Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden's inauguration signals a great American reset

Mike Allen
Photo of a masked Joe Biden emerging from a car

President Biden prepares to walk the abbreviated parade route in front of the White House after the inauguration. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

President Biden had exited his Cadillac with the new "46" license plates and was strolling a short stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue toward his new home when he spotted "Today" show weather legend Al Roker.

The big picture: Biden dropped Jill Biden's hand — no warning — and trotted over to the delighted Roker. POTUS gave Roker a fist bump and said, "Gotta keep doing this!" It was a very Joe moment in a day that was designed to signal a return to normality in a turbulent America.

  • "Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path," Biden said in his inaugural address. "Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war."

Biden reminded the mob that stormed the Capitol that they failed to stop democracy.

  • "It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever."

Between the lines: Neither Biden nor President Trump mentioned the other by name on Wednesday, but Biden didn't need to name names to get the point of this passage across:

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.

Biden did name some American sins, including racism, nativism, fear and demonization.

  • "The battle is perennial and victory is never assured."

But he also pointed at America's promise.

  • "Today we mark the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office: Vice President Kamala Harris. Don't tell me things can't change."
Photo of Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff walking down the stairs with a soldier
From left: First Lady Jill Biden, President Biden, Vice President Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

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