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Biden hits all the right notes in his inaugural address

He kept his remarks short, nonpartisan, aimed at unity and full of hope and promise, but not full of promises except that “We will get through this together.”

President Joe Biden pointing at attendees after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
President Joe Biden pointing at attendees after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
Caroline Brehman/Pool via REUTERS

Dear President Biden,

You had me at hello.

I don’t mean hello, like the first time I saw you. Not even close. I’ve had my ups and downs about you, not that that is of any significance, today or ever. But you had me at “hello” today because just by showing up at your inauguration, and taking the oath of office, you ended America’s most recent “long national nightmare,” namely the Trump presidency. So thanks for that.

Of course, you made the right choice in not attacking, or criticizing, or mentioning your (absent, sulking) predecessor.

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Thanks also for keeping your remarks short, nonpartisan, aimed at unity and full of hope and promise, but not full of promises except that “We will get through this together.”

Thanks even for stuttering or stumbling once or twice in your remarks, although I’m sure you didn’t mean to do so. As a recovering stutterer, you are an inspiration to those who struggle to overcome that and other challenges.

You made the right decision in not mentioning your undistinguished predecessor by name, as, I suppose, he did you a favor by not showing up. One of your best lines was reference enough to him, and to the recent unpleasantness by his murderous, destructive mob, when you said, without elaboration: “We face an attack on our democracy, and on truth.”

On truth. I doubt that attack is completely over, or perhaps ever will be, but at least it will not be led by the most powerful and irresponsible person on the planet, and surely one of the least truthful. Good riddance to that guy.

And, good news for that guy, he won’t have to argue about whether he had a bigger inaugural crowd than you did. Thanks to two of his biggest failures, COVID-19 and the murderous riot he inspired, the size of the audience was severely limited.

The other big historical significance of the moment was the inauguration of the 48th vice president, the first of her gender and a double-first of her mixed ethnicity.

Thanks also to Mike Pence. For showing up. You took another step toward restoring your reputation, although you still have a long way to go. I’m glad they weren’t able to hang you.

Of Minnesota note, Sen. Amy Klobuchar had a big emcee-like role, and she did good.

Here is one extended quote from the speech that I liked:

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To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity. Unity. In another January, on New Year’s Day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, “If my name ever goes down into history, it’ll be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.”

“My whole soul is in it.” Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.

Uniting to fight the foes we face, anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things.

We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward — reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.

Mr. President, I don’t know how you managed this, but it was cloudy when your ceremony began, and sunny when it ended.