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Biden’s date with destiny is here

Ed Burley

The arc of Joe Biden’s life scrawls a single word: perseverance.   

But 13 months into this unlikely presidency, it looked like his luck, his uncanny political timing, had finally run dry. Beset by inflation and the pandemic, flatlining in the polls — he loitered severely diminished after horribly mistiming the Afghanistan withdrawal.   

Nevertheless, stirrings of perseverance could be felt in the agreement between the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to plan the president’s biggest speech to the nation — the State of the Union address — for the tardiest date in history, March 1. This subtle move now comprises pure wisdom. If the president had faced the nation a month earlier, he would have presented inchoate promises and warnings. But in the intervening weeks, several key abstractions have crystallized: his Supreme Court pick is Ketanji Brown, Putin is invading Ukraine and COVID-19 death rates are shrinking.   

This replicates the trademark pattern displayed in Biden’s Lazarus-like primary win, partnership with Obama and record repudiating yesteryear’s policy consensuses: strategic patience.   

Ironically, impatience arguably powered Biden to become the country’s youngest senator in 1972 at age 29 and to launch futile bids for president in 1987 and 2007. At least later in life, he has learned to tame adversity by biding his time for the pivotal moment.   

The Tuesday night time sets the stage for Biden, with the entire world hanging on every word.  

If the president reframes recent legislative paralysis as painful learning lessons, he can rally Americans to honor Ukrainians by teaching a masterclass in rekindling democracy.

A lawyer and strategist, Ed Burley coaches elected leaders on speaking with voters.