McManus: Is Biden fatally stubborn or virtuously tenacious?



Nowadays is Joe Biden’s 80th birthday. Our first octogenarian president is two many years more mature than Ronald Reagan was when his presidency ended in 1989.

Biden is nevertheless in shape and energetic, but he is also displaying his age. His hair is thinner, his gait stiffer, his speech a small much more garbled than when he arrived in the White Household nearly two decades ago.

One matter hasn’t changed: He is famously stubborn.

And now that he’s 80, it is really almost certainly truthful to describe him as a stubborn outdated person.

Request any person who’s labored for Biden, and you will hear a edition of the same description: He listens to dissenting voices, but after he’s created up his mind, he is just about unshakable.

“1 matter I discovered rapidly,” a former aide told me, “you never convey to Joe Biden what to say.”

When he is incorrect, that stubbornness may perhaps be his worst vice. When he is appropriate, it might be his most beneficial virtue.

Biden’s stubbornness has aided steer his presidency into some of its deepest potholes.

It generated the debacle of the US withdrawal from Kabul, when Biden dismissed pleas from the navy for hold off. (Questioned later if he imagined he experienced made issues in Afghanistan, he reported: “No.”)

It shook community confidence when he prematurely declared victory about the COVID-19 pandemic, even as federal experts warned that the condition was continue to spreading.

This year, it drove his popularity down when he brushed off warnings of growing inflation and stuck to an financial information — “matters are better than you imagine” — that appeared disconnected from voters’ lives.

But there is also a type of stubbornness that’s useful—a trait much more frequently known as persistence or tenacity. The president has that, too.

His persistent aid for Ukraine as it battles a Russian invasion has designed him the undisputed chief of a reinvigorated North Atlantic Treaty Group.

This tumble, Biden determined the most vital issue in the midterm elections was democracy — the defense of constitutional norms versus the extremism of “ultra-MAGA Republicans.”

“What we are doing now is going to figure out no matter whether democracy will extensive endure,” he explained in just one of a number of marketing campaign speeches.

Pundits and political strategists criticized the concept, arguing that the election would be made the decision on financial issues, not abstractions about democracy.

But when the returns came in, Biden turned out to be more correct than incorrect. An Affiliated Push poll uncovered that democracy rated a shut 2nd to inflation among voters’ considerations. A amazingly large proportion of voters disappointed about the overall economy voted for Democrats however, enabling them to retain manage of the Senate and lose much less seats than anticipated in the Home.

At a postelection news meeting, the president was asked irrespective of whether he saw any have to have to adjust his program dependent on the lessons of his to start with two decades.

“I’m not heading to alter,” he said.

Biden’s midterm marketing campaign topic, unsurprisingly, was an current variation of the information of his 2020 presidential marketing campaign: a pitch for constitutional norms, a rejection of Donald Trump’s extremism.

In that campaign, applicant Biden received the Democratic nomination by means of sheer stubbornness, too. He completed fourth in Iowa and a disastrous fifth in New Hampshire, but stuck with a technique that relied on winning Black voters in South Carolina and outlasting his rivals.

Very long right before 2020, persistence in the facial area of adversity was the main of Biden’s story. His nationwide political occupation started in tragedy when his wife and daughter had been killed in a targeted traffic incident soon in advance of his swearing-in as a senator. He endured two mind aneurysms. He shed his 1st two attempts to acquire the Democratic presidential nomination—badly—but arrived back again for a 3rd check out.

Now, at the commencing of another presidential campaign, Biden’s stubbornness has surfaced again: Will he run for reelection in 2024 at almost 82?

The president has stated regularly that he intends to operate, and it turns out he intended it all together.

“Our intention is to operate again,” he reported soon after the midterm returns ended up in. “Which is been our intention no matter of what the outcome of this election was.”

Men and women all around him say the midterm outcomes moreover Trump’s entry into the race merely verified a final decision Biden experienced now manufactured.

Practically nothing can make him far more defiant than critics declaring he’s shed his stuff very little tends to make him much more eager than one more probability to defeat Trump.

“He feels like he’s the only one who’s beaten [Trump] in advance of,” his previous press secretary Jen Psaki stated on MSNBC.

Questioned regardless of whether polling that displays most voters will not want him to operate will influence his considering, Biden mentioned: “It will not.”

In a CNN exit poll on election working day, 67% of voters explained they did not want Biden to operate again. But among Democratic voters — the types who will make your mind up on the party’s nominee — 57% reported they required Biden to operate 38% claimed they did not. That suggests the president starts off the race as a apparent favored.

As for his age, Biden mentioned lately, “It’s a authentic factor to be involved about.”

“I think the greatest way to decide is to watch me. Am I slowing up? he mentioned. “That’s not how I feel.”

Is that stubbornness, the vice that can lead to disaster? Or is it tenacity, the virtue that sales opportunities to tricky-gained results?

Never check with Biden he is not the very best decide. All he appreciates is that stubbornness—OK, tenacity—has worked for him up to now.

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