Magazine November 30, 2020, Issue

Joe Biden: As Small as the Moment Demanded

Joe Biden campaigns for president in Durham, N.C., October 18, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)
On the victory and prospects of the president-elect

Sometimes, history is made by a man rising to meet the moment. Not so for Joe Biden, who made history by shrinking to his moment.

No new American president in living memory has won election by offering so little of himself and his agenda to the public. Even Jimmy Carter in 1976, with his famously vague platform and his promise to be the anti-Nixon who “will never lie to you,” was at least a man in the prime of his life who represented something distinct and new: a born-again Christian son of the Deep South, ready to turn the historical page

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This article appears as “As Small as the Moment Demanded” in the November 30, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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During the campaign, Democrats used the coronavirus pandemic as a cudgel against Trump and other Republicans.

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