drew65_SAUL LOEBAFP via Getty Images_joe biden Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Why Would Anyone Want to be President?

US President Joe Biden appears to be making an early bid for greatness – since taking office, he has tackled the COVID-19 pandemic and other urgent issues. But some of Biden's biggest priorities, like his ambitious infrastructure program, are facing opposition from both sides of the aisle.

WASHINGTON, DC – More often than anyone might think, ample grounds exist for wondering why anyone would want to be president of the United States. Yes, there’s the glory of being elected to occupy the country’s most powerful office, hearing “Hail to the Chief,” receiving military salutes, and being called “Mr. President.” One presides over elegant state dinners. One never has to wait in line for a tee time. Still, time and again, we see presidential hair turn white (Joe Biden’s hair, of course, has already done so, but the strain of the office will turn up in some way).

The sources of that strain are clear: best laid plans go awry; unpleasant surprises lurk around every corner. At its start, Biden’s administration appeared to be a model of efficiency, especially compared to Donald Trump’s shambolic tenure. Even with a truncated transition – one result of Trump’s preposterous, and ruinous, insistence that he had won the election – Biden and his top aides seemed well prepared to govern. Biden’s heavily guarded inauguration – amidst tension lingering from the January 6 attack on the Capitol – went off smoothly. Only hours later he signed 17 Executive Orders and issued directives aimed at reversing signature Trump policies, for example halting construction of the border wall.

Biden’s first legislative as well as executive priority was to get a grip on the out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic. Trump’s mishandling of the health crisis, some experts believe, caused hundreds of thousands of Americans to die unnecessarily.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading and receive unfettered access to all content, subscribe now.

Subscribe

or

Unlock additional commentaries for FREE by registering.

Register

Update Apr 6, 2021 17:28UTC

The last sentence of the penultimate paragraph was updated.

https://prosyn.org/LcbMfSK