New York Magazine’s national correspondent, Gabriel Debenedetti, is a man of many talents. The relationship between the 44th and 46th presidents, which lasted over two decades, is explored in depth and in the historical context in his debut book.
Debenedetti portrays the closeness and distance between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, aptly titled The Imperfect Union of Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
The Long Alliance stresses that their political partnership was not a feel-good buddy flick. The main attraction was President Obama. Before he took the reins and helped force Trump out of office, Biden was a supporting player.
Obama was only 47 years old and serving his first term in the Senate when he defeated the Clintons, ran over John McCain, and eventually won the presidency.
However, Biden’s path was very different. On his third and final run for the presidency, he defeated a fellow septuagenarian in the midst of a terrible pandemic.
Obama and Biden’s relationship was founded on generational practicality from the start. Obama represented progress while Biden represented the past. Obama’s advisors looked warily at the Delaware senator. Biden found politics to be very hands-on. Inspiration did not come easily to him.
After Obama defeated him handily in Iowa in 2008, Biden quickly withdrew from the race. The two men became close as time went on.
They had a warmer relationship than Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and even more so than Bush and Dan Quayle. When Biden spoke, Obama listened.
However, the Obamas and the Bidens were never invited to the White House. President Obama and Joe Biden ate lunch together rather than watch movies and have popcorn and a movie marathon.
Any hiccups or speed bumps left their imprints. Obama was outvoted by Biden on the issue of gay marriage. Known for his schemes and con jobs, Hunter Biden made headlines.
Obama’s spokesperson, Jay Carney, was uneasy about Joe Biden Jr.’s entry into Ukraine and the oil business. Federal prosecutors will decide Hunter’s fate, just as they have with Trump.
Obama felt for his running mate. In the latter days of Beau Biden’s life, Obama was there as a comforting presence for Vice President Biden. His eulogy was quite moving.
After Obama and Biden’s terms as president came to an end, Obama presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It was a pleasant surprise to get the award, which was full of warmth and care. Mike Pence, who replaced Biden as vice president, had an incredibly different experience.
Despite Obama’s intelligence, he may make catastrophic mistakes. He misjudged the extent of opposition to the Affordable Care Act, the staying power of birtherism abhorrent as it was, and the width of the yawning partisan divide in the country.
The Tea Party’s tricorn hats and the Democrats’ losses in the 2010 and 2014 midterms foreshadowed a longing for the past, Trump’s ascendance, and a Republican party willing to tolerate dictatorship.
Obama also made a mistake by treating Hillary Clinton as his political heir or successor. As a rival candidate in 2008, he mocked her as “likable enough” while trying to discredit her chances of winning the nomination. In retrospect, not much had altered by 2016.
Hillary Clinton does not have her husband’s aptitude for empathy and interpersonal rapport. She was just as stuck as Ted Cruz, the Republican senator from Texas, with an awkward, repellent quality.
Similar to how Mitt Romney’s 2012 statements about the “47%” wounded him, her comments on Trump’s “deplorable” have hurt her.
In hindsight, Obama made a poor prediction, much as his inner circle would make in 2020 with Vice President Joe Biden.
Romney’s understanding of the United States’ position improved under Trump. It hoped that someone other than Trump would be elected as president. A chance at sanity. There’s no more to it.
Mitt Romney asked Joe Biden to run again for president on the night of the 2018 midterm elections. Romney told him in a phone call, “You have to run.” Though the Republicans lost the House due to anti-Trump sentiment, Utah voters sent Romney to the Senate at the same time.
Obama and Biden maintained communication during the 2020 primary. However, his presidency did not back the former vice president until he became the frontrunner. Biden was unsuccessful in his bids for Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. He was short on money and delegates as he made his way to South Carolina.
There, Biden was saved by the support of House Whip James Clyburn and the state’s Black voters. Debenedetti demonstrates a command of the pulls and crosscurrents that form the upstairs-downstairs coalition of the Democrats.
It’s possible that African Americans are the party’s most socially conservative members. Not one of them was demanding free healthcare for everyone or open immigration. Obamacare was the first Black president’s lasting contribution to history. Not the Harvard faculty lounge or the yoke of the tsar, but the terrible lash of slavery was their inheritance. The likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders did not advocate for or on their behalf.
White House staffers criticized Vice President Biden in the media. David Axelrod, a key member of the Obama campaign and administration, never warmed up to Biden, and the vice president was aware of this. But Obama was instrumental in clearing the decks behind the scenes.
Covid, along with the demand for national leadership, helped propel Biden to victory. Other Democrats simply did not stand a chance against Trump.
Biden’s presidency has been marred by inconsistent performance. His reputation took a hit after the US military pulled out of Afghanistan and has not fully recovered. In contrast, the United States backing for Ukraine appears to be based on deep conviction.
Biden’s efforts to appease his supporters may have increased inflation, which is bad news for the economy. Although gas costs are down, almost every other commodity is still increasing.
Biden faces out against the specter of FDR and the legacy of Obama. With the midterm elections coming up in November, the Democrats’ tenuous hold on the Senate is illustrated by the fact that they currently possess only 50 seats.
According to Our Will Not Pass, another major political book, Biden reportedly told one aide, “I am convinced that Barack is not happy with the depiction of this administration as more transformative than his.”