Exceeding My Expectations

I recently ran across a cartoon showing a couple of shipwreck survivors heading toward two small islands– one with palm trees, the other with an erupting volcano. One of the castaways asked the other “which one should we choose?”

The 2024 Presidential election in a nutshell. Even someone who found that first island  unappealing would have to be nuts to choose the one spewing volcanic ash. (I still can’t get my head around the millions of presumably uninformed or deranged Americans who cast ballots for volcanic ash in 2020…)

But here’s the thing: lots of people plan to vote Biden because they recognize that a vote for Trump is a vote for certain disaster. That reasoning–while sound–simply ignores the fact that Biden has been a transformative, progressive President. I loved Barack Obama, but fair is fair: Biden has accomplished far more.

I’ve previously shared  my middle son’s observation that Biden is the first person he’s voted for who vastly exceeded his expectations.

I’d attribute the mismatch between performance and public perception to lackluster oratory, except that people voted for Trump, whose pronouncements are word salads showcasing his third-grade vocabulary.

A few pundits have begun to address the persistent lack of recognition of Biden’s considerable governing skills. The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland was one. As he began,

The tragedy of Joe Biden is that people see his age, his frailty and his ailing poll numbers and they miss the bigger story. Which is that his has been a truly consequential presidency, even a transformational one. In less than three years, he has built a record that should unify US progressives, including those on the radical left, and devised an economic model to inspire social democratic parties the world over, including here in Britain.

As Freedland writes, making the case for “Bidenism” isn’t hard.

Top of the list is, characteristically, something that sounds boring but is of enormous significance: the Inflation Reduction Act, passed last year. That seemingly technocratic piece of legislation actually achieves two epochal goals. First, it hastens the day the US makes the break from fossil fuels – by making clean energy not only the morally superior option for both industry and consumers, but the financially superior one too.

It does that through a massive raft of tax breaks, subsidies and incentives all designed to encourage the production of wind turbines, solar panels, ever improving battery technology, geothermal plants and the like, along with tax credits aimed at making electric cars irresistible even to those middle-American consumers more concerned about their wallets than the burning planet.

Those who understand the threat posed by climate change–everyone from environmental activists to Goldman Sachs–has hailed the act as a “gamechanger.”

But the second goal of the legislation is almost as significant. Biden insisted that this surge in green manufacturing would happen inside the US, thereby reviving industrial towns and cities in decline since the 1980s. It is US factories that are getting the subsidies to build all this clean tech – alongside an earlier, huge package of infrastructure spending – restoring jobs to workers who had long been written off.

Bidenomics resurrects Democratic principles discarded by Bill Clinton: an activist state making serious public investments in manufacturing;”muscular regulation” of corporations; and encouragement of unionized labour.

Freedland reminds us that securing passage of this transformative legislation was remarkable, given a Senate then split 50-50 between the parties.

A new book by Franklin Foer, The Last Politician, describes how Biden, whose hands were already full with the Covid pandemic and the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection, was not content simply to be a caretaker manager, troubleshooting crises. Instead, “he set out to transform the country.”

The result is that Biden has “redirected the paradigm” of US economic life in a way that will affect Americans “for a generation”. While Obama and Clinton were “deferential to markets”, says Foer, Biden has reversed “the neoliberal consensus” in place since the Ronald Reagan era.

Biden insists–correctly–that “capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation,” and as a result, his administration is resurrecting anti-trust enforcement.  Foer writes that, “As a matter of substance, he is the most transformational president since Reagan.”

Internationally, Biden is credited with bringing stability after the chaos and dictator-coddling of the Trump years and, especially, for building and maintaining a western alliance in support of Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian imperialism. Others admire his handling of China: robust, without crossing the line where a cold war turns hot.

Freedland says Biden campaigned in “reassuring prose,”  but has governed in “radical poetry.”

Age isn’t all negative. Coupled with intellect and experience, it allows time for the development of skills. It allows people like Joe Biden to exceed our expectations.


  1. And this is perhaps why Republicans despise him so. They’re afraid folks will notice and expect more such treatment and governance.

  2. Your son reminds me that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

    My observation is that we all are similar, unique, and collectively better as decision-makers than individually. That explains why the individuals who penned the Constitution chose democracy from the choices that they learned from the European Age of Enlightenment as an alternative to consider. They bet the country that it could be better than as a Colony under King George.

    Now, we have a love/hate relationship with their choice. Sheila reminds us often that they chose freedom by giving we the people, the ultimate power. It is just slower than a snail.

    We all still love freedom, some because of what they reasoned out, some because they can be misled into believing that freedom means unrestricted personal fewer restrictions and Lord
    Action taught the rest that power rewards power.

    We now wonder about their choice because mass entertainment media has made many dysfunctional people.

    The majority will prevail because we follow the founder’s choice. We have to ignore the media feed called polling. Media chooses what is best for their business.

    We all want freedom. We are overworried because we all absorb the wisdom of our entertainment media choices and are free to.

  3. I noticed too late that WordPress makes everyone’s lives easier but ignores paragraphing suggestions that Grammerly Premium offered me and I chose. AI may be overhyped.

