Though it took Joe Biden decades to reach the presidency, in terms of style and message, every day counted toward the goal.
By Guy Trebay
1. He spent nearly a half-century in rehearsals.
If you want to assess Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s first 100 days in office, it helps to wind back nearly 18,000 days to the beginning. When President Biden was first elected to the United States Senate, in Stone Age 1972, the country was still mired in Vietnam; the Watergate break-in that would tank the Nixon incumbency failed when bungling burglars dressed in business suits and surgical gloves were nabbed by members of the Capitol Police department’s “bum squad” (as their lookout sat in a motel across the street watching “Attack of the Puppet People”); and first episode of “The Price is Right” was aired on CBS, hosted by Bob Barker.
“The Price is Right” is still around after nearly five decades. So, of course, is Mr. Biden. (Mr. Barker, too, it should be noted.) Although now crowding 80, President Biden retains some of the mediagenic qualities that ushered him into the political limelight just as political theater became a daily amusement thanks to a constant — if not yet a 24-hour — news cycle.
2. He had a head start in the looks department.
Politicians are, obviously, under no obligation to be comely — male ones, anyway. Still, starting with the Kennedy presidency — the first in American history to be fully televised — it has never hurt any candidate’s prospects to be conventionally good-looking. We’ve seen the young Joe images on Twitter — he of the boyish smile and a short-sleeved button-down red shirt. He looks a bit like a scout leader, something that in those days you could say as a term of approval.
The young Biden appears alert, easygoing, guy next door. In “Prime Green,” Robert Stone’s somewhat obscure memoir of a weed-fueled odyssey he took across the United States in the ’60s, he made a stop in Salt Lake City. While the novelist spared little affection for the state’s high desert capital, he indulged in some generalizations about its population, saying of the locals that they were perhaps the best-looking folks in the country, provided you like “the Anglo type.”
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