Human beings are naturally drawn to bold statements, and, concomitantly, to overstatement. Nowhere is that more visible than in politics, and nowhere is politics more prone to it than when it involves the President of the United States. Such overstatement is dangerous no matter who it comes from, as it reinforces illusions about the world in which we live. Even if the result is more CNN than FOX News, it’s still dangerous.
Bombast like that of the outgoing president is easy to spot and criticize, especially when you vehemently disagree with the person spewing it. More moderate overstatement is just as damaging and common, but it is less obvious. This more subtle bombast has gone into overdrive in 2020, in large part as a reaction to Donald Trump’s term in office and savage attempt at reelection.
As liberals sigh with relief at Joe Biden’s imminent assumption of the Oval Office, we see comments such as this, from J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami (full disclosure: I have known Jeremy for many years, and, despite significant political differences with him, I like and respect him): “I know you’ll agree: January 20, 2021 cannot come soon enough. Beyond that lies hope inspired by broad vaccine distribution, economic recovery and a new day for our nation marked by new leadership and new direction.”
I certainly agree that January 20, 2021 can’t come fast enough. The reasons are obvious, and virtually all of them have to do with Trump’s exit, not Biden’s entry. But he does not symbolize hope, he is not “new” in any way, and he does not offer either a new direction or a way out of our current morass.Continue reading