  4. What happened to my original post? Damn helpful tools.

    Now I have to remember what I was thinking a few minutes ago. I’m going with the age-related short-term memory loss reason.

  5. Every republican running for president rails against “Biden’s failed policies.” Our own Mike Pence (gag) used those exact words the other day when asked about how he now feels about drumpf. That’s all they have to run on, citing “failed policies” without citing specifics on just what has failed and how—because, of course, Biden’s policies have not failed but have succeeded, impressively, and they can’t bring themselves to be honest about it. Although, why start being honest now, right? Between this stance on supposedly failed policies and the beloved culture wars, they have nothing else. Smoke, mirrors, and a shell game.

  6. A thousand thanks to you, Sheila, for shining the light of achievement on a man who has exceeded expectations from the starting line. I knew what a prize we had when, at the conclusion of his inaugural address, he left the podium for his office where he went to work, continuing to develop the legislation that would recreate America. Given four more years and a willing Congress, history will memorialize him as the force that stabilized democracy at a perilous moment.

  7. Trump voters are not consciously choosing their candidate but instead consciously justifying their subconscious choice. Yes, Biden looks great on paper on practically all policy questions, and that is irrelevant to them. The GOP goes straight for the emotion, particularly the fear, and it works perfectly on simple minds.

  8. If anyone cares, I found my original “missing” post from another of my many Internet tools. It’s posted but I pushed the wrong button and find it now but not under my “byline” pete but my byline + a name of an old Swiss friend unknown to everyone else, including WordPress.

    The world is too new for my age and I try like hell to keep up ‘cause it’s my hobby but can no longer catch such a rapidly technology.

  9. I have come to believe, What ever a Republican is saying about others, is exactly what they are doing, and In their minds it justifies their feelings, beliefs and actions as justified.
    Look no further than Republicans that have declared voter fraud for years even though little or none was found and most by their own people. And then they commit the greatest voter fraud in the history of our nation.
    Republicans have lost the ability to govern our nation, vote them out !

  10. As someone who is a few years older than President Biden, I find it hard to believe that he cannot do the job, and then they mention that he stutters sometimes. These same people ignore that fact that Trump is only few years younger than the President, and he has never uttered a complete sentence that makes sense, much less that is grammatically correct.

    When people voted for John Kennedy because he was glamorous and gave inspiring speeches, they got a guy who couldn’t do a good job running the government because he was an amateur. Even though he had been in the Senate, he was always thinking of the “top job,” one he did not know how to do.

    Biden is the best qualified guy to run for the office since Lyndon Johnson. He knows which “knobs to turn” to get a result, because he has been involved in government for his entire adult life.

  11. The blue pill folks are out in force this morning. 😉

    So far, Bidenomics has been a massive windfall to the oligarchy — subsidies for already thriving corporations. I believe that is why the GOP helped pass his policies. Maybe I’m awake because they misnamed the bill during a period of continuing rising inflation. And wages aren’t keeping pace with living costs. More strikes have occurred during Biden’s presidency than in previous decades.

    We’ll need to wait for Bidenomics to trickle down to average Americans, lifting their wages beyond inflation. LOL

    As for the other choice…

    History is being warped to allow such a criminal enterprise to run for POTUS. It’s a living sign, a red flag, or maybe a white flag, of a decaying country.

    For that matter, we have two criminal enterprises running for POTUS. Instead of conceding their failures, both are doubling down.

    At least we don’t hear about the fraudulent “American exceptionalism” because it certainly isn’t taking part in the presidential race. Also, if Biden were such a star, the DNC would embrace an open primary, but they are already trying to rig the debates. Imagine that, blue pillers! 😉

    Lastly, the international community is passing on leadership by the USA’s “rules-based order” to embrace China’s yuan and democratic leadership. Oligarch-controlled versus socialism and socialism are growing exponentially while the other deteriorates. Once the dollar gets replaced on the international stage, we are in serious trouble economically.

    Sorry for the stomach-blow blue pillers, but I don’t subscribe to either realm of propaganda. I can’t sit through the commercials between the blatant blue propaganda.

  12. Melinda writes “They are afraid that people will notice….” And that is the real problem. The people do not notice, because the people are not allowed to notice.
    Where are the pictures of Biden that would allow the people to see the man? All anyone ever sees of Biden is a distant, stiff, old skinny guy walking haltingly to a plan or car. Oh, there was that one glimpse of the man when he fell off his bicycle. Other than that, where is the warmth? The relaxed and happy person? When he goes off to his house on the beach does he wear a suit and tie everyday? Does he have a few old friends over for a cookout? Does he even have a few old friends? We do know that he has a mean dog. Does he and his wife ever walk the dog? On the beach?
    It’s hard to get enthusiastic about voting for someone when you are not sure that you know them, and wonder if they know about people like yourself.

  13. Those “weak minds” mentioned above would rather sell their mothers into slavery than vote for a Democrat. They cannot and will not see the facts for what they are because it would blow up their entire psyche.

