Joe Biden capped off another rotten week of his sinking presidency saying he hopes his legacy “is that I restored the soul of this country.” His dementia might be relatively new, but he’s been a raging narcissist throughout his public life. Who does he think he is, Barack Obama? Or maybe even the Almighty?
In an interview Saturday, Biden also said that he wanted to be remembered for returning “some decency and honor to the office” and bringing “the middle class back to a place where they had real opportunity.” We might take on those delusions another time, but for now, we want to focus on his irksome comment about restoring the soul of America.
First of all, it’s not the president’s job to heal the nation’s spirit. Of course presidents can, and some certainly have, done damage to their country. Count Biden among them.
An embarrassing botched retreat from Afghanistan. Carter-era inflation. Short on jobs. Lagging incomes. Confidence down, dissatisfaction up. Bitter political and cultural divisions. We are without question worse off today in so many ways than we were before he took office last year. Biden has done nothing to boost Americans’ outlooks, but he’s done quite enough to pare them down.
Second, who says the country’s soul needed to be restored anyway? We are sharply divided, yes. (A process that Democrats and the media set fire to after the 2016 election.) But we are not sheep who need to be led around by a politician, so weak and dim-witted that we cannot find our own way.
Biden’s comment was truly offensive. It would have been offensive had a Republican made a similar comment. This nation, more than any other, is made up of individuals, most of whom understand that the government has become a more destructive force than it’s ever been. When politicians and media types were calling on Obama to be the national daddy and confusing “the chief executive with an all-powerful father‐protector,” the Cato Institute’s Gene Healy wrote in 2010 that “the results are likely to be bad policy and an increasingly imperial presidency.” That’s not healthy.
We need less of presidents and federal lawmakers and more of the tens of millions of Americans who keep this country moving. Restoring souls is not in any federal job description. That’s up to each of us, with the help of a much higher power.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board