Biden Is Better Than Obama


Joe Biden is no political rock star like Barack Obama. But he’s smart. Many journalists have overlooked this — and underestimated him. Now it is clear: Biden is a true statesman. And he was successful in clearly defeating Trump, a radical right-wing wannabe autocrat.

There’s no doubt that Barack Obama is a rock star. The man can talk; he has humor and humility, too; and he is also unabashedly good-looking. It’s no surprise that he captured people’s hearts from the beginning, not just in America, but all over the world.

All Obama really had to do was stand somewhere and he looked cool. And he could show emotions, too; he had and still has a sensitive side. In 2017, after a racist mass murderer shot nine people in a Black church, Obama made an appearance and sang “Amazing Grace.” Anyone without tears in their eyes at that moment had long been dead inside.

But as president? During his presidency, Obama fought to get an important reform through Congress: With his Affordable Care Act he ensured that today fewer Americans are without health insurance than ever before. Anyone who considers that to be unimportant is hereby cordially invited to visit the emergency room of an American hospital and take a look at how people without health insurance are treated — even after a five- or six-hour wait.

However, beyond the Affordable Care Act, Obama did not achieve much. In foreign policy, for example, he never understood the best course of action. He condemned Vladimir Putin, of course, but without tangible consequences. Russia was allowed to invade Georgia, devastate Syria and support Donald Trump’s campaign without the lights ever going out in Moscow.

Respect and Sympathy for Black Americans

Biden was never a political rock star. Journalists have underestimated him from the beginning. In 2019, leading up to the election, all eyes were on Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris; Biden was considered a clumsy old man who couldn’t speak one straight sentence. The following is true: Biden stuttered heavily as a child. He learned to cover up his stutter by mumbling.

It escaped journalists completely that Biden enjoys the respect and sympathy of nearly all Black Americans, a respect justly earned over decades. Journalists also overlooked that Biden achieved something that no other candidate managed to: He reconciled the left wing of the party with those in the center. Thus, he succeeded in clearly defeating Trump, a radical, right-wing, wannabe autocrat.

This was only the first of his accomplishments. He also managed, in a deeply divided country and with support from Republicans, to pass an infrastructure plan that will fundamentally change America for the better; and against the raging resistance from Republicans, he pushed through social reforms that are at least as ambitious as Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. These reforms will, for the most part, benefit people in Republican-governed election districts. Biden’s gamble is that it might serve to free the people of those districts from hatred and delusion. We’ll see if it works.

Biden is no great speaker, but that hasn’t kept him from giving a few shining speeches. For example, the address in which he warned of MAGA Republicans, those Trump supporters who he said were not even conservatives, but enemies of democracy prone to violence.

More than anything, Biden is a fox. He is not just smart, but also quite cunning. He proved this in his most recent address to both chambers of Congress in which he set a rhetorical trap into which Republicans promptly stumbled: He mentioned that some Republicans wanted to end Social Security and Medicare. Furious cries of protest! And Biden let the trap snap shut: Then you are all in agreement, he said — no cuts to either the health insurance program or to Social Security. That’s how politics work: when you know how the machine functions, where to move the levers and which buttons to push.

Foreign Policy Experience from the Time of the Cold War

And in terms of foreign policy? At the time, many resented Biden for the withdrawal from Afghanistan. However, this war had already been lost for at least a decade. Until then, there simply wasn’t an administration (including the Obama administration) with the courage to acknowledge that it was truly lost. Biden found himself in the situation of an bar patron at whose expense his predecessors had been drinking heavily, and who at the end is left to pay the bill. In hindsight it has become clear that his decision was tremendously painful — and tremendously correct. One can only imagine the tragedy that would exist if American forces were still engaged in Afghanistan.

We are quite lucky to have Biden in the White House, a man who gained his formative foreign policy experience during the Cold War. Thus, he knows that NATO is indispensable to America, that the deterrence from American nuclear weapons helps against Russian nuclear weapons, that aggression must not be rewarded and that loyalty toward allies is worth even a financial price.

However, there is yet another experience that Biden brought with him to his office — an experience that Europeans have long forgotten. It has only been 30 years since the Serbs led a war of ethnic cleansing against the multi-ethnic Bosnians. Back then, Europeans did as good as nothing to confront the butchers. Dutch Blue Helmets even drank champagne with Serbian war criminals in Srebrenica before the latter carried out the massacre.

Biden has observed this: There is no relying on Europeans. They need the United States in order to find their better selves. Without or against America, Europeans are either helpless or dangerous.

Visit to Kyiv Was the High Point of His Presidency

Biden reached the high point of his presidency with his visit to Kyiv. No one who has seen them will ever forget the images of him walking fearlessly through the city with the Ukrainian president while air raid sirens blared. This moment can be compared only to John F. Kennedy’s visit to Berlin. Or to Ronald Reagan’s visit to the Berlin Wall in 1987. The following sentences from Biden, “Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you” were on a par with Kennedy’s words, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” and Reagan’s demand, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” [

In a certain sense, Biden’s sentences are even more meaningful. None of his predecessors took on special burdens for their trips. Biden, on the other hand, took a 10-hour train ride and ventured into a country without a secured air space.

Perhaps it should be stated quite clearly: Biden, who is no rock star, is a better president than Obama. He doesn’t shine, but he understands the business better. He doesn’t shy away from making difficult decisions, while Obama was happy to keep putting them off. And he knows that you have to lead the fight against the enemies of liberal democracy both at home and abroad.

Of course, lightning might strike him tomorrow or he might not run for a second term; a younger candidate could soon push him aside. Who knows? Only one thing is clear: The journalists who had written him off from the beginning because he stammers and is old will continue to underestimate Biden the fox.

“A statesman is a dead politician, ‘revised and edited.'” This definition comes from the genius of a cynic, Ambrose Bierce. However, shouldn’t we, quite uncynically, already be calling Biden a statesman?

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About Michael Stehle 103 Articles
I am a graduate of the University of Maryland with a BA in Linguistics and Germanic Studies. I have a love for language and I find translation to be both an engaging activity as well as an important process for connecting the world.

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