    Why isn’t the press giving equal time to the Biden accomplishments as they do to the disaster of the orange hairball and his slimy cohorts? If they were doing their jobs, maybe the polls would actually be worth the time to read.

    With the current idiocy of the Republican House, it should be clear that Republicans couldn’t manage a keg party inside a brewery.

    BTW, the biggest election fraud scandal happened maybe 10 years ago in Indiana with the AG shifting votes to stay in power. Sound familiar. Gotta love Indiana Republicans; they are part of the keg party committee… along with those from Texas, Arkansas, Florida, etc., etc.

  14. WADR – the issue for the survival of our democracy in ’24 is not about voting FOR Biden, it is about voting at all. The (sixth grade educated and fully entertained) public has low trust for all institutions and their leaders, least of all for politicians. All they see are PRICES and SHOOTINGS. No, they won’t vote for THE DUCK, they will just hide/pray and not vote. The DEPLORABLES will come out fiercely for their Fentanyl shot/third finger to the country and show their STUFF.

  15. Amen Sheila! The constant negative narrative about Biden and the progressives’ miscalculation might fulfill the prophecy…something we cannot afford.

  16. “Over it” nails it!
    Pascal might have a couple of years on Biden, but I just caught up to him and know of no reason to assume his age, in that person, is a problem.

  17. He has hairy legs that turn blonde in the sun. What more can the country ask for?

    That face..the face of kindness and wisdom. I do believe Joe Biden deep within his heart thinks he is a bloodhound. Which explai.s his penchant for rudely smelling/sniffing humans.

    There’s probably not enough room within the format of this forum to list all of his positive accomplishments.

    Slava Maui!

  18. As of the last reports, the numbers are close but wages are still lagging. But in the June numbers, wage increases did outperform inflation. We’ll see what happens when the UAW finishes their deals with the big three and the SAG-AFTRA and SWG have new contracts. Those increases will have a big impact, especially the UAW. The whole problem is that the CEOs won’t suffer any hit to their bottom lines, so they will raise prices simply because they can, just as they have done for years. I personally would like to see an excess profits tax. If we had that, we might not have much of the inflation we’ve seen over the past three years

  19. I’ve no complaint that corporations are profitable so long as fairly taxed, wages are good, and social services provide for cradle to grave security. Our admixture of capitalism and socialism can work if tailored to fit such objectives.

    The Social Security Act of 1935 was and is the greatest piece of social legislation the Congress has ever passed, but ideally we should add the child credit the Republicans let lapse and perhaps a guaranteed annual wage as well, financed by massive changes in the internal revenue code in re taxation of the rich and corporate class, starting with repeal of the carried interest giveaway provision of the code which further enriches already rich equity funds.

    Fairly taxed, our economy provides ample funds to provide for the security of our citizens as outlined above, and with such monies in the hands of consumers assuring demand for goods and services in the marketplace, corporate owners will still inhabit the Hamptons and their yachts, as all prosper. This is my definition of “the common good” in action.

  20. Why wasn’t Joe Biden too old two years ago when he was 78 years old? Did they not know that in two more years he would have no choice but to become 80 years old? Do the math!

  21. Inflation isn’t a bad thing. In recent years I’ve spent some time yearning for the period Jimmy Carter was in office. Biden didn’t disappoint. He has brought forth the highest rates of inflation since the halcyon days of Carter. I must admit, Biden exceeded my expectations and made my dream a reality.

    I’m still voting for Cornel West.

  22. if Joe makes his reelection,will he do anything past what Obama left us with. though we ask for a better life,thru our work and keeping on the straight. any or none,whatnis controled by wall street greed,,and if theres any chance Joe will dump on them to further a working class life we earned.
    just taxing the wealth would set the greed factor in its seat where it belongs. but can Joe muster enough demos,progrsvs to over run the ransackers of the congress? or would he? maybe just the staus quo of the previous demos. the working class is still the biggest voting block. we do it now,or we never see again what we had..

  23. Concur with Shiela’s son. I voted for Biden ONLY because I had made the mistake of voting for Gary Johnson in 2016 and suffered the indignity of getting the orange guy as my president for 4 years. (I hadn’t voted for a Democrat, ever.)

    I have been totally impressed by Biden’s performance in the office. He understands what the job is, and how to do it (serve all of the people all of the time; not just those who identify as Democrats). Example: one of the plants stimulated by his policies is going into Marjorie Taylor Greene’s district (Can you imagine that happening in a Democrat district under Trump? I can’t either!).

    We need to make it clear to all Americans that Trump cannot be allowed back into the Oval Office in 2024, or ever. And that means any of his apologists as well. They have all disqualified themselves by genuflecting to the Devil.

  24. Todd, no blue pills here. American democracy is about median voters and incrementalism. No one is going to right this ship overnight. The point, which you yourself seem unwilling to accept (what color pill is that?), is that a vote for a Democrat is a vote to move away from oligarchy (however incrementally), while a vote for a Republican is a vote FOR oligarchy.

    A vote for a third party candidate is a cop out, plain and simple. You may as well not vote.

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