President Biden might look like he’s failing with inflation and border control and COVID, but The Washington Post is still doing positive profiles to make him look so much more likeable than Donald Trump. The latest was a Saturday sugar bomb by Post reporter Annie Linskey on Biden’s energetic attendance at funerals and devotion to eulogies. What a guy!
For Biden, eulogizing colleagues, especially Republicans, is also a resonant way to reiterate his core message that the country must return to a less-polarized time when political adversaries did not have to be personal enemies.
Not everyone believes that era can be revived, however. And in a sense, Biden’s attendance at these events highlights the extent to which practitioners of that kind of politics are increasingly passing from the scene.
The online headline is “Biden, funerals and a bygone America.” Linskey makes a big point that Biden goes to Republican funerals, like those of moderates like Colin Powell, John Warner, and Bob Dole. Then she brings in Bill Kristol to make this sound really gross. As it was tweeted:
“Can you imagine some Democratic senator wanting to go to Josh Hawley’s funeral or Ted Cruz’s?” @BillKristol tells @AnnieLinskey. “Not to be macabre about it, but in 20 years that would be the equivalent.” https://t.co/oiXoVMd7kd
— Michael Kruse (@michaelkruse) January 8, 2022
So if the goal was returning to a “less polarized time,” why is the Post bringing in polarizers for quotes? It’s an attempt to claim “we’re not the polarizers, you fascist election deniers are.”
The Post even includes a link to a 2019 puff piece making the same arguments for Biden’s decency (and political smarts). Linskey continued:
Allies argue that Biden’s focus on grief and empathy is particularly important for the country at a moment where more than 800,000 lives have been lost to the pandemic. But his tendency to go to funerals and give eulogies has been long a part of his political brand, the way other politicians call supporters on their birthdays.
It’s a stark contrast particularly with former president Donald Trump, who has famously skipped significant commemoration services. Trump did not attend the service for John McCain, with whom he often tangled, at the insistence of the late senator’s family. Biden, then out of office, went to Arizona to speak at it.
This is the toughest part of the story: “Biden’s attempts to connect with grieving families don’t always hit the mark. In August, when the president greeted family members of U.S. soldiers who had died during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, several family members said they felt that Biden dwelled on his own tragic past and that his remarks seemed scripted and shallow.” That is putting it mildly.
No one asks how Biden can make all these events and work so hard on eulogies and can’t make a border visit, which the White House has tried to suggest is logistically difficult. In October, Biden said in a CNN softball town hall “I’ve been there before, and I haven’t, I mean, I know it well. I guess I should go down…But the whole point of it is I haven’t had a whole hell of a lot of time to get down.”
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