Jan 20, 2021

Axios Thought Bubble

🇺🇸 On this reset day for America, here's the latest from Margaret Talev, Axios managing editor for politics, and her team.

Smart Brevity™ count: 349 words ... 1½ minutes.

1 big thing: Trump's gift to Biden

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he has set President Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

  • Why it matters: By claiming massive election fraud and theft where there was none, Trump triggered constitutional, disinformation, free speech and national security crises that Biden now has the chance to salve.

In his inaugural address, Biden called on Americans to end "this uncivil war."

  • "Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path," Biden said. "Let's start afresh," he exhorted Americans, and asked his political opponents to at least "hear me out."

Kamala Harris was sworn in as the 49th vice president — the first woman, Black American or South Asian American to hold the nation's second highest office.

  • The first Latina on the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, administered the oath.
Harris bumps fists with Biden after she was sworn in. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Biden was sworn in as the 46th president — with his hand on a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 — by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

The big relief: The inauguration was peaceful, and even normal.

  • Biden went ahead with an outdoor speech to project strength and normalcy after the attack.
Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Getty Images

The bottom line: Biden, 78, was written off early by some critics during the crowded Democratic primary — an instant one-termer who would be too white to reflect America, too old to shape his party's future, too centrist for modern politics and too consensus-driven to be a strong executive.

  • Biden now will draw on lessons from some of the greatest American presidents — who also were faced with protecting America from destructive forces without — and within.
Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

🎧 Listen to Jonathan Swan on Axios' new investigative podcast series, "How it happened: Trump's last stand."

  • And catch up with his fly-on-the-wall "Off the rails" series here.