Commentary: Empathy as patriotism

By Keith C. Burris, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Political News

Barring the nearly but not wholly unimaginable (it has been a crazy year), or an act of God, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States in a few short weeks.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 rages and so do the heathen — all of us, left, right and center. We are angry, jumpy and generally alienated from each other.

The presidency is an impossible job anyway — structurally, politically, symbolically — and ideally should be broken down into parts and pieces and delegated out.

But that isn't going to happen, at least not on the main stage.

Biden will face not just an impossible job but an angry and heartsick country.

We are not only divided, but we have lost faith, in the system and in each other.


Perhaps only Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln faced rougher seas.

One thing Biden has going for him is a practical and deep understanding of the office of the presidency and its operational as well as political complexities.

That's a very good thing. To the extent that it is possible, he will delegate and he will surround himself with competence.

With competence, unfortunately, often comes arrogance. Some of the folks around President Barack Obama were very smart. But as a friend of mine, a longtime Washington correspondent, told me years ago: In Washington, everyone is smart, just ask any one of them.


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