President Joe Biden, the scrappy fighter for our times

Ruben Nararrette
Liberal Opinion

Ruben Navarrette

Columnist, host & author
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President Joe Biden has received a lot of criticism for the combative speech he gave in Philadelphia criticizing die-hard Trump supporters. He said, “MAGA Republicans do not respect the constitution, they do not believe in the rule of law, they do not recognize the will of the people.” Democrats praised Biden for his fiery speech and his approval ratings rose slightly. Some likened Biden’s tough guy stance to his days as the scrappy senator from Delaware when he was known for being a skilled negotiator who didn’t shy away from controversy. Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette says he usually has mixed feelings about President Biden but now wonders if he isn’t the perfect candidate for the turmoil we’re facing today.

I’ve gone back and forth a lot on Joe Biden in the more than 30 years I’ve been following him. And the whiplash has gotten worse in the last two years that he’s been president. 

At times, I just can’t decide how I feel about the guy. I recently declared in a column that Biden was a feeble and failed president whose biggest accomplishment was saving the country from the ravings of a crazy man. Not bad, but also not much of a legacy. 

So imagine my surprise when I recently discovered something about Biden that I liked, really liked. Actually, it was more like rediscovered. It was there in the back of my mind, a memory lying dormant. 

What I remembered is that Joe Biden, the scrapper from hardscrabble Scranton is no prep school snowflake. He can throw a roundhouse punch with the best of them. After the 9/11 attacks leveled the World Trade Center, I remember Biden vowing that the United States would follow Osama bin Laden and his conspirators to quote “the gates of hell.” It was precisely the message that I and other Americans needed to hear at that moment. And he repeated it several times over the years. 

I’ve gone back and forth a lot on Joe Biden in the more than 30 years I’ve been following him. And the whiplash has gotten worse in the last two years that he’s been President. 

At times, I just can’t decide how I feel about the guy. I recently declared in a column that Biden was a feeble and failed president whose biggest accomplishment was saving the country from the ravings of a crazy man. Not bad, but also not much of a legacy. 

So imagine my surprise when I recently discovered something about Biden that I liked, really liked. Actually, it was more like rediscovered. It was there in the back of my mind, a memory lying dormant. 

What I remembered is that Joe Biden, the scrapper from hardscrabble Scranton is no prep school snowflake. He can throw a roundhouse punch with the best of them. After the 911 attacks leveled the World Trade Center, I remember Biden vowing that the United States would follow Osama bin Laden and his conspirators to quote “the gates of hell.” It was precisely the message that I and other Americans needed to hear at that moment. And he repeated it several times over the years. 

Getting elected president isn’t a spelling bee. The prize doesn’t go to the smartest kid. Adlai Stephenson was smarter than Dwight D. Eisenhower. Jimmy Carter may have been smarter than Ronald Reagan. Al Gore was probably smarter than George W. Bush. And Hillary Clinton,  well, she was much smarter than Donald Trump. 

How did all those contests turnout? Getting elected president is more like a street fight. It helps to have a pugilist, a fighter who knows how to throw a punch and take one and then throw another that was harder than the first. 

On September 1st, speaking from Philadelphia, Biden landed a flurry of jabs on the chin of Donald Trump and any Republican who supports him. Quote, “too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal.” Biden said Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic. He went on. MAGA Republicans look at America and see carnage and darkness and despair. They spread fear and lies. Lies told for profit and power. 

The Republicans, oh they wailed in pain. No fair, they said. That’s offensive they howled. Biden was saying that anyone who voted for Trump is a traitor. Wow. Have you ever seen a bunch of elephants cry? It’s a pathetic sight. 

But for Democrats, an exhilarating one. It’s just what they ordered. For liberals who are tired of being treated like pinatas by pint-sized bullies like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who recently sent 50 refugees from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard simply to tweak Democrats, Biden’s tough stance is refreshing. 

Democrats have had enough of those Harvard and Yale lawyers to last them a lifetime. Everyone in politics is always so careful. So diplomatic, so as not to stain their legacy. It’s a wonder that both parties want fighters, even one who in the case of Biden, is in the twilight of his career in the ring. 

Biden’s spunk and edge have their roots in his childhood. During a recent interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, the President told Scott Pelley that in hard times, his father would tell him to buck up. If something didn’t go his way or if something bad happened, his dad wouldn’t coddle him. Instead, Biden said his father would tell him, “Hey, Joey, why not? Why not you? What makes you so different? Just get up.” 

This is not the narrative of someone who was born on third base, who had everything handed to him on a silver platter. Joe Biden has had to scrap for everything he has in life. 

And that makes him the perfect leader for a Democratic Party that will very soon and from this point on have to fight to preserve the gains that it has made.


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