"So if you're tired of the same old story Oh, turn some pages I'll be here when you are ready To roll with the changes..."
Last March, after Joe Biden won the South Carolina primary and was on his way to becoming the Democratic nominee and president of the United States, I started a column with lyrics to REO Speedwagon's "Time for Me to Fly," indicative of Biden's time to fly through the primary and general election.
Thus, imagine my surprise when REO's "Roll With the Changes" popped up on my Pandora Wednesday before his first address to a joint session of Congress. President Biden has been in office 100 days, and wow, he is rolling with the changes, ridding us of the tired same old story that we heard for four years, turning lots of pages via signing all those executive orders rolling back in all the bad ones, and letting America and the world know he's here, and so are we, and we are all ready to roll with the changes.
Watching Biden transform our country has been exhilarating, and honestly, there have been so many proud moment, that I'm trying to figure out which one of the numerous changes has been the most impressive. Is it competence over incapability? Compassion over lack of caring? Confidence over uncertainty? Courage over cowardice? Candor over incorrectness?
Take your pick, but the first 100 days and President Biden's speech Wednesday night have been monumental. His competence, compassion, confidence, courage, and candor have been a godsend for a country in desperate need of repair and yearning for a big ego boost.
We had a big ego leading the way for the last four years, who put himself first and the country ... well, I don't think it made his top 10. Gone are the senseless and sustained tweets, the racist rants and regulations, the ineptitude for managing a pandemic, and after last night, the awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to hateful bigots during a State of the Union speech.
Putting that symbol of excellence around the neck of Rush Limbaugh in the House chamber was symbolic of the destruction the former president and his ilk would have on not only the U.S. Capitol, but the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and every other revered federal government institution. In essence, President Biden is refurbishing. Like a contractor, he is fixing all the damage that has been done.
The first obnoxious 100 days of the Trump presidency were just a precursor to the destruction that would seethe into the soul of the nation and all of us, primarily with the onset of COVID-19. Looking back at the idiocy of the previous administration and its sheer uselessness trying to manage the virus is almost as frightening as the virus itself. How did we survive? Well, we didn't. Hundreds of thousands died because one man was too wrapped up in himself to care about anyone else.
Certainly, the empathetic Biden administration's aggressive action on tackling COVID-19 and putting a massive plan in place to get over 200 million needles (and counting) in our arms has been nothing short of heroic. Can you just imagine what a withering mess the vaccination program would be under the former administration? Rather than tell us to inject Clorox in our arms, Biden has been passionate in telling us to put that vaccine in our shoulders, up front about the realities and science of the virus, the pitfalls, and how, if we all just keep trying, we will return to some semblance of normalcy by July 4, his goal.
Another valiant effort by President Biden was pushing the American Rescue Plan through Congress, which has been a welcome relief for so many people. Over 65 percent of Americans said do it. The Republicans said do it without us, so Biden did it on his own, with the help of a Democratic Congress. The bill reflected President Biden's overwhelming desire to help.
Under the previous administration, greed was the name of the game. Passing tax cuts for the rich and corporations was the proudest achievement by the former president, and that's according to him.
President Biden explained what that tax cut really did during his speech last night. It enriched the top 1 percent, the wealthiest Americans, who made over $1 trillion, and that was during the pandemic. Trickle down for sure. It wreaked havoc on American jobs and the middle class.
That's what the American Jobs Plan (infrastructure), the American Families Plan, and even combating climate change are all about for Joe Biden: jobs, jobs, jobs. He spoke from the heart during his address, and directly to those who feel they have been left out of so much of what America is about -- opportunity. How can $1 trillion go to so few when so many are lined up to get boxes of food? So many Americans have been left behind, and as soon as they start to rise, so will America. That's how President Biden feels.
He spoke last night about America falling behind in its competition with China. China and the rest of the world think America is past its time, that its best days are behind it, that we're too slow to make changes. Do these missives sound familiar? The Republicans continue to wrongly hammer President Biden with the same descriptions, and like America, the president is in the process of proving everyone wrong.
America, like President Biden, is just beginning. At 78, he has shown an unmatched ability to look to the future, and that's remarkable for someone his age who, well, let's just call it as it is, rolls with the changes.
Remember his predecessor? Change was going backwards, not forward. He was another 70-something man who validated the somewhat true axiom that when you get older you're more reluctant to change. To the former president, it was all about the past. Not so much about changing but returning to a 1950s era way of life where white men ruled, women were in the kitchen, gays, lesbians and trans people were locked in closets, and Black people sat in the back of the bus.
Biden is acting like a futurist, like a bright light, telling us we can modernize our infrastructure, fix our broken electrical grids, combat climate change while creating jobs, access free pre-K and college, obtain accessible child care and affordable health plans, and most of all escape the grip of the pandemic with the federal government firmly leading the way.
That's the difference. Biden is a believer in the power of what the government can do. The previous president felt it was useless, a tool for manipulating his power, a vehicle to be staffed by corrupt cronies. He once referred to it as "a joke." It was, I suppose, while he was leading -- or not leading -- the way.
In essence, our government was for the most part dormant for the last four years, and Biden has been the spark that has ignited the government to do what it was intended to do, and that is help the American people when they need it and where they need it. And to be the crutch that America can lean on, rather than the cumbersome cast that makes us immobile.
Many have argued that measuring the first 100 days of a president's term is really an exercise in futility, since there's so much more to come. But for this president, I firmly disagree that his first 100 days should be discounted.
When President Biden took the oath, the U.S. Capitol had just been overrun by white nationalists, the virus was out of control, vaccines seemed unreachable, the economy looked hopeless, so many were left still jobless, and systemic racism was rampant. And we were the scourge of our allies and adversaries. The country was and still is beset with so many issues, and we could not afford a president to come in and stumble.
But Biden did. And let me explain. The image that stands out to me about the president's first hundred days is when he stumbled trying to navigate the steps up to Air Force One on one of his first trips on the plane in mid-March. He tripped twice before falling over on a very windy day. The president recovered, took a moment to dust off his knee, and walked with his head held high into the mighty jet. He turned around at the top of the steps and proudly saluted. He would not be cowed.
That scene was a metaphor for what this country was put through. During the last four years we were tripped up and fell over from a colossal wind that blew hate, scorn, bigotry and lies. And on January 20, America started to recover, a gentle breeze replaced the brisk bluster, and we began to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and with our heads held high began to step towards the mighty future.
And now that gentle breeze has our back as we progress. It has been said so many times, but it's so true -- President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is a man who has been knocked down throughout his life with the loss of a wife, children, defeat in presidential primaries, near death from a brain aneurism. And during the last election, whipped by so many lies about who he was, diminished, old, slow and senile.
Last night, Biden spoke for 65 minutes, and as he got further along in his speech, he was anything but a withered old man. He spoke like a fierce competitor, a leader, a giant, a great orator, and one who will pick us back up, guide us through all the changes, and make America soar again, and we will all end up saluting Joe Biden.