Biden Seeks Fast Begin With Government Actions and Aggressive Laws

“He’s a lot calmer,” said Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and a close ally. “The fear of running and the pressure of a campaign, all that’s behind him now. Even after the campaign was over, the elections were over, all the stupidity that came out of the Trump camp, you don’t know how all this stuff is going to play out. You may know how it will end, but you are concerned about how it turns out. So everything that’s behind him now. “

Throughout his career, Mr Biden has been a dowsing rod for the center of his party, more moderate in the 1990s when it was fashionable, and more liberal during the Obama era when the focus shifted.


Jan. 16, 2021, 3:56 p.m. ET

It is driven less by ideology than by the mechanics of putting together a bill that satisfies various centers of power. As a “fingertip politician,” as he likes to put it, aides and friends describe Mr. Biden as more intuitive to other politicians and their needs than Mr. Obama, but less of a novel thinker.

While he’s known for his foot-and-mouth disease, he’s slow to make decisions, with one meeting flowing into the next as he seeks more opinions. Every morning he receives a thick briefing book with dozens of tabs in a black folder and reads it through, but he prefers to interact with others. During the transition, he did many of his briefings with Zoom at his desk in the library of his home in Wilmington, Delaware, or at the Queen, the nearby theater that had a big screen set up.

He enjoys having open air discussions, interrupting helpers and blaming them for what he considers to be overly academic or elitist language. “Pick up the phone, call your mother, read to her what you just told me,” he likes to say, according to the adjutants. “If she understands, we can keep talking.” It was important to Aides to work out all abbreviations except UN and NATO.

As a former aide put it, Mr. Biden was the guy in college who was always leading study groups in the dorm, using notecards with friends, and constantly interacting with each other, while Mr. Obama was the monastic, scholarly student with oil lamps who sat in a house room rummage through books alone.

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