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Joe Biden, signs, world map
President Joe Biden aboard Air Force One, 2023. Photo credit: The White House / Wikimedia

Joe Biden is shrewd, careful, and calibrated. Almost everyone else on the stage is a wild child.

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When we talk about someone being “adult” these days, it’s usually by comparison to people who are technically adults but who act like children.

As I look at the people on the center stage of America now — the Republican clowns in the House, the childishly narcissistic Donald Trump, the juveniles on Fox News, the forever infantile Elon Musk, the fraudulent RFK Jr., the greedy CEOs who are raking in record compensation while refusing to raise the wages of their frontline workers, the spoiled financiers who want to make even bigger bets with other people’s money — I’m appalled at how few adults are in the room.

When I look at people on center stage abroad — at autocrats like Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin, and Xi Jin Ping; at mindless fanatics like the leaders of Hamas; and at dithering European prime ministers who waver over dependence on Russian oil, aid to Ukraine, and efforts to slow climate change — I’m dismayed by the paucity of adults.

But there is at least one adult in the room — in the American room and the global room — and his name is Joe Biden.

While Israel is rudderless and leaderless, Biden gives a pitch-perfect speech about the October 7 massacres, holding Hamas clearly and firmly accountable. Then he says publicly that an Israeli occupation of Gaza would be a “big mistake.” And he quietly and shrewdly engages other Arab heads of state to help restore peace.

While Republicans accuse Biden of being responsible for the massacre because of $6 billion promised to Iran in exchange for prisoners (funds that have not even been delivered), Biden risks his life on a trip to Israel. He shows the Israeli people and the world that America will not back down from its commitment to the safety and sanctity of that country. He brokers a deal with Egypt to allow truckloads of aid into Gaza.

While Republicans bellyache that Biden has no policy for the Middle East, he negotiates the beginnings of a Saudi-Israeli peace pact that would make considerable concessions to Palestinians. It is the single best opportunity for a more ordinary life for Palestinians and Israelis since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and Anwar Sadat, by Israelis and Arabs opposed to peace.

While House Republicans can’t select a speaker because they put their own selfish ambitions over the nation’s well-being — once again forcing America to risk a government shutdown because of their antics — Biden quietly and competently does the work of governing the nation. His Cabinet is talented and committed. His White House staff is one of the best I’ve seen.

While Republican Sen. Thomas Tuberville (AL) holds up the nominations of 301 senior military leaders to force changes in the Defense Department’s position on equal access to reproductive health care services, Biden remains steadfast in his support for the military and for a woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

While Trump and other Republicans pretend to be on the side of average working Americans — while promising their big corporate backers even more tax cuts — Biden raises the threshold salary for overtime pay, and makes it easier to unionize. Biden is the first president in history to walk a picket line.

As the adult in the room, Biden doesn’t lash out in ways that make entertaining news clips. He doesn’t ridicule his opponents or call them names. He doesn’t intentionally lie. He doesn’t exaggerate his successes or minimize challenges ahead.

As House Republicans prepare to impeach him for no reason and drag his son Hunter through the muck of right-wing media, Biden doesn’t take the bait. He doesn’t attack them or act vindictively, as would his predecessor. He maintains a dignified silence.

As Trump concocts nonstop lies about him, which are then repeated and amplified on Fox News and Newsmax, Biden remains unperturbed.

As the adult in the room, Biden doesn’t lash out in ways that make entertaining news clips. He doesn’t ridicule his opponents or call them names. He doesn’t intentionally lie. He doesn’t exaggerate his successes or minimize challenges ahead.

In contrast to his explosive and deranged predecessor (and likely rival for the presidency in the next election), Biden is emotionally mature, even-tempered, sensible.

America and the world need an adult in the room — especially now, when the kids are on a rampage. I thank our lucky stars that Joe Biden is in charge.

Reprinted with permission from Robert Reich’s substack.

Robert B. Reich is the Carmel P. Friesen Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, including as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written eighteen books, including the bestsellers The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It; The Common Good; Saving Capitalism; Aftershock; Supercapitalism; and The Work of Nations.


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