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Vice President-elect Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, and President-elect Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrive in Washington yesterday. Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters

Reflecting both the man and the times, President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.'s inaugural address needs as much reality as poetry.

What to watch ... The president-elect will do both, sources tell me: Biden’s biography equips him not just to deliver a great speech, but also to start putting the public sector back in good working order.

  • That includes a federal mask mandate, vaccine mobilization and other practical steps that make up his 100-day plan to, as he put it in December, "change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better."

A test for this unusual inaugural address is whether Biden can combine prose poetry with his “Here’s the deal” common touch.

  • The country wants both, his advisers believe — to be elevated as in presidencies of old, and to be reassured that Biden is grounded in the grim reality so many Americans are feeling, including his warning of the "dark winter" ahead.

Rahm Emanuel — former Chicago mayor and President Obama's first chief of staff — told me Biden faces a "(d) all of the above" presidency:

  • He has the civil and social strife of Lincoln, JFK and LBJ ... Wilson's pandemic ... FDR's economic depths ... and Truman's cold war with Russia.
  • Biden's speech will connect America's crises, including racial equity and justice.

Mike Barnicle writes in a Daily Beast column, "Why Joe Biden Will Be Our Most American President" (subscription):

  • "Joe Biden arrives now to tell America the truth."

What's next: After the festivities, Biden will take 15 "Day One Executive Actions," getting a head start on reversing Trump policies.

👀 What to watch ... Full schedule.

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Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Takeaways from Biden's sweeping order on climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's mammoth executive order on climate policy weighs in at over 7,500 words and resists any single narrative, but I've got a few initial takeaways.

Why it matters: The order aims to marshal the entire federal government behind new initiatives, so that means agencies that may not have the muscle memory or expertise of the resource and environmental branches like EPA and DOE.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."