Joe Biden is trying to make the presidency great again

The new commander-in-chief is adopting many of the customs of the job that were trashed by Donald Trump. He is more remote than his predecessor, usually appearing in scripted political events designed to sell his agenda and portray him as turning a crisis-plagued nation around. You rarely hear from him out of work hours — he’s been largely invisible on his two weekends in the White House so far, venturing out only to go to Mass. There is certainly none of the Twitter haranguing that Trump used to barge his way into the spotlight when he wasn’t on TV. And to be honest the new President’s tweets are rather dull — underscoring his belief that the presidency is a crucial job and not a game show.

Biden has also made an effort to stay within the guard rails of the presidency; though his aggressive use of executive power has irked purists who would rather see him use Congress to change policies. His White House has avoided, for instance, weighing in on Trump’s looming impeachment trial. Biden has also reset relations with the White House press corps: his spokeswoman Jen Psaki holds traditional daily briefings.

Biden has spent a lifetime watching Presidents, and has clear ideas on how to be one. He is no longer the gregarious, long-winded and cartoonish character he sometimes was in the Senate. His speeches are now spare and direct, his mood often grave. Biden may be boring compared to Trump — who never really tried to be “presidential,” instead using the office as a platform for his personal brand — but that is by design. In word and action, Biden’s trying to set an example of the serious steps needed to beat Covid-19 and to restore the dignity of his office.
Another change wrought by the new presidency is that the podium in the press briefing room actually means something again.
Briefings in the Trump administration were an excuse for press secretaries to troll the media and generate soundbites for conservative talk shows — they often seemed to be performing for the TV addict in the Oval Office. But on Thursday, Psaki used the briefing to send a strong public message to the government of Pakistan, a performative aspect of international diplomacy that was rarely used by the Trump team.
Psaki expressed horror that the Supreme Court in Pakistan had upheld a ruling to free four men convicted of murdering Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, including Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. She called publicly on the government of Pakistan to review its legal options and said the administration was willing to put him on trial in the US.

The White House could have simply passed the message through private diplomatic channels to Pakistan. But deciding to be so blunt in public instantly built pressure on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government. It was also a clear sign that Islamabad’s hopes for an opening with the Biden government are contingent on what Washington will regard as a satisfactory outcome of this case.

The Pakistani government, which previously appealed against a regional court’s ruling to overturn the men’s convictions, was clearly listening. “We will make all efforts to see (Sheikh) doesn’t come out and the judgment is recalled,” Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan told the Journal in an interview on Friday.

‘We stand with the people of Burma’

Soon after news broke of Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrest in Myanmar, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement saying the US was “alarmed by reports that the Burmese military has taken steps to undermine the country’s democratic transition” and urging the military to release her and other detained officials.

“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” she warned. Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, recently claimed victory in November’s election — only the second democratic ballot there since the end of military rule in 2015.

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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