Writing a column about the presidential office

Biden has been an extraordinary figure to watch. He was president without presiding over an election. His time in office has been uniquely demanding but a humanist’s disposition means he, too, has paid for…

Writing a column about the presidential office

Biden has been an extraordinary figure to watch. He was president without presiding over an election. His time in office has been uniquely demanding but a humanist’s disposition means he, too, has paid for his abstention, and especially his lack of leadership. There is no question in my mind: we need more Biden, not less.

The author: Alana Massey is a novelist, journalist and editor of books for young adults

In 1896, the novelist Waddie Scott described President Theodore Roosevelt as “the president without a post”. It may seem ungallant, but isn’t it true that the time spent in office should be valuable for learning and experiencing rather than something to be secured for long-term retirement?

Teddy, for all his ambitions, was bedevilled by a deficit of enthusiasm. Like our current president, he thrived on action and never felt able to stand by and let others take the decisive lead, no matter how tempted. But in a leadership vacuum such as Barack Obama’s, the polarizing right may gain the upper hand and lead a nation down very dangerous pathways. President Trump’s selection of cabinet members has been viewed either as a failure to marshal an effective team to counter the right or as a form of tokenism, portraying him as the “president” who carries on a legacy. Neither view is entirely accurate.

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Biden was his own president. He provided a much-needed voice on foreign policy, a seemingly lost mission in our recent national conversation, setting aside fatigue and reason when needed to take on extremist regimes. More broadly, the questions of war and peace in Biden’s time in office are still incredibly relevant. “The differences between men and the age group of people in their 20s and 30s is so much greater,” said one of Biden’s biggest supporters. The president without a cabinet position? I doubt that the role of leader does his duties any better.

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