Poor Joe Biden. He may have won the electoral college and the popular vote, but he will never feel the love of his subordinates as Donald Trump did.
The former president’s first full cabinet meeting in June 2017 remains an unprecedented oilseed opera. Secretary after secretary almost threw themselves at his feet, singing songs of praise and paying homage to the divine emperor of the universe.
Has a parent ever known such eternal adoration from their child? Maybe just King Lear of Goneril and Regan. And most telling was the fact that the world was allowed to see it. Trump made sure it was another chapter in his reality TV presidency.
It’s not really Biden’s style. His first cabinet meeting on Thursday was relocated to the East Room due to coronavirus restrictions (the permanent 16 members wore face masks and sat in a giant plaza with empty chairs between them) but otherwise it was a return to the old and serious way of doing things.
The main topic on the agenda was not the sculpted beauty of the American president, not his imposing intellect, not his undoubted manhood, not his ability to punch holes in one, but simply his newly announced $ 2 billion infrastructure plan.
Flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with Vice President Kamala Harris opposite. Biden said he was asking five cabinet members to “take special responsibility for explaining the plan to the American public.”
He did not answer questions from the media, and after less than two and a half minutes, the journalists left. “I thank the press for being here, but I will speak to all of you later.”
But even this brief peek behind the curtain said a lot about how much has changed. Composite white men almost three quarters from Trump’s cabinet; they make up only a third of Biden’s.
On Thursday, the East Room featured Harris, the first woman and first woman of color to serve as vice president; Janet Yellen, the first woman to head the treasury department; Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay secretary confirmed to the cabinet; and Deb Haaland, the first Native American in a president’s cabinet.
“This is the first time in American history that the cabinet resembles the United States,” Biden said. “That’s what we promised we would do, and we’ve done it.”
If Trump represented a backlash against America’s first black president, Biden’s cabinet represents a backlash against backlash.
His refusal to play on camera with growing adulation was also a reminder that the reality TV presidency was not renewed for a second season.
Ratings have dropped and, such is the absence of scandals, Biden’s dogs are making headlines for biting people and depositing poop in a hallway of the White House. Cabinet members like Tom Vilsack and Denis McDonough just can’t compete with Ben Carson or Rick Perry for comedic effect.
Think of late night comedians who suddenly go cold. How they reveled in that first Trump cabinet meeting, which began with Mike Pence declaring that it was “the greatest privilege of my life to serve as the vice president of the president who is keeping his word to the American people.”
Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, continued: “We thank you for the opportunity and the blessing you have given us to serve your agenda.” As Trump paced the room, nearly all of the secretaries struggled to outperform their predecessors in the bondage Olympics.
Late night comedian Stephen Colbert summed up: “These are adults, some of them are billionaires, and they are happy to have the leashes removed while the cameras are pointing at the beloved leader.
“I didn’t know Trump has such a strict ‘please check your balls at the door’ policy. Honestly, this is bizarre to the next level. This is an unprecedented public festival for an emotionally fragile man. “
Of course, it was fun until it stopped being fun. In a country where politics is the new religion, with all its faith, fervor, and absolutes, the worship of that particular Messiah led up to the deadly assault on the United States Capitol on January 6. Ordinary Joe is more along the lines of Bertolt Brecht: unhappy the land that needs heroes.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism