Joe Biden’s inaugural address Wednesday wasn’t electrifying. It wasn’t marked by extraordinary rhetorical flourishes, nor delivered with staggering charisma.
It was, rather, a clear, heartfelt, passionate and sensible speech at an immensely fraught moment of America history in which the newly sworn-in president of a dangerously divided country set out the challenges at hand, indicated where the solutions might lie, and vowed to do whatever is in his now-considerable power to implement them.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and the woman: America would appear to be fortunate that Biden, the veteran conciliator, is the individual best placed to heal a country many tens of millions of whose citizens still do not believe he won the election. And that he had the wisdom to choose, alongside him, the country’s first female, Black vice president.
“Democracy has prevailed,” Biden declared early in his address, and indeed it had — in that the duly elected president duly took office, and his predecessor reluctantly vacated the White House, albeit promising ominously to return “in some form.”
But America is riven, with the Donald Trump-inflamed assault on the capital two weeks ago both the practical and symbolic culmination of that internal rend. “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” the 46th president said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person’s shoes — as my mom would say.” The Golden Rule is indeed vital, whether learned from Hillel the Elder or Catherine Biden.
As Biden now bids to mend America at home while protecting and advancing its interests abroad, Israel has cause to feel fortunate, too.
The pendulum has swung away from an administration with which Israel’s leadership found so much common cause. But it has swung not to Democratic contenders hostile to and dismally uninformed about this country, and there were those. Rather, Biden understands better than most the challenges Israel faces in fending off its enemies, and in surviving as both a Jewish and a democratic nation.
There will be disagreements — bitter and likely open — over policies regarding the Palestinians and the settlement enterprise. It is already clear that the nascent Joe Biden presidency and the longtime Benjamin Netanyahu premiership are deeply at odds over how to thwart the Iranian ayatollahs’ rogue nuclear weapons program. This latter is a cardinal issue. But at least it will be tackled by Israel and a Zionist ally in the White House.
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