A hairline fracture in Biden’s right foot sustained while playing with his dog is the latest thing that could sideline the 78-year-old incoming president, who was mocked by opponents for frequently calling early ends to his day and keeping a light public schedule for most of the presidential campaign.
“I don't think it is a positive first step for this new administration, but it could be a very apt metaphor for the new president,” claimed Republican strategist John Feehery. “He is starting off as a lame duck, both figuratively and literally.”
Democrats are quick to point out that the jibes about Biden did little to derail his candidacy. Biden’s approach differed from Trump’s aggressive style and, to some, better reflected the realities of the pandemic, which has forced millions to embrace social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. And 51.1% of the electorate responded favorably to the quieter candidate.
“Most Americans were tired of Donald Trump getting in their faces every day. Joe Biden, a direct descendant of the ‘No Drama Obama’ administration, understood that Americans needed a mental vacation from Trump's daily trials and tribulations and ran a low-profile campaign,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. “Biden believes that less is more when it comes to presidential visibility and power. Americans will find a low-profile presidency a welcome relief after four long, hard years of Trump.”
“One of the worst aspects of Trump’s presidency is the way he simply consumed all of our mental bandwidth, so that it became all but impossible to think of anyone or anything else,” opined Bret Stephens, a Never Trump conservative columnist, in the New York Times. “Experiencing his presidency was like a bad reaction to dog dander. Or a painfully long bout of hiccups. Or trying to swat away a determined mosquito as it buzzes your ear as you are drifting off to sleep. Or a 6 a.m. car alarm that won’t stop. Or a case of poison ivy in some delicate part of the anatomy.”
The president’s supporters allege that Biden was not being fully transparent. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were criticized for failing to take questions from the press after delivering remarks. Reporters chastised Trump as well for not taking questions for three weeks following the election, including at an appearance at the podium with Vice President Mike Pence to celebrate the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting 30,000.
As someone who explicitly campaigned on the idea of being a calming presence in the Oval Office compared to Trump, Biden might bring this modus operandi to the White House. “I sometimes fear the Trump administration has reduced us, emotionally and intellectually, to a single thought, played like a Gregorian chant on an endless loop,” complained the New York Times’s Stephens. “Just. Make. It. Stop.”