Burke: To fix things, Biden has to be more than not Trump

The Biden administration has a daunting to-do list to tackle; but it is what he will be judged on.

By Tom Burke / Herald columnist

Well, Donald Trump’s got one day left and as I write this on Friday, Trump looks smaller and smaller and smaller, shrinking as a man, as a soon-to-be ex-president, and as a news item.

And like so many wanna-be dictators (and some actual ones) Trump is slinking off into the void; remarked but rejected. Unless, of course, in one final burst of insane narcissistic, sociopathic, avoid-lawsuits-and-justice-desperation he tries one last time to do … something? Anything?

So, to the list of failed “leaders” who escaped their downfall alive, albeit in quasi-violent ignominy, and were soundly repudiated by the people they ruled, we can now add Donald Trump, who’s incompetence, cruelty and personal avarice was majorly responsible for the death of more than 398,000 Americans. He joins such as Idi Amin, Uganda’s brutal killer; Solbodan Milosevic, who oversaw genocide in Serbia; the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos and his shoe-loving wife Imelda; Iran’s Mohammad Reza Pahlavi; and the mad Pol Pot of Cambodia’s Killing Fields.

Others dictators, as history records, went violently: Mussolini was shot by partisans and hung by his heels alongside his mistress for all to scorn. Hitler (and his wife Eva Braun) committed suicide and were then reduced to greasy, oily ashes in a shallow hole outside his Berlin bunker. In Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were stood against a wall and executed; and Saddam Hussein was hung after being captured cowering in a hole in the ground.

(Note: It would appear, according to federal prosecutors, that Vice President Pence narrowly missed Ceausescu’s fate as the insurrectionists were aiming to kill him, and other elected officials, as they stormed the Capitol.)

Now, in this last piece on “President” Trump, I’m wondering how he’ll be remembered by history. Will he be known as a: liar, loser, buffoon, clown, narcissist or incompetent?

Or will he be tagged as a mob-boss, idiot, grifter, failure or sociopath? He’s been called delusional, Cadet Bone Spurs, and man-baby; but now, will his first mention in the history books simply be: “Impeached.” Twice.

In a matter of hours, Trump’s gone, although his gross ineptitude will linger for years.

So let’s turn our attention to Joe and Kamala and what they, and us, will be facing at 12:01 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Here’s the short list (in no particular order):

Covid-19: 4,000 deaths a day; 250,000 new cases a day; a new, more contagious covid strain now in the U.S.; uncertainty over vaccine supply; need for a national testing plan and funding; need for a national vaccine strategy and funding; a return to the World Health Organization; vaccination of 100 million in 100 days; implementing a federal mask mandate; making the White House covid-free; employing the Defense Production Act; reopening schools; listening to the scientists.

Addressing relations and negotiations with: China, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Israel and the Palestinians; and rebuilding alliances and trade relations; confronting North Korea, Kim Jong-un and the nuclear threat; Russia, Putin, and its cyber warfare, hacks and aggression; repairing the U.S. reputation worldwide

Working with Congress regarding: an impeachment trial; immigration and the Dreamers; a covid relief package; unemployment; a tax policy that reverses Trump’s corporate cuts and makes the rich pay what they used to pay; aiding small businesses and Main Street; police and criminal justice reform; extending the Voting Rights Act; rooting out those members of Congress who participated in the Capitol insurrection; heath care including Medicare, health insurance, and prescription prices; education policy, student loans, and free community college for all; increasing the minimum wage; restoring ethics in government.

Rebuilding the infrastructure of government: the Department of Justice; the Environmental Protection Agency; the State Department; Rebuild the Pentagon; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; Voice of America; the U.S. Postal Service.

Addressing in general: insurrection, domestic terrorism, white supremacists, and Q-anon; Islamic terrorism; Social justice and Black Lives Matter; global warming, climate change, and the Paris Accords; wildfires and a implement a national Green Energy policy; reversing Trump’s Muslim travel ban; stopping construction of the border wall.

And, finally, restoring the Soul of the Nation.

Of course, there’s more. But for me this will be the check list I use to measure Biden’s success (or failure).

Just because Biden is the “non-Trump” neither he nor Vice President Harris gets a pass. They promised to do a lot. They need to be assessed on how they do.

But, to be sure, it ain’t all on them. If the Republican goal is to do to Biden what they tried to do to Obama (in the words of Mitch McConnell, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”) then we must measure the Republicans’ performance as well. If they screw up, they should be treated, in 2022, as they were in 2018, and soundly defeated (again).

Let’s all hope the next few days are without any more drama than the inauguration of a new president deserves.

As always: Stay safe. Mask up.

Tom Burke’s email address is t.burke.column@gmail.com.

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