Joe Biden’s epiphany

Joe Biden

How it started . . . and how it’s going. . . .

Fig. 1. Composite of screenshots by author, May 7, 2021, of articles when Joe Biden expected a Republican “epiphany”[11] and when it finally dawns on him that this is not forthcoming.[12]

I was far from the only one to think it ludicrous[13] when Joe Biden declared that the Republicans would have an “epiphany” following his victory.[14] Even a more measured approach to the claim, attempting to show how it might happen, turned on a recognition that they might and probably would not.[15] Now, finally, Joe Biden admits he’s perplexed by the Republicans, who seem as determined to stop him as they were Barack Obama.[16]

[Joe] Biden has watched as post-Trump Republicans, far from reverting to their previous identity, have instead embraced the ex-president with increased fervor. Republican leaders are punishing those who reject the falsehood that [Donald] Trump won the election; journeying regularly to his home at Mar-a-Lago; and preparing to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the third-ranking House Republican, for declining to say that Trump won. . . .

“One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” [Mitch] McConnell said on Wednesday, adding that Biden and the Democrats want “to turn America into a socialist country, and that’s 100 percent of my focus.”

That was reminiscent of McConnell’s comment in 2010 that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”[17]

It should, at this point, following an attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol meant to keep Donald Trump in power,[18] be the most anodyne of observations that losers no longer accept their defeats, that elections in the U.S. no longer resolve anything.

Such, one might suggest, is the morality of polarization, where anything “we” do is blessed, solely by virtue of the fact “we” have done it, and anything “they” do is damned, solely by virtue of the fact “they” have done it. It is difficult to imagine how differences can be resolved when each side views the other as irredeemably evil.[19] Which is pretty much where we are.[20]

Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html


  1. [11]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html
  2. [12]Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html
  3. [13]Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/
  4. [14]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html
  5. [15]Perry Bacon, Jr., “Does Biden Really Think Republicans Will Work With Him? And Could He Be Right?” FiveThirtyEight, January 19, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/does-biden-really-think-republicans-will-work-with-him-and-could-he-be-right/
  6. [16]Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html
  7. [17]Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html
  8. [18]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  9. [19]David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, December 23, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/
  10. [20]David Benfell, “Pure poison,” Not Housebroken, March 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/17/pure-poison/

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