widower with two toddlers in the hospital after a car crash killed his wife, Neilia, and their baby daughter, Naomi.
For months, he struggled to adjust to the Senate job he had wanted so badly.
Decades later, one of his surviving sons, Beau, would die of brain cancer. Mr. Biden, by then vice president, would be shattered anew.
Yet those staggering personal losses, friends say, shaped Mr. Biden’s uncommon ability to empathize — perhaps his greatest strength.
On the campaign trail, he never spoke with deeper authority than when he promised a grieving voter that one day, the memory of a loved one would bring a smile before a tear. His skill at connecting with voters in pain, allies say, uniquely prepared him to run for president amid a pandemic that has killed more than 237,000 people in the United States and upended the lives of many others on Mr. Trump’s watch.
“He understood the emotional trauma that Trump has inflicted on the country in a way that most of the other candidates didn’t,” said Shailagh Murray, who was a top aide to Mr. Biden as vice president.
After the 1972 accident, Mr. Biden slowly began rebuilding his life, later marrying Jill Jacobs and having a daughter, Ashley.
And eventually, he settled into Washington, too, where his early instincts for bipartisanship and working within the system were reinforced by mentors like Mike Mansfield, the longtime Senate majority leader.
Mr. Biden rose to lead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. He advanced signature policy achievements like the Violence Against Women Act and an assault weapons ban, and he developed relationships with leaders around the world. He torpedoed the nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court, a setback that some Republicans remain bitter about to this day, and championed the confirmation of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
His tenure in the Senate is also associated with what many Americans see as the mistreatment of Anita Hill before his committee during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas; with his vote for the Iraq war and his opposition to busing; and with his leading efforts on the 1994 crime bill that troubled some voters throughout the campaign.
As he navigated Congress, Mr. Biden built relationships with similarly consensus-minded Republicans like Senators Bob Dole, Arlen Specter and John McCain.
But Mr. Biden, who has said he was motivated to run for office in part by a belief in civil rights, was also willing to work with even the most virulent segregationist senators. And perhaps, the most controversial speech he has given was his eulogy for Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.
“At least there was some civility,” Mr. Biden said at a fund-raiser in June 2019, citing James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman E. Talmadge of Georgia. “We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done.”
Under fire, Mr. Biden ultimately expressed regret for the way he invoked segregationist former colleagues.
He did not apologize for the instinct.
The stature Mr. Biden gained in the Senate did not always translate on the presidential campaign trail.
His 1988 race ended in humiliation amid a plagiarism controversy.
In 2008, Mr. Biden struggled to stand out in a talented and crowded field that included Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He dropped out after Iowa, after cementing his reputation for verbal gaffes by referring to Mr. Obama as “articulate and bright and clean.”
But as Mr. Obama’s vice president, Mr. Biden was in many ways back in his element.
“Every time we had a trouble in the administration, who got sent to the Hill to settle it? Me,” Mr. Biden said at that 2019 fund-raiser. “Because I demonstrate respect for them.”
Sometimes that approach got him results — he helped secure three Republican votes for the economic stimulus bill in 2009, for example.
On other occasions — including a major gun control effort after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut — it ultimately did not.
Mr. Biden, like many of his fellow Democrats, was enraged by the Trump presidency and fearful about the corrosive effects of four more years of extraordinary divisiveness.
But he was also closely attuned to moderate, older Black primary voters and had carefully followed which Democrats won in the toughest districts in the 2018 midterm elections. As Mr. Biden mulled a third presidential bid, he was skeptical of tacking far to the left in response to Mr. Trump and his Republican allies. And he was convinced, based on his own experiences, that he could help find common ground.
“Through very difficult periods in the country’s history, he believes he has been able to bring people together,” said Mike Donilon, Mr. Biden’s chief strategist, citing the 2009 stimulus bill and his efforts on a sweeping health measure at the end of 2016. “Beyond the politics, there are also just fundamental judgments about how to treat people, how to talk to them.”
Throughout his campaign, Mr. Biden has championed that approach, sometimes with a touch of performative defensiveness.
“We need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country,” he said in a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, last month. “I’m accused of being naïve. I’m told, ‘Maybe, that’s the way things used to work, Joe, but they can’t work that way anymore.’”
“They can and they must if we’re going to get anything done,” he said.
Mr. Biden, of course, has a policy agenda too, one that he has addressed often in recent months.
He ran on a platform of expanding health care access through a public option, and promoting the middle class. He promised to tackle climate change and to combat racial injustice, acknowledging that America has “never lived up” to the promise that all Americans are created equal. After the pandemic hit, he grew increasingly open to more ambitious social and economic proposals.
But more than anything, he ran as himself, with all of the convictions and the flaws he has displayed over a half-century in public life.
There were the exaggerations and verbal blunders and the flashes of temper. He lost the first three contests, and his campaign was practically moribund when Black voters in South Carolina, who saw him as a familiar and reassuring figure in troubled times, rescued his bid.
“We know Joe,” Mr. Clyburn said as he endorsed Mr. Biden. “But most importantly, Joe knows us.”
And through those peaks and valleys, Mr. Biden hewed to one consistent message: that the turmoil of the Trump era was an existential threat to the character of the country — and that he was uniquely equipped to lower the nation’s temperature and try to bring the country together.
“Has the heart of this nation turned to stone?” Mr. Biden said recently, speaking in Warm Springs, Georgia. “I refuse to believe it. I know this country. I know our people. And I know we can unite and heal this nation.”
In some ways, it is a promise he has been preparing to make for his whole career.
This time around, a majority of American voters decided to believe him.
Only Your Votes’ll Decide Fate Of Candidates, INEC Reassures Nigerians
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured Nigerian voters that only their votes will be the sole determinant of the winners among the 15,322 candidates nationwide contesting in next year’s general election.
The commission reiterated its commitment to ensuring that it delivers a credible, free and fair election, reassuring that the votes of the electorate will definitely count.
INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance in his keynote address at the Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, held in Lagos, yesterday.
He admitted that with the lifting of the ban on political campaigns, the tempo of political activities has increased with parties, candidates and their supporters commencing campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisements to canvass the support of the electorate.
The chairman, however, warned that the commission will pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters, stressing that as the regulator, it will play its role to ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as our guidelines and regulations.
“The 2023 general election is fast approaching. It is now 141 days to Election Day. Polling Units will open at 8:30 am on Saturday, February 25, 2023, for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and the same time on Saturday, March 11, 2023, for state elections (governorship and state assembly).
“Campaign in public by political parties officially commenced on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Therefore, the tempo of political activities has increased as parties, candidates and their supporters commence campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisements to canvass the support of the electorate.
“The commission has published the final list of 15,322 candidates for the General Election contesting for 1,491 seats (one Presidential, 28 Governorship, 109 Senatorial, 360 House of Representatives and 993 State Assembly constituencies).
“I wish to restate once again the commitment of INEC to credible elections. Votes will continue to count and will be the sole determinant of the electoral outcome,” he assured.
The electoral umpire boss further explained that technological innovations introduced by the commission will guarantee and protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls.
“For this reason, the commission has introduced many new innovations, supported by the deployment of appropriate technology, to protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls ranging from voter registration to voter accreditation and result management,” he said.
“The deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) with its dual fingerprint and facial biometric accreditation process has ensured that only genuine voters are accredited to vote during election. This has curtailed the incidence of multiple voting and other sharp practices associated with voter accreditation during elections.
“The BVAS has come to stay and will be the only means by which voters will be accredited in the 2023 general election.
“Furthermore, the introduction of the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal has made the result management procedure more transparent. Polling Unit results are now uploaded in real-time to the IReV portal for public view.
“This has enhanced the transparency, credibility and consequently public confidence in the outcome of elections. The IReV has come to stay and polling unit results will be uploaded to the portal in real-time in the 2023 general election,” he said.
Yakubu further emphasised that; “as campaigns commence, I also wish to remind political parties and candidates that you all signed the Peace Accord organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) in which you committed yourselves to peaceful electioneering campaign. I urge you to be guided by the letter and spirit of the accord.
“For our part, the commission will pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters. As a regulator, the commission will play its role to ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as our guidelines and regulations.
“We will pay particular attention to a peaceful campaign devoid of abusive, intemperate and slanderous language as well as the use of innuendoes or insinuations likely to provoke a counter-reaction resulting in the breach of the peace.
“Similarly, we will pay special attention to the observance of limits on party and candidate finance. I urge political parties and candidates to carefully study the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and familiarise themselves with their obligations as well as the penalties under the law.
“As you are aware, elections are a multi-stakeholder activity. As the commission is doing its best to ensure a credible process, we also appeal to the media for a continuous partnership. Managing the electoral process for credible outcomes is the responsibility of all of us. As campaign activities get underway, the media will continue to play an important role. A lot of the activities will take place in the media of which the new media is a critical player.
“We must continue to work together against the spread of fake news, misinformation and disinformation that seek to create or exacerbate tension or de-legitimise processes and outcomes,” Yakubu charged.
2023: Era Of Ballot Box Snatching Over, Banigo Insists …Lauds Wike For Reappointing Danagogo
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, has expressed gratitude to Governor Nyesom Wike for the reappointment of Dr. Tammy Danagogo as Secretary to the State Government.
Banigo stated this during a meeting with leaders and critical stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The deputy governor, who congratulated Danagogo for his re-appointment, described the re-appointment as well-deserved.
Banigo said she does not take lightly the call to represent Rivers West at the Senate, and noted that her kind of representation at the Upper Legislative Chambers would bring glory to God.
“I encourage you to tell your people to collect their PVCs, because this time around the votes will count, as the new Electoral Act does not allow what they did in 2019, they cannot try it as nobody can carry ballot boxes”, the deputy governor stressed.
In a related development, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, has commended leaders of the PDP in Ahoada West Local Government Area, for keying into the Divine Kingdom Mandate.
Banigo made this commendation while meeting with them at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday, preparatory to the commencement of her campaigns in the upcoming elections.
She motivated the people to exercise their franchise, by collecting their PVCs to vote for credible candidates of the PDP.
“They should come out and vote, because this is our opportunity to chase out this bad All Progressives Congress-led government at the federal level, as they have brought so much untold suffering, untold hardship, bloodshed and kidnapping. We have seen the developmental strides of our governor so much development is going on in Rivers State, and we are poised to give you more”, Banigo added.
Wike Signs Instrument To Withdraw Omehia’s Recognition As Ex-Gov, Today …Re-Appoints Danagogo As SSG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, will today sign the official instrument to withdraw the recognition of Sir Celestine Omehia as former governor of the state.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri, yesterday, said that the ceremony would “take place at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Friday, 7th October, 2022 by 12 noon”.
The statement further read, “His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, is to sign the instrument on cancellation of the recognition of Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of Rivers State.
“The cancellation of the recognition is sequel to the resolution of the Rivers State House of Assembly adopted on Thursday, October 6, 2022, to derecognise Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of the state”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has approved the re-appointment of Dr Tammy Danagogo as the Secretary to the State Government.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri, last Wednesday, said that “the appointment takes immediate effect.”
It added, “His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has approved the re-appointment of Dr.Tammy Wenike Danagogo as the Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG).”